We have often thought that
it would be nice to have a
super modified or bug as it
were but the opportunity
never truly presented itself -
until this past winter. Having
studied oval track race cars
from all over the country, it's
interesting (to me) that in
essence, many organizations
were doing the same thing
although their nomenclature
was varied. The first 'bugs'
were actually the 'cut downs'
of the New England states,
most notably Connecticut in
the early 1950's. These were
highly modified stock cars
devoid of any extra weight,
narrowed and sectioned to
cartoon like dimensions and
often constructed with the
lightest material available.
Which in short means they
were fast and dangerous as
hell. They were outlawed
after many got hurt in them
but in the late 1950's made a
comeback at 'the Pines' and
Hudson Speedways in Mass.
and New Hampshire
respectively. By now they
were called either 'bugs' or
'Supers' and soon migrated
to Oswego where they helped
revolutionize and define that
ovals course through the
60's. Out in California and
New Mexico, dead ringers for
these cars were called
'Modified Sportsman' and by
the dawn of the 60's were
quite sophisticated using
torsion suspension, tubular
chassis, center steering,
supercharging and fuel
injection. Of course,
Southern California was a
hotbed of racing activity, and
the hot rodders, lakes
competitors and Indy
influences, not to mention
the aircraft industry -
certainly all had a big part in
influencing the oval track
racers. In the Midwest there
were the chunky Modifieds of
Wisconsin, high, short and
rugged - neat looking cars. IN
the southwest they called
them supers, and by the end
of the 60's both Don
Edmunds and Jim Nance
built kits using glass bodies -
these were nearly sprint cars
and rivaled the spints in
technology as well as speed.
In the South they were called
'Skeeters' and usually ran
with a wing. Then there was
Chemung. I guess you could
say (and many on the
Williams Grove website allude
to this history..) that the
Bodines and competitors that
ran at Chemung started the
'Bug' rage here in the
southern tier of NY state -
and then this migrated to
Pennsylvania. In the late 50's
the cut down 6 cylinder cars
that ran the tight Chemung
oval started venturing south
to Towanda, then Port Royal.
Guys like Bucky Buchanan
and Jackie Soper showed the
Quaker State boys what was
up and Pennsylvania adopted
them as their own. By 1960
they were the rage at Port
Royal and as the 60's wore
on they were also
popularized at Williams
Grove, Selinsgrove, Lincoln,
etc. All these cars from across
the nation used bodies
ranging from Model T's to
early 30's coupes and
sedans, there were a few
examples of later 30's bodies
used but for the most part,
they stuck with the square
tops. The next evolution was
to do away with the bodies
entirely and just use
aluminum sheet in it's place
- enter Dick Tobias with the
30x90 kit. The chassis was
tubular with rear torsion bars
and springer front, 90 inch
wheelbase, 30 inches wide. It
was not fitted with a clutch
and in essence became the
father of  'modern' sprint cars
which replaced the 'bugs' as
the weekly attraction by the
end of the 60's at all the
southern Pa. tracks. BUT I
digress???
 OK - so I'm cruising Ebay
one day and I see this
advertisement - "Vintage
Super Modifed USAC" -
Sweet... the more I look at it,
the more it reminds me of a
local 'bug' that raced at
Midstate occasionally. Dad
and I converse and decide it's
time we owned a bug. I call
the  fellow to get some info
and it's all good, the car has
limited history, in fact it's
basically a new super
modified. Never raced
competitively as it was built
in 1972 by John Josephson
in Duluth, Minnesota for
himself. He never finished
the car, and then sold the
chassis to Mike Rich of
Superior, Wisconsin. Rich did
not finish the car either
before selling to John
Galloway who then resided in
St. Paul, Minnesota. John
completed the car by
building a 350 Chevy, mated
to a Griner powerglide
pushing gears through a
Ford 9 inch rear - good
stuff... John related only
driving the car in three
vintage races including the
vintage Super Modified
nationals in which he
finished third. In looking over
the pictures of the car I
related it looked like a CAE
front and Nance rear
"Exactly" was John's
response. "Sold" was mine.
