More Short Track Racing. Less Money.

The Stephen Cox Blog is presented by Corvette Miracle

This car was mean-looking and low slung. The roofline didn’t rise any higher than a Lamborghini. The tires were huge; the widest I’d seen since the last time I was in a sprint car. Maybe that’s why my neck started to ache halfway through the race. The cornering speed of this car was amazing.

My car owner, Dan Merservey Sr., just kept asking, “Stephen, are you having fun?” Heck, yes. Just standing beside it was fun. Actually driving it was euphoric.

New England’s Pro-4 Modified Series is a leftover gem from an age when short tracks ruled the country. Their four-cylinder, open wheel asphalt racing machines are fast and loud. The unlimited engine packages make almost three hundred horsepower, more than enough to propel their lightweight modified racers at mind-numbing speeds.

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Look, the prerequisites for racing are pretty simple. Most racers want to have loads of fun. They want to drive cars that look good… like real racing machines. They want to race on a reasonable budget and get plenty of seat time at historic racing venues. The fundamental force behind all of their decisions is financing, which means they can’t join a series that requires them to buy a new car and engine combination every few years.

The car I drove at New Hampshire’s Hudson International Speedway this summer was built in the mid-1980s and was fast enough to run in the top five. That’s an incredible lifespan for a racing car. Even more important is the fact that the series has been around for decades and the organization’s prime directive is to make sure the oldest cars in the field still have a chance for a good finish. No one gets left behind because they couldn’t afford a new chassis or engine. My 35-year old chassis ran with the best of them.

The motors are simple and within the grasp of anyone with decent mechanical skills. And you don’t have to buy a seventy thousand dollar engine for your six thousand dollar chassis in order to be competitive. The Pro-4 Series offers two divisions – Limited and Unlimited – to accommodate any engine budget.

The cars are real racing machines. The Pro-4 modifieds didn’t “use to be” a 1980’s Monte Carlo or a 1990’s Dodge Neon. They were never street cars. They are purpose built for competition. When you sit inside a Pro-4 modified, there’s no doubt that you’re in a real racing car. They look like it and they sound like it. The rumble of a Pro-4 engine is entirely satisfying for both the driver and the people in the grandstands. And remember, no one knows modified racing like the folks in New England, where this form of motorsport has been wildly popular since the 1970’s.

The Pro-4’s drive like an over-powered go kart, or perhaps a midget. The driver is constantly working to keep the rear end under him, modulating throttle and opposite lock to keep the car straight. A Pro-4 modified will challenge your nerve in the corners. No matter how deep you drive it in, you always come out the other side knowing you could have gone just a bit faster.

This is a series that checks a lot of boxes. Good people. Great tracks. A high fun factor. A rules package that creates excellent competition. But in my opinion, it’s greatest value can be described in one sentence…

The Pro-4 Series returns more racing miles per dollar than any short track series I’ve seen in a long time.

And isn’t that what we’re all after?

Stephen Cox

Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series

Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN

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Stephen Cox is a racing driver in the Electric GT Championship, the Super Cup Stock Car Series and the World Racing League endurance sports car series. He is also a television host and CEO of Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions. He is currently in his 10th season as a co-host on NBCSN’s Mecum Auto Auction. Stephen also serves as producer for the Super Cup Stock Car Series telecasts on MavTV and other programming on Fox, Outdoor Channel, Velocity and more. His past television work includes hosting: Champ Car World Series Indianapolis 500 NASCAR Winston West Barber Dodge Pro Series Paris-Dakar Rally USAR Hooters ProCup Stock Car Series Mid-American Stock Car Series ARCA Truck Series Stephen Cox is among America’s most versatile professional racing drivers. Few drivers have competed on both asphalt and dirt. Fewer still on both road courses and ovals. Fewer still in both open wheel and stock cars. And virtually none can add the elite division of off road desert racing to their resume. Stephen has not simply raced in each of these divisions – he has scored championships, wins, poles or top ten finishes in every single category, and in 2017 he adds the international Electric GT Championship sports car series to the list. From ARCA ovals to SCCA road courses, endurance racing to Rolex GT sports cars, from Tecate SCORE Baja Trophy Trucks in desert sands to the Hooters Pro Cup Series and Super Cup Stock Car Series on America’s famous southern ovals… Cox has driven them all, and won. Track record holder at Midvale Speedway (OH USA) Track record holder at Gingerman Raceway (MI USA) 18 career wins 17 career poles Mitsubishi factory test driver 2004 GT Challenge Series champion 2004 Championship Motorsports Association Rookie of the Year As a writer, Cox has authored: L&M PORSCHE; the story Penske’s 1972 Can-Am championship SHELBY LEGEND, TRANS-AM WINNER; the 1966 Ford Mustang Group 2 SCCA Racer AGAINST ALL ODDS; the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona Cox also authored the Small Team Sponsorship Guide for beginning sponsor-hunters, the classic book and seminar that redefined the way entry level teams attack corporate sponsorship.

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