Editor’s Note: Bentley Warren is one of the most legendary drivers in short-track racing history and he enjoyed much of his success driving the renowned winged supermodifieds. The following is an excerpt from Ron Hedger’s profile on the winged supers and the men who drive them that was published in the December issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
When asked how the winged big blocks compare to an Indy car, the proprietor of Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel, Maine, laughed heartily.
“The Indy cars were handling machines and way easier to drive than the supers, though nothing is really easy when you’re going fast,” Warren said. “With the big wings, all that stagger and tons of bite, winged cars are a handful. I had great rides in Glenn Niebel’s sprint cars and in Silver Crown in both Bobby Seymour’s car and the Daugherty car from Ohio, and when you’re on the edge, you’re on the edge. But with the winged supers, you’re going faster when you get to that edge.
“The one who caught on to them the best is Chris Perley. To me, he’s the ‘King of Wings’ because he’s so talented that he can offset any car problems with his driving skill,” Warren said. “He should have gone to Indy or to NASCAR. I know that Vic Miller’s cars are awesome because I’ve driven them and thought I was in heaven, but Perley is also the best in the business.”
While Warren still rides his Harley-Davidson everywhere and generally behaves like a youngster, he’s also at the point in life where he enjoys looking back, too. After a bit of thought, he suggested that the first winged car he wheeled was the famed Purdy Duece, a big Oswego winner, driving the car equipped with a plywood wing for the first time at Pennsylvania’s Heidelberg Speedway.
“I found out then that you can use all of the motor when you have a wing,” Warren said. “When you don’t have one, sometimes you’re better off to be a little down on horsepower. But they’re really hard on the car. I love going around Oswego with a wing but if they ran them every week, they’d kill everybody’s motors and chassis. A few ISMA shows a year is the perfect format for them.
“The wings aren’t as hard on the car at places like Star and Lee because they’re short and mostly corners and you try to get in under a guy. Probably the most demanding and the most fun is Thompson. There, you have to make the outside moves to win and it separates the men from the boys. It takes both skill and big balls to go good there. At tracks like that, guys like Perley can make things happen.”