John now lives north of
Indianapolis and so the super
has migrated a bit east, but is
about to make a big jump.
We agree to meet in
Columbus, Ohio and wait for
some decent weather....
 Finally, on January 29th
the forecast looks doable and
we're off. Rte. 17 west
however is horrendous and
the snow starts falling as we
get west of Erie, the
harmonics of the trailer set
the whole truck rocking -
they need to fix this road -
and the snow is falling
heavier. A call to John and
he's already left, 'the sun is
shining here' so we hold the
course and figure we'll come
home another way... Sure
enough, south of Akron it
clears and we blow into
Columbus full of expectation
and excitement, the car does
not disappoint. John pulls in
and we're in love. "It's killing
me to sell this" he relates,
"I've owned it for 35 years." It
fires up and sounds healthy,
everything works AND I can
get my fat ass into it -
beautifual! We strap it down,
head into the Waffle House
for some grub, fuel up and
plot our course for home.
Rte. 80 from Akron to
Wilke-Barre should keep us
out of the snow we figure and
even though it was a bit
longer mileage wise, it was
clear sailing. Wish I could
have seen it in the day as we
passed through the rugged
western Pennsylvania terrain.
No matter, we're on a mission
now, and 21 hours after we've
left my drive, we return to the
smiling faces of my boys who
wonder just where the hell
have we been and did we
bring any snacks???
 In the light of day the next
morning, the super looks
even better. A quick rinse
and off she comes. Now to
make some inquiries. I send
letters to both Kneisal
daughters and get a very
positive response, along with
photographs from Marcee,
the 'Mar' in LynMar. And so
our path is forged, this car is
to be a tribute to Dave
Kneisal - it's very similar to
his first Lynmar Spl. - the
bug - so that's what we're
going to re-christen it as. A
good paint job at Denis
Kardos' shop follows and
then some expert lettering
and scallops at Rick Hanson's
Earlville shop, and the
transformation is complete.
Ready for the shows.... or
racing???
Money Bags Moe Gherzi in a Plainville, Ct. cutdown from Speedway Line Report.
Bucky Buchanan at Shngri-La.
From the Williams Grove website, Bobby Hersch 39 battles Roger Sowers 83.
Earl Bodine at Chemung.
This is a Modified Sportsman from Southern California - New Mexico.
The Purse Snatcher from Wisconsin.
Lee Allard in his Twister at the Pines.
Ernie Reeves in a Skeeter at Hollywood, Fla.
Nance Super.
A long trip..
Cleveland 67...
John Galloway.
Not a bad angle on this car..
Dave Kneisal.
OK, so now we're in super
mode... We've been getting
more and more interested in
sprint cars and the 30x90's
the last few years, the trip to
the EMMR last fall really set
us off to try and find one, and
with our latest bit of good
fortune, we're all set. But,
good things often happen in
two's.... I've taken to looking
at the Williams Grove
website, they have a nice
nostalgic section there as
well as a 'for sale' section..
and there it is, a genuine
Tobias 30x90 kit car from
1964 - and the price is right.
I call the fellow, who just
happens to be a midget racer
with the ARDC ( go figure..)  -
his name is Steve Lenig and
after he tells me about the
car he relates that he's sort of
promised a friend first dibs -
ok, so we're second on the
list. Steve promises to let us
know soon and a few nights
later he's on the phone
relating his friend had too
many other projects at this
time - sold! - And  we'll be
down Friday. Now we're
scrambling, there's a big
block FE on EBay in Pine
Grove for $220.00 buy it now,
that's gotta go into this trip
as well... Feb 11th - Friday
afternoon and in pulls Dad
after I'm done with work,
button up the boys and tell
them to be good, off we go to
Pine City, just north of
Harrisburg, easy trip and we
load up the FE, it's got the 4
barrel intake and is from a
1964 Thunderbird, the fellow
has taken off the exhaust
manifolds, ignition, carb,
pulleys and valve covers - he
saved us work - (and it turns
out to be a low mileage
engine that runs strong..).
