Last Call At The Moody Mile

Posted: October 15, 2015 in Photography

  
Super Dirt Week 2015 started on Wednesday for my son Vanze and I. It was 6:00am Sunday morning, the last day of SDW 2015. We headed up early to beat the rush of people that were headed to Syracuse for the last ever race on the mile. 

On our way up we talked about the week so far, and how we wanted to cover Sunday’s events for APEX Automotive Magazine. Both of us wanted to capture as much of festivities as we could.    

  
Early on we shot some of the final practice for the big blocks. I have always loved this part of Sunday at SDW. Seeing all the cars cleaned up and ready for the 200 later in the day. 

   
 
Next up was the Sportsman race and Prostock feature. These races are always good to watch. The prostock race went down to the last lap, with the win going to Rob Yetman. This win made it a three peat for Rob and his crew. 

While these races where going on, the big block cars lined up on pit road for the start of the Syracuse 200. Crew members make last miniunte adjustments, and worked on their check list before they fired the engines. 

  
Just before driver introductions Dirtcar had most of the past champions on stage for a final get together before NY State shuts down the track forever. We went down onto the track to get some pictures of my childhood heroes all together on stage. This gave me chills, I told my sun soak it up kid this is history being made right in front of us. Itwas really cool spending the week with my oldest son, at this event that my father took me to for the first time in 1973.

  
  
After the driver introductions we headed out onto the cinder track to get our spot for the start of the race. Vanze headed down into turn three, and I set up camp on the backstretch for the epic four wide shot for one last time. During the playing of the national anthem it started to sink in that this was it. I grew up at this place, met some life long friends and witnessed some of the best guys to ever wheel a race car around the Moody Mile. 

I was talking to a fellow photographer from Indiana before the start of the race, and he was saying it felt like a funeral around the fair grounds. At that moment I realize that this is a funeral for thousands of people. Once a year we all got together to enjoy each other’s company as well as four days of racing. 

  
One of my friends said once a track is gone they never come back, sad but true😩.  After all of the pre race hype was over the drivers strapped into their cars to go to work for 200 miles. This tace pays $50.000 and the winner will go down in history as not only a winner of SDW, but the last winner of a historic event. 

Two time winner Buzzie Reutiman paced the field around for the Mile for the fans to enjoy. Track announcers said over the PA system, ” I hope we can get Buzzie off the track when the green flag drops” ha ha that’s funny, because Buzzie still races in Florida during the summer months. 

  
Now the stage was set for the 44th running of the Syracuse 200. After the four a breast lap the drivers moved back to their spots for the start of the main event. 

   
 
This is a endurance race, so trying to win it on the first lap is foolish. Most everybody drove down into turn one looking to gain a spot or two, before settling in for the long haul. In past years fuel milage has played a big part in the outcome of this race. 

Pole sitter Larry Wight lead the field for the first part of the race until past winner Billy Dunn drive under Wight in turn one for the first lead change of the race. A few laps later Larry had the rearend in his car fail, forcing him to park his #99 for the day. 

  
  Left front flat tires became a problem early in in the race. This caused a rash of caution flags slowing the race,

 but this bunched up the field for some close racing for the fans. Dunn, Hearn, Sheppard, and Ward where some of the heavy hitters running toward the front of the 44 car field. Pits stops shuffled the field around, giving some of the mid pack guys a chance to lead the race. 

   
 
After the 1/2 way mark it looked like Sheppard, Hearn, Dunn would be the ones to battle it out at the end. Stewert Freisen and Billy Decker, never really looked like they had the car to contend for the win. Sheppard had some troubles wile leading, taking his chances of winning another one away. 

Saturday’s 358 winners Jimmy Phelps and Past winner Tim Fuller lead the field for a while late in the race. A few more cautions flew, as the Sun was going down behind the grandstands. This gave Freisen and Tremont a chance to get around cars on restarts. The next thing we knew #44 Freisen was out front with Kenny Tremont close behind. 

  

Tremont tried to make a run on Freisen, but just couldn’t get close enough to make a move for the win. Freisen drove smart all day, his crew did a great job in the pits to help him win his 4th SDW race in 6 years. Tremont, Phelps, Hearn, and Decker rounded out the top five. 

   
 
The racing was typical Syracuse racing, but the entire event was Bitter sweet to say the least. We worked our butts off covering this event for  APEX magazine, and will have a ton of images for future generations to enjoy later on in life. 

  
I guess we will have to wait and see what next year brings in October. Where ever this race is held in the upcoming years, it will never ever be the same. We will always have our memories of SDW and pictures enjoy for many years to come. 

I will see you at the track!

Take Care,

John 

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