With the return of fan favorite Herby the Love Bug this season the mini class in the Yampa Valley Auto Racing Association's races at the Hayden Speedway has gained popularity. But there is little question which class pulls the most fan interest at the speedway.
The racers in the International Motor Contest Association modified class, a.k.a. the IMCA modifieds, are popular enough that several local fans have stickers of their favorite racers' numbers on their street cars.
This year three past champions in other classes moved over to the IMCA class.
"The IMCAs are seen as the most popular," said Gregg Kolbaba, who won the limited late model class two years ago. "That is the class that racers are putting the money into to win."
Kolbaba now races the No. 55G IMCA modified car.
After taking a year off from racing to be the track steward, Nate Hitz traded in his four-time champion super street car for an IMCA modified.
"It is a little faster of a class," he said. "I still don't have (the car) done but I'll be taking it out for some races this year."
Josh Anderson the mini stock champion last year is also an IMCA racer this season.
The Speedway races were cancelled for this weekend because of rain but next week the IMCA modified class will be a part of the Hayden Speedway's Invitational race.
Hitz won't be in his IMCA car yet, but unless McKinney returns from an injury next week, he is slated to be the substitute driver.
Kolbaba and Anderson made solid debuts in their modifieds. They finished first and third respectively in both the heat and main events in the opening weekend.
"My goal isn't to win the Speedway season," Kolbaba said. "I'm doing this to have a chance to be able to move around to other races."
Kolbaba said that the IMCA modifieds, which require certification with the national ruling body of the IMCA, are accepted at more tracks around the country.
"Since there are standards across the board, you can take your car anywhere and it's legal," he said. "I felt isolated with the other car. I wanted a chance to be able to unload anywhere and race."
Purses in IMCA modified racing can reach six digits.
Kolbaba purchased his IMCA from a driver in Rock Springs in the spring of 2004. He fixed it up enough to run it in the final race of the season last summer. But he didn't like how it felt.
"I rebuilt it over the winter," he said.
Hitz purchased his car from former local driver Lonnie Streeter. His debut as an IMCA driver will have to wait.
"I still have to get it dialed in," he said. "I completely stripped it down so there's quite a bit of work to be done."
While the modifieds may be the most popular race, officials always promise exciting racing in all classes. The limited late models won't be running next week but the other five classes will be revved up and ready to go.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.