Oswego, NY (March 24, 2018) - When the green flag drops at Monadnock Speedway at the ISMA 2018 season opener, a familiar car and two familiar names will be in competition for the first time together. The Dan Soule-owned 32 super is back and will be piloted by former ISMA champion Ben Seitz and the duo have high hopes for their new team. And of course, the car will be the trademark blue colors.
The name Soule, alone, resonates in racing circles with many fans as Dan's dad, Jim, became a legendary figure at Oswego Speedway in the early years and then in ISMA when it formed in the 70s, as a backyard racer capable of winning on any race track. His son Dan would soon work with his dad, learning the craft and then driving one of those famous baby blue cars.
Dan mentioned his start as a driver, at first in the 31 and then in a 32. “I believe in late 1988 season we purchased the Graves house car. It was just prior to that Mark Letcher had put dad’s 32 out of the ballpark at Jennerstown and the car was not repairable. So by default, and Dad not having a 32, he gave me the honor of driving the #32 starting in 1989.
“I think from 1989 thru until about 1999 we raced mostly all Oswego and also ISMA races. My favorite times were racing on Saturday night at Oswego and then slamming the wing on and driving to Canada or Holland speedway the next day to race again on double weekends for wing and non –wing events,” Dan continued.
At the end of the 1998 season, Jim Soule passed away but his legacy in racing would carry on with his son. The Soule Racing team moved forward without their founder and patriarch. Jim's legacy would be remembered as the next year ISMA established a Jim Soule award to honoring someone each year for emulating his dedication.
Dan would only be a driver for a couple more years, garnering two career wins in the family-owned 32. The time soon came when Dan would become a car owner when realization set on that one guy can't do it all in supermodified racing.
“It's a tough class to compete in. Good drivers and money have an advantage. Being able to have someone work on the car full time and then have a driver come in to drive is easier than working full time at a job, working on the car, and then driving it. That's really what made the decision for me. I was trying to pay the bills, work, then work on the car and then drive the car. Typically this does not garner a huge success. I decided I had to take something off the pace. That's when we became more successful. We had good equipment and we put a driver in the car whose focus was to just drive. It freed me up to concentrate on the rest of the stuff. It took us to another level. That's when we got Kenny Bell to drive.”
That led to a succession of great drivers taking the wheel of the 32 - some full time, some for a race or two. “Driving the car over the years along with Bell, were Nokie Fornoro, Timmy Jedrzejek, Gary Allbritain, Bob Santos, and of course Randy Ritskes. Others drove it on a limited basis like Jeff Abold, Joey Payne, Russ Wood, Lou Cicconi. I've been very, very fortunate to have excellent drivers in my car. I thought I was competitive, until some of these guys came along. I've had great drivers to be able to work with and they are all winners. I was the lucky one.”
The Star Classic in 2013 brought an abrupt end to the 32 in competition, for a while at least, when 7-time ISMA champion Russ Wood was behind the wheel and took a hard hit into the wall, incurring injuries and destroying the car.
The time Soule spent away from the racing game was used to rebuild. For those last four years, Dan Soule has been busy getting ready to race again.
“After the car was wrecked we knew we'd come back. We intended on getting back racing much sooner, but the financial aspect just wasn't there.”
The new 32 car which is now in the final phases of completion, is from NEMRS – Butch Valley and Brian Allegresso's shop. After it had been delivered, Dan set about putting his own spin on it.
“They built the basic chassis. It's an independent front end car. As soon as we got the car we started working on it. We just made it our own. We did what we are supposed to do with a supermodified. We tried some different elements and components. Basically it's trying to find a better mousetrap. When we got the new chassis, everything we had left of the old car, spares, etc., just didn't interchange with the new stuff. It left me a couple bolt-on parts, but that's about it. And brake calipers....he laughs. “We had to build all new from the ground up. The wheels, the wing and the engine itself are common threads, but everything else on the car is brand new.”
What's Soule looking forward to this year getting back to the fray? “I enjoy the competition. I like to try and make the car go faster. And quite frankly, I have a lot of great friends, who since I haven't been racing, I have missed seeing. I would have been available the last few years to be at a race track, but then figured I shouldn't be hanging around the races, I should be home getting the race car done. And, there's the financial end of it. It's expensive. I probably shouldn't do it but it's what I love to do. There are some local sponsors – SAVES Auto Body, Ken's Collision and Dave's Body Shop, who are still with me... the same group of people!
“I think the car should be decent to start with. Hopefully it will be fast. And, we won't have too many new car bugs. I hope we can become competitive in a short amount of time. Ben and I want to be competitive race to race. Ideally you want to start the season off and go to every race but we also want to be able to compete and to run up front.”
Dan did some searching around for a driver after the new car was being worked on. He asked some of his past associates and they all recommended Ben.
“Ben has some excellent skills," said Dan. “He has a lot of experience at different tracks in different divisions. That helps the great drivers excel. Bobby Santos, for example, called Ben 'an intelligent driver' and I think Santos is one of the best! That's a great recommendation.”
In the meantime, 2014 ISMA champion and 8-time ISMA feature winner, Seitz was kind of surveying the landscape over the winter. After his winning ISMA champ team disbanded after several years, he started 2017 in the Locke 37, won a race at Stafford, but bad luck and engine problems ended that season early.
Ben talked about his new ride recently, “Danny called me up three or four weeks ago and said that he was ready to run the season and would I like to drive the car. Quite frankly, during the off season looking at ISMA I did not see too many opportunities. I did hear Danny might be coming back so I was actually hoping I'd get a chance to talk with him. I knew he always had good equipment. I've known him quite a while. So hopefully everything works out all right and we have a good solid season. I haven't even seen the car, except in a couple pictures. It's beautiful, but then Dan's cars always have been.”
Ben's not unfamiliar with the Monadnock Speedway though. “I have been to Monadnock. I actually raced there and won a race there I think in a Legends car, way, way back. I think I have a couple races in the midget there also, so I do have some laps on that track. It was a long time ago. I'l have to sift through my notes. I do remember it was a tight little racy track. It's definitely a different little place. There are two very separate ends to it. So it will be interesting to see how the supers do there.There should be some good racing grooves. I'm sure it will be great. I'm sure we'll put on a good race for the fans.”
The Soule-Seitz team will certainly be a popular addition to the ISMA racing scene this year. Welcome back guys. Hopefully everyone will come out to Monadnock on May 19 to see their return.