The Nitro Joint w / "Chicago Jon" Hoffman

Some Super Comp History

“Well, what the Hell we SUPPOSED to do, ya MORON?!”

- Stork (Douglas Kenney) responding to the Delta’s dilemma, ANIMAL HOUSE, 1978


So, those were PROBABLY not the words uttered by the founders at the very beginning of the Midwest Super Comp Series. And truth be told, during my early meetings with rank and file members and series executives, the actual founders and DATES were also in question! What can be said, with certainty, is that the series was created by, of, and FOR racers, and their betterment.


I was also admittedly a little murky on the origins of Super Comp itself. (It is referred to as Quick Rod in the IHRA.) When I was asking about the roots of the class, board members Rich Kwasiborski and Pat LaMont both responded the same way: "Wow, that's a good question, Jon.” Usually, with me a typical good question is “Where's the keg?” or "You SURE you're not a COP?"


So, I reached out to fellow DRO associate and noted racing historian Bret Kepner who told me my theory of it evolving from the discontinuation of Modified was incorrect; rather it existed in other bodies, and was quickly adopted by NHRA following their elimination of Modified.


While discussions for the series trace back to 1984, it wasn't until a 'test-version' rolled out in 1987 that things begin to happen. And in 1988 the hard work of Mark Worden, Rob Harrington and Mike Sacco took root in earnest. (It has been a year of "small world stuff" for yours truly, my brief run with the UDRA had me working with Scott and Laura Gardner, whom I talked with at this year’s Joliet race with their Straightline Strategy Group’s driver Clay Millican. And Mike Sacco, MWSCS co-founder, was the UDRA T/AD dragster champ back then as well.)


Early goals were to minimize travel and increase payouts. A little history lesson here: my research of the 1986 NHRA season shows that Division 3 races were held at (and in this order): Indianapolis, Indiana; Salem, Ohio; Stanton, Michigan; Union Grove, Wisconsin; and Beech Bend, Kentucky. Throw in the fact that there were only two 'big show' races in the Midwest at the time, so options to race weren't exactly falling from the trees. That is a lot of miles, bumping heads with a LOT of cars, for payouts that usually didn't begin until the third round. So, that first 1988 season was eight races, four at Union Grove and four at Cordova -- much less travel and far more opportunities.


Now, don't get me wrong as far as the whole concept of pursuing a Wally is concerned, after all who WOULDN'T want one on their mantle, right? But it can be a bigger money-pit than the treasure hunt on Oak Island, am I correct? (Seriously, if those cats could hit a ten million dollar pile of something right now, it wouldn't even cover what they've blown doing that TV show so far!) The harsh reality is that for sportsman racers, we are talking about four days at the track, sometimes over one HUNDRED entries, and payouts that at the earliest level are not going to cover all these expenses. THAT, race fans, is more or less the root cause or de-facto 'mission statement' of and for the Midwest Super Comp Series, which could be, "We're trying to race and pursue our PASSION without going BROKE!"


Gee, Chicago Jon, you just mentioned coin, Benjamins, cabbage, scratch, loot, samoleons ... does the series have a full-on, front and center sponsor? Well, since I've yet to refer to it like most top-end interviews do, that would be a 'no'. (I certainly WISH it was the "Winston-Pure Oil-Brylcreem-Milk Duds-Uncle Bens Perverted Rice Super Comp Series, presented by YOO-HOO Chocolate MILK", but it is not.)


HOWEVER, there are a robust amount of businesses pouring money into the series, and that is always a good thing. (Complete list of their sponsors is available at their website, mentioned below.) I'd like to do some particular shouting-out at this point, starting with Dons Auto Parts & Machine, with two Kenosha, WI, locations. Owner Tony Pontillo’s great outfit was the 'boo-koo-bucks' behind the recent June race at Byron, that had a five THOUSAND dollar payout! Forty-two cars rolled through the gates for that one. (Forty-TWO!)


Regarding that rather robust purse, there was some solid advice offered up. A marketer-extraordinaire told the series (Don O'Neil of Dragstersforsale.com FTR) “You need bigger payouts, and make that knowledge known.” The casual fan will have his/her ears perk up when they know what is at stake, believe me. The good folks at AutoMeter are doing a lot for the series as well, stepping up with awards, swag and gift certificates. And I would be remiss if I were to leave out two VERY important factors about the series. Number one, the racing is as good as you are going to see anywhere, this is NOT one of those horse-bleep dog & pony deals like a Gil Cohn would throw together, and number two, these are some of the most beautiful race cars I've ever seen in my life. Everyone has an immaculate machine, with some pretty stunning paint jobs. Good luck trying to do a Best Appearing Car award here, you'd have to go all 'junior league soccer' on that! ("You get a trophy, you get a trophy, EVERYONE gets a TROPHY!")


By the time you're reading this, the racers of the Midwest Super Comp Series will be collectively motoring their way to Central Illinois Dragway for their August 17 and 18th race. September 21st and 22nd will have them back at the House that Ron Leek built, Byron Dragway, for the final race of the season. For more information on their schedule and sponsors check out their website www.midwestsupercomp.com you'll be glad you did.


While it wasn't over "when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor", it IS over for this month’s Nitro Joint. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Next month I'll be at the 65th U.S. Nationals (actually the forty-FIFTH "U.S.", not that I'm ticky-tacky about the name of the Nationals or anything...but I AM!) til then, I AM Chicago Jon, time to say C-YAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! 

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