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After 44years of racing at the “Moody Mile” in Syracuse, NY, Super Dirt Week packed its bags and headed north to Oswego, NY. ” The Steel Palace”was built in 1951 and, has been home for the Super Modifieds as long as I remember. This historical 5/8 mile asphalt track has had well known drivers like Geoff Bodine, Brett Bodine, Richie Evans, Greg Sacks, and Jimmy Spencer stand in victory lane at the Big O.

One day after the ROC race at Oswego Speedway, 6900 cubic feet of clay was applied on top of the hollowed asphalt for the 45th running of Super Dirt Week. 

Dirt Modified Racers from all over the east coast will compete in the richest dirt track race in the world.  Sundays winner of the NAPA 300 will hold up a check for $50,000. Fans will set up camp for five days all around the spacious Speedway. 

Mid summer The World Racing Group announced that SDW 16 would be held at the Oswego Speedway. Social media was all a buzz about this event being held at a temporary dirt track. People slammed the idea and others were excited about the Chang of venue. I myself was sad that it was no longer in Syracuse, but very excited to go and cover this show at a new facility.

This race has been a huge part of my life beginning in 1973, until now. I missed a couple in the early 2000’s, but other then that the first full week in October has been spent at SDW. 

I was lucky enough to been able to cover the last ever race on the Mille last year for APEX Auto Magazine. This year I was able to cover the brand new Super Dirt Week at Oswego Speedway. 

The WRG ( World Racing Group) put in a ton of work preparing for the 45th running of SDW. From the track to making camping comfortable for the dedicated race fans. The place looked spectacular when we drove in on Thursday night. Behind the updated backstretch grands stands was where the pit area was for all of the divisions that take part in Dirt Week. 

I think this worked out well for the teams, by Friday at the mile one could hardly move with all of the haulers packed in the infield pit area. On the other hand the teams had to haul their equipment to the infield when it was their time to hit the track. The “Hot Pit” is what they called the area in the infield. Not having the big haulers in the infield was great for the fans in the stands. Fans could see all of the track from their seats with out stacker trailer blocking their view. 
Thurdsay was time trials and practice for the big block and small block classes. Matt Sheppard and Tim McCreadie put their cars on the front row for Sunday’s big race. 


Fans continued to roll into the Speedway for weekend. From what I was seeing the camping area looked pretty full by Friday. We arrived early Friday morning for our first full day at SDW 45. On the schedule for Friday was a boat load of racing into the night. Pro stock, sportsman, and futures made up most of the racing during the day. The weather was almost perfect with temps in the high 70’s and mostly sunny sky’s, but this wasn’t good for the new track surface at all. The dust was really playing havoc with the races all day. Workers could not get enough water on the track to keep it safe for the drivers. Vision was really bad forcing the WRG to postpone the remaining races until 6:30 at night. 


So everybody went back to regroup for the night racing ahead. Not only did we get to see a few of the day races under the lights but also the already scheduled qualifing races for both the small blocks , and big block cars. These races would set the field for both classes. The Salute The Troops 150 for the small blocks on Saturday,and the NAPA 300 on Sunday for the big blocks. 



Racing was awesome under the lights.  Drivers could run on the bottom, the top, and in the middle if needed. Each race had some great wheel to wheel racing, giving the fans their money’s worth. Even though the track was developing holes in the corners it was still a racy track. I am not sure if I have ever seen so many Dirt modifieds catching air as I did during the races Friday night. It was crazy, and sad all at once. There where a lot of wrecked race cars by the end of the night. 


With the combination of fast laps, rough tack, and guys trying to make it into the show, gave us some great images through out the night. This was a race photographers dream. 


Saturday was a total wash out with rain most of the day in Oswego.  This pushed everything up to Sunday. Promoters decided to shorten the races on Sunday to make sure they could get them all in for the fans and racers. I think this was a good idea for everyone. Plus the track could use less laps on it for sure. 


When we arrived Sunday morning the place was buzzing with excitement for the big races that lay ahead. With the all day rain on Saturday, and the calcium that was being applied to the 5/8’s mile,  helped keep the dust at bay all day on Sunday. When we walked into the infield Sunday morning the track looked great. The Big block modified non qualifiers race was run in the morning along with the pro stocks time trials. 

So the field was set for the NAPA 200. Teams started to make their way into the infield with the teams war wagons full of spare parts, fuel and anything else they thought they might need during the race.meanwhile both the front stretch Granstands, and backstretch stand were filling up with dedicated Dirt Car fans. I was getting excited myself about the days events. Turn one was where I planned on shooting the race from. Along with 20 other shutter bugs. The track crew was doing their best to repair and maintain the troubled spots before the race started. 

Prerace ceremonies were underway for the 45th running of Super Dirt weeks premiere race. As the drivers were instructed to start their engines you could feel the fresh new excitement in the air, it was fantastic. Teams tested their equipmet for when their car came down pit road for a pit stop. Drivers went four wide while the fans stood to cheer on their favorites. I loved it. It felt a lot light the SDW that I grew up with but with a new feel about it. 


