On Sunday afternoon, Modified driver Ron Silk got to experience what many Modified drivers through the years have wanted to try- racing at Supermodified at Oswego (NY) Speedway. Silk made the most of his opportunity, earning a fifth place finish in a field of 25 cars despite having to start in position 23 for the 75-lap feature.
“Just the speed of the cars,” Silk summarized at the end of a Monday night phone interview with AARN. “I can’t imagine what it would be like with a wing, but even without the wing you’ve got the same engine. You can feel the acceleration when you get to the throttle. It’s just really a rush.
“Anything new, especially doing well is a lot of fun. I love racing Modifieds too though. I’d have to do it more to say what’s more fun, but for the first time I had an absolute blast. I can’t thank Ray (Graham car owner and teammate) and all of the guys enough for letting me come up and do it.”
Silk had been talking to Graham frequently in recent months, and he had hoped to run a third car in the Graham stables for this event, but the car wasn’t finished in time. Then mother nature did him a favor, raining out the originally scheduled Saturday event.
With the race moved to Sunday, Ray’s son, Kody had other commitments and couldn’t race on Sunday, opening the seat for Silk to realize a dream of sorts.
“At like 7:00 PM Saturday night Ray called me and said, ‘Hey if you want to try this thing come on up!’ So I packed a bag and headed up there then (from Connecticut). Luckily it just kind of came up last minute. I said to myself I’d better take this opportunity. Who knows when I’ll get to do this again.
“Right at 10:00 AM they gave me like ten laps by myself just to get the feel for it. I went back out and practiced with everyone else for the 20 minutes, worked on the car a little bit. I got up to speed pretty quickly.”
In fact, Silk turned a 17 second flat lap in just his fifth circuit of that initial practice, getting into the 16.8 second range during practice with the rest of the field. Then in his heat race, Silk caught the attention of the crowd, as the front of his car lifted off the ground with a ‘wheelie’ down the backstretch.
Silk said that learning how to drive a Supermodified into the turns versus a Modified was the first key to his success.
“I was maybe a little out of control at first,” he began. “It’s hard to describe. With a Modified you drive as hard as you can all of the time. When I first went out and all through practice I was driving the car maybe a little too hard, driving it into the corners too far.
“It was just tight, tight. Then once I got out there with some more cars in the heat race I could kind of see where they were getting off the gas. How long they were letting the car roll before they got back to the throttle. That helped me out the most.
“I did a couple of them (wheelie’s). We just got really tight in the heat race on sticker tires and it would lift the left front really high off the corner. It felt like it was two feet off the ground the whole way down the straightaway!”
An eighth place finish in that heat put Silk at the rear of the field for the main event, which maybe was a blessing in disguise, because he quickly found out his weakness in a Supermodified, and starting the main up front could have spelled disaster.
“The hardest thing about racing those cars are the restarts,” he explained. “I had a hard time adjusting. Those guys, once the green comes out they were just right after it and it took me a couple of laps to get going.
“Once I got into a longer run though, when I was sixth or seventh and positions two through five were half a straightaway ahead of me I closed in on them. Right when I got to them there was another yellow, so I had to do that (restart) thing all over again. But overall we passed quite a few cars.”
Silk said he didn’t want to disrupt the other drivers running their final points event, so he took it easy early, running about 18th through 25 laps. Then a combination of attrition and making passes brought him to a top five finish in his first-ever race in a Supermodified.
“I’ve never raced without a spotter or mirrors,” he furthered. “Even in a Modified if your radio doesn’t work you at least know that everyone else has a radio. It took me awhile to know- you’ve got to pass someone before you know at what point they’re going to give you room.
“How is someone supposed to know you’re under them if they can’t see you? If you don’t think that the guy can see that you’re under him you’d better lift. There’s definitely more give and take in that area.
OFF TO NHMS – With Oswego in the rear view mirror, Silk is now focused on his next task at hand. Returning to victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a brand new LFR Chassis for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Saturday afternoon.
“We ran good at Loudon last time, led some laps and I kind of made a mistake towards the end that knocked us back to fifth, but it has always been a good track for me and that (LFR) car has always run good there, so I’m looking forward to getting back.”
So much talk leading into this race is about the drivers running the full NWMT season, but Silk is one of few drivers who could come in and steal the spotlight as a part-time driver with full-time talents.
Beyond that, Silk is not sure what is in his future, but he is becoming more confident that car owner Bob Horn will come out of retirement for one more race so they can return to the New London-Waterford (CT.) Speedbowl on October 25 to repeat as race winners in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series finale.