OK, hook back up and now
off to Selinsgrove - this is hill
and dale and some of the
roads, especially through
Shamokin, are pretty narrow.
We do quite well, only one or
two missed turns and we find
Steve Lenigs place. The car is
one of those - you know - so
ugly it's cute types... and it
still has the Williams Grove
mud on it from 1969.... It also
has the seat, gauges,
steering, belts, Halibrand
champ with torquetube
attached to the '39 Ford
tranny (with only high gear
left). Steve has re-built the
brakes, and although the 427
side oiler is gone, he related
it was stuck anyways.. He has
the coupler, headers and
motor mounts - al of which
will bolt right up to our newly
acquired 390 in the back of
the truck. "You  got a mag?"
he asks, "Nope" and he
quickly rectifies that
problem. This Vertex still has
the Williams Grove mud on it
as well, and although it looks
a little grotey, I think it'll
clean up.. "How about valve
covers?", "Nope." "Flywheel?"
"Nope" Again - these
problems are soon in the
past, and both items will
work well on the McClure car
(as the bug doesn't need a
flywheel...) OK, so we're
cooking, the car rolls on easy
and is strapped down. Now to
go look at those blocks... yep,
they're the real deal and so
(2) side oiler blocks come
aboard as well, one for my
brother Tom and one for our
buddy. Pretty race pieces and
although there isn't any
Flathead stuff in the truck,
there is plenty of Ford
muscle in it.. Steve waves us
off and we head back up
Route 15 into NY, I think
about all the trips the guys
from Elmira and the
McClures took on this route
towing race cars.... I'm pretty
sure they'd be as happy as
we were towing this load.
Another late night greeting
from my boys, crash and
back at it in the Am - I don't
even attempt to get in this
one... we'll need to hire a
midget to drive it. The low
down on the history was that
it was driven by Wayne
Hommel from 1965 to 1969
at Williams Grove, Port Royal
and Selinsgrove Speedways.
Wayne bought the kit from
Dick Tobias in 1964 and
assembled it himself. The car
used a crate 427 Ford side
oiler from the factory with a
vertex for ignition and
methanol carb - the reason
Wayne used a carb vs. fuel
injection was because the
tracks paid a bonus of $100
to the first carbed car in the
feature - Steve related he ran
in the top 10 which has got
to be pretty good considering
the competition. Neither he
nor I can find a picture of the
car - so if you do, then please
let me know. He bought the
car from Wayne but never
had the time to 'restore' it -
and requested that we don't
change it. We agree, it's still
pretty good and will stay as
is, the plywood wing is the
only thing missing from the
original car and Dad replaced
that with a good rugged steel
one. That'll never wear out...
and it isn't as if the car
needed to go on a diet, no
starter, no clutch or flywheel  
- it pushes around like a
feather - I can only imagine
what this think would do
with a side oiler in it. Scary
fast.. It'll be plenty good
enough with the 390 I'm
sure. Dad delivered the car to
Ford Specialist Bill
Cummings who immediately
went at the FE, a boroscope
inspection showed minimal
wear, this is a low mileage
engine and 325 Hp as well -
good deal. I got the magneto
sparking and Bill got the
package running strong
before installing it. We
haven't tried it since and will
have to wait until this track
dries out before we can give it
a true test, that'll be
interesting... stay tuned....
Back up to Selinsgrove..
Steve Lenig was very generous..
Homeward on 15 and 220
Only it's creator could love it...??
Front axle is 1937 Chrysler..
At Latimore Valley in 2007.
At Bill's Truck and Salvage.
Rick Hanson did the wing lettering.
That wing ought to hold her down..
Lookin pretty racy..
1964 Tbird 390 FE - 325 HP
Early bugs, Pee Wee Poblets 46, Johnny Mackison 1 and Bobby Hersch 39.
A little later.. I'll bet these guys were flyin..
~ Road Trips ~
Winter Road Trips 2011.
Endicott to Pine grove