I got into position for the drop of the green. Sheppard and McCreadie lead the field down into turn one for the first of 200 laps. T-MAC went to the top and Sheppard moved to the bottom trying to gain the advantage early on. McCreadie was looking for his first win at SDW, and had a very good chance to bring it home for the team this year. Sheppard moved up in front of McCreadie to take the lead and set sail on opening up a comfortable lead. 


Set sail he did, Matt lead every lap up until 175 or so. A whole slew of cautions flew through out the first 1/2 of the race. The track was tacking its toll on the delicate equipment. These cars are made lightweight to run on mostly smooth tracks. Drive through hole a ft deep is tough on equipment. The pace  was pretty fast through out the entire field. Drivers tried to gain positions as well as save  their cars for the end of the race. 


Hole developed in the corners making it tough to run the bottom. The high line was the safest place to run, but to make a pass they had to run through the holes and hope for the best. 


Rear axles, shocks, and tires took all of the abuse. TMac took the lead from Sheppard forcing him to make his pit stop for fuel and tires. While they made their stop the car also showed some steam as it was over heating. McCreadie had already made his stop along with Friesen, and Hearn.


With less then 25 laps left it looked like TMac was going to get his first SDW win. Hearn, Terrance, Friesen were all trying to hunt the #39 car down. Friesen made his way up to second with around ten laps to go. A late race caution flew tightening  up the field for a epic  finish. 


The crowd rose to their feet for the last few laps. Between turns one and two Stewart drove underneath McCreadie to take the lead, but a Timmy drove right past by him for the top spot again. Friesen once again took the lead on the following lap as TMac spun going into turn one bringing out the final yellow for the day. This put Hearn in the second spot with a couple laps left. 

Hearn tried to make a move but Friesen was too strong , crossing the stripe for his third win in a row and fifth all time. I was shocked that Friesen pulled it off again, but not really because he is such a good shoe. 



All and all this was a great race other then the rough track that took out a lot of the top cars through out the day. 12 cars finished, but good racing happened most of the day. 

The Small blocks and Sportsman ran their races soon after the victory lane ceremony’s were over. 

Tim Fuller started on the pole for the Salute The Troops 100 Small block race. Fuller lead all 100 laps, with Friesen, Marc Johnson rounding out the top three.


Well that’s about it for SDW 45 at Tge Oswego Speedway. We had a great time covering the races, and look forward to doing it again next October. If any if you are thinking about joining us next year I would say do it. You will enjoy it I promise. 

See you at the track,

John 

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Friday night was supposed to be the opening race for the 2016 PA Speedweek, at Williams Grove Speedway. Mother Nature had different plans, washing out Friday’s race with a lot of rain. After Friday’s rain out teams headed to the Lincoln Speedway for 17th running of the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial race, and the first race of PA Speedweek. 

40 sprint cars filled the pits for the the nights $7000 to win race on the beautiful red clay oval. Along with the sprint cars, there were 30 legend cars on hand for a action packed night of racing. This was my first trip to Lincoln Speedway. I have been to most of the other well know sprint cat tracks in PA, but never Lincoln. My good friend Bill,( a former sprint car driver) and I headed south early afternoon for some much needed Sprint car racing. From where we live it is a four hour drive. Some may say that’s crazy, but we say not at all. We live in Dirt Modified country, which is great, but we love our sprint cars as well. 


                           Fred Rahmer Racing had three cars on hand for the nights event 

Our 4 hr. trip was a good one, we caught up on things in our life and of course talked some racing.😀 we arrived at the track around 5:15 or so..gates opened at 5:30, so we where right on time.  Just like most of the PA tracks, we are on a narrow winding road and then all of a sudden there is a awesome Sprint car track in the middle of no where. I love the. Character of the tracks in PA, they have a history to them, and it shows when you are walking around the grounds. 

We bought our pit passes and headed into the pit area to scope out the iron that would be competing for $7000. Just as we thought a stought field of cars for sure we’re in hand, including Stevie Smith in the Rahmer #51s, always fast Greg Hodenett, and USAC ace, Bryan Clauson.  That is just a few of the heavy hitters we noticed when we first walked into the place. 



The grand stands filled up fast, along with the infield with loyal PA sprint car fans. I love this about PA the fans are dedicated, and the tracks let them go into the infield with their family to watch the races from there. I would love to see Some of our Modufied tracks in NY do that as well. Around 7:00 the sprint cars were pushed out onto the track for their hot laps before time trials. I was able to get some good shots in turns three and four during hot laps. Turns one and two had a tall fence in the infield that was to high to just stand there and shoot. This sucked because it would have been great shooting at that end if the track. Next time I am bring a ladder. 

Soon after practice the cars made their way into the track two laps of time trials. Greg Hidnett set quick time at a 13:3 second lap, for a 102mph average speed on the tight narrow track. The early cars had a advantage for sure with a heavier track. 


After time trials were over the teams prepared their cars for four exciting heat races. Heat one was a battle with Stevie Smith taking the win in his Rahmer 51s ride. The second heat winner was #59 Jim Siegel, and #11c Cory Hoss getting the top two spots. Winners of the last two heat races were  Lucas Wolfe in the Zemco # 1, and  # 87 Alan Grimes. All four of the 8 lap heats were exciting to watch, with battles all through the field. 


Next up were the legend cars, which put on a great show for the fans. These cars get it on for sure at Lincoln. As soon as the heat races were over the track crew went to work preparing the track for the nights main events. After the the redraw for the sprint cars , lance Dewease found himself starting in the Pole with Lucas Wolfe along side in the front row. Dietrick, Hodnett, and Smith rounded out the top five for the 30 lap main. 


Before we cloud go A-Main racing we needed to have the B-Main fill out the stellar field. Now this race was a barn burner. With both Rahmer Boys trying to get into the Main and a host of other fast guys gunning for the $7000 purse as well not only revere they racing for a nice purse at Linclon, but they scored points for all of the races all night.  These points add up all week at every track they compete at towards the PA Speedweek point title. This puts more pressure on the teams every time they hit the track. 


#51 Freddie Rahmer, and #3z Brock Zearfoss battled mist of the B main with Zearfoss getting by Rahmer on the last lap. Chad Dietz, and Brandon Rahmer also made it into the nights A-Main. Fred Rahmer wS pacing back and fourth in the infield watching his sons trying to make it into the main. It was a great race from strart to finish. 


After the dust setteld from that race it was time for the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial race. This is what we drive 4hrs to see. The stage was set, and the cars were being pushed off for their main event. At the drop of the green flag Lucas wolfe put his Zemco #1 out in front of Dewease, and Smith. Wolfe lead the field for the first 8 laps, until Lance and his famous #69k made a move for the top spot in traffic. Smith, Hodnett, Dietrich all followed putting Wolfe back into the 5th spot.A Donnie Kreitz cars hasn’t been to victory lane at Lincoln Speedway in ten years. So the fans were in their feet when the blue car went to the front. 


Dewease pulled out a good lead until the first caution tighter up the field again. After the restart Stevie Smith made a couple attempts to get by Lance but just could. Not make it stick. Mean while Dan Dietrick was up to third charging up on Smith. 

A red flag stopped the race with 6 laps  to go, after Gernard McIntyre put his car on its side in turn four. After the wreck was cleaned up the green flag flew again for a exciting 6 lap dash. Again Smith tried to get past the #69k, but Dewease was doing everything he could to keep the competition behind him. 


With in a couple laps left Dietrich put his foot down and made a hard charge past Smith, and right up to the rear bumper of Dewease. Dan came up a bit short at the checkards, but he put on a heck of a show late in the race. 

It was really cool to to Dewease and Kreitz in victory lane after so long at Lincoln. These two have had a good season so far this year, with a long season to go. 

Next up for PA Speedweek is Party at the Path Sunday night for round two of the week long series. 

Dewease, Dietrich, Smith, Hodnett,and Wolfe rounded out the top five in the A-main. 

We had a great time at Lincoln, and I will definitely be back this year some time for another show. I got home around 3:15 in the morning, but it was well with trip. If you get a chance to head to Pa for a sprint car race this summer. Do it,  you would be disappointed. 

Just in Greg Hodnett won Sunday’s Path Valley race. 

Thank you for stopping by,

I will see you at the track. 

John 

John Zachary Photography.

NHRA Not What It Used To Be

Posted: June 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


NHRA drag racing made a smart move at the end of last season buy signing a tv deal with FOX sports. I think Fox is doing a great job with the coverage so far this year. I miss Mike Dunn for sure. Tony P is doing fine, but I still would like to have Dunn behind the mic. With Fox carrying the races I hope the ratings are up for the good of drag racing.  

Local drag strips seem to be doing well with full classes, and some new blood in the sport. The other day I was reading that the very popular TV show Street Outlaws has helped get more people into the sport of drag racing. If you haven’t heard the NHRA banned street outlaw stars from participating in a NHRA events last year. They do not promote street racing ,and never have. That’s why Wally Parks encouraged people to come racing with the NHRA. He hoped it would stop the illegal street racing and provide a safer place for young hot Rodders to showcase their love for speed.


In my opinion Street outlaws is popular because of the characters that are in the weekly show. Sure the cops trying to catch them in the first few seasons was kinda funny, but we all knew it was fake. In our house we love the cars and the people that represent the different cars. Each night the racing is for the most part great to watch. Farmtruck and Azn make us laugh out loud all the time. Who knows how much of the pre and post race drama is staged, but it is why we watch. We want some one to root for, and root against. The cars have their own personalities that we love or hate too.  

This is what the NHRA is