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Fobbe: What’s In a Name II: Getting Classy

Lansing, MI (Friday, April 9, 2021) - In one of my previous columns I touched on what I think makes for a good show and mentioned the number of divisions tracks have running on a normal race night has gotten excessive. What has also been a real thorn in my side is the amount of changing and modifying the names of these divisions have gone through over the last 20ish years. This has probably been a problem even longer than 20 years back, but I’m only 30 and that’s as far back as I can really remember.

Starting around 2001 my family were weekly visitors to Spartan (now Corrigan Oil) Speedway and Owosso Speedway. At that point in time Spartan was running Super Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Pony Stocks weekly with a monthly Figure 8 class on their Sunday shows. Owosso was running Super Late Models, Late Models, Modifieds, and Street Stocks. The first glaring thing just at this point of time is Owosso running both “Super Late Models” and “Late Models.” Their Late Model class was what other tracks referred to as Limited Late Models in this era. As someone who owns a currently unused bachelor degree in marketing, I appreciate the nuance of this nomenclature. Having Limited and Super Late Models makes the Limiteds seem less than compared to the Supers. By dropping the “Limited” from the Late Model class, it did not make them seem less than the Supers, it made the Supers sound like Late Models with extra. A really small but effective change.

But from this point forward is where things start to get hairy. Spartan would a few years later “evolve” the Street Stock name to Sportsman. They would also eventually add a Pure Stock class which was the new V8 rear-wheel drive stock class. Then those classes would be merged into the Spartan Stock division, which was the ABC Style racing we know. At the same time Springport was running a similar format, but instead of Spartan Stocks, they were just known as the ABC Division, which is a more matter-of-fact name, but not as marketable as Spartan Stocks. But then, as the ABC concept began to dwindle Springport and eventually Spartan would both return to regular divisions. Somewhere between the Sportsman of the previous era and template body late models came the Late Model Sportsman division. At one point Springport, Spartan, Galesburg, Kalamazoo, and other tracks all converged on the Late Model Sportsman name and I think this may be the closest we have ever came to world peace.

But within the last few years a couple tracks pivoted and now Late Model Sportsman are Template Late Models (but only at some tracks). To make the confusion even more fun, we look up the card to the Super Late Models of 2001, which were essentially the only form of Super Late Models on pavement at the time. But, as the outlaw body version of Super Late Models struggled with cost and car count issues and was on the brink of death, the CRA-styled template body Super Late Model emerged in a much more prominent way in Michigan. This shifted the Super Late Models of old to now be pretty much universally known as Outlaw Super Late Models, and their template bodied counterparts are now (for the most part) known as Super Late Models.

So if you’re following along at home, Sportsman became Late Model Sportsman and then Template Late Models. But now we have Super Late Models that are also late models, and also have template bodies but are not Template Late Models.

And then the (Limited) Late Model class for the most part evolved into what became known as the Pro Late Model class in Michigan. But the Pro Late Models were a mixture of template and outlaw bodies with varying engine/body combinations. But in a weird twist, the once dead Super Late Model class became resurgent, and as they got their Outlaw Super Late Model name, the outlaw bodied Pro Late Models essentially got priced into being Outlaw Super Late Models. Also, there was a brief point where Auto City had template body crate engine Pro Late Models that they called Super Stocks. The racing was actually really great in that class and it coexisted nicely at the point in time when the ASA Late Model Series and SuperPro series were a thing.

Even though I don’t fish, I like opening cans of worms for some reason, so let’s move over to the Pony Stock class. This was the first time a front-wheel drive class really came into my scope of awareness and really the class at Spartan was the first time it really started in my part of the world. When the Spartan management reopened Springport the class migrated there as well. While this was going on, Owosso dipped their toe in the 4 cylinder water in 2004 with the awesomely named “4 Cylinder 5 Star Shootout Series.” Given Owosso’s proximity to other tracks, it was essentially a “bring your rules and come race” division, allowing the FWD Pony Stocks from Spartan and RWD Mini-Stocks from Whittemore to come down and compete.

Spartan/Springport would stay married to the Pony Stock name for quite a while. While the series at Owosso eventually turned into a regular division and then evolved into a FWD class only class, but opened up the rules for 4 and 6 cylinder cars, and changed the name to Sport Stocks. Then when Jeff Parish left Owosso and began promoting at Springport in 2012, he replaced the Pony Stock name with the Sport Stock name. I’ll admit, after this point I went traveling with the NSTA Modified Tour, and was neck-deep in Modifieds and really lost touch with the FWD classes, but when I came back home in 2018, I was shook.

The FWD divisions are now a scattered patchwork of names and rules across the board. I know at the moment Springport has Port Stocks, Kalamazoo has Zoo Stocks, and Galesburg has Burg Stocks (hopefully you notice the common thread in those names) which I assume are just geographically refined names for essentially the same class. Also for just a bit of fun, when Galesburg was temporarily shut down last season and they leased M-40 Speedway they still called them Burg Stocks. I was hoping they would have called them 40 Stocks temporarily.

But that is the point where my grasp on the FWD names gets more tenuous. The next class up has gone through a variety of names over the years, but it seems the most common name these days is Outlaw FWD.

The Street Stock name seemed to go out of fashion for a while after Spartan evolved them into Sportsman. Around 2009 Owosso and Dixie Motor Speedway were aligned, and while rules for all the classes didn’t quite line up, in an effort to split perception between the Dixie Factory Stock class and Owosso Street Stock class, the Owosso division were changed to the Pro Stock division, but eventually landed on the Sportsman name. While this was going on, the Spartan Stock/ABC Divisions were being dissolved, and this brought back the Street Stock name to the Spartan/Springport area where it had not been in quite a long time.

Thankfully Modifieds have pretty much always been Modifieds. Just don’t read too much deeper or we’ll get into a whole other issue relating to IMCA, MMA, ICAR, USA, NSTA, LMNOP, PEMDAS, or some other acronym.

Now, if you have made it through all of this and can still see straight, you have my respect. If you can’t, don’t worry, there are plenty of other people who are at these tracks and weekly and don’t know what’s what either.



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