PRI 2011: 1973 Herb Vail North East Modified Time Capsule Car

We happened to find a unique piece of North East racing history that is seemingly trapped in a time capsule at the 2011 PRI trade show in Orlando, Florida.

This particular modified was built for the 1973 Syracuse 100, but due to a series of odd circumstances, it never raced and was garaged for the next 33 years, leaving us with a mint condition version of a vintage North East Modified car from the early seventies.

We talked with current owner Geoff Yoder about the car’s unique history. According to Yoder, “Legendary modified car owner Herb Vail had this car built for the annual Syracuse Shaefer 100 in 1973. Vail was a very well known car owner/builder of the day.”

Vail’s crew built the Falcon bodied modified race car on a brand new Kreitz chassis in preparation for the big race. Completing the car with a Franklin rear, trailer bar front end with leaf spring rear end, Vail’s crews finished it off with Buick brakes, Profile steering, Ford transmission, Monroe Shocks and a Tobias racing seat and cover.

Vail typically used a Big Block powerplant for his modifieds but planned to use a Small Block for the Moody Mile.

Adding to the odd history of this car is the acquisition of the Kreitz chassis. “The Don Kreitz chassis was acquired from Kenny Brightbill when Herb Vail had gone to Kenny’s garage for some other parts,” said Yoder, adding “the new chassis was sitting on the side and Vail asked Kenny if he wanted to sell the chassis. Vail ended up walking away with the parts and the chassis giving this modified a pre-Kreitz/Brightbill chassis that was worked on by both Kreitz and Brightbill.”

As the race loomed closer, Vail and his intended driver parted ways unexpectedly. While searching for another driver to wheel the car, Vail had a disagreement with Glen Donnely over the Syracuse 100 rules.

Instead of racing the state of the art modified, Vail finished the car with a new coat of paint and hand lettering, then stored the car in a garage for the next 33 years.

Jerry Morgan restored the car to race condition in 2011 for new owner Geoff Yoder, who often displays this one of a kind race car that was caught in a time capsule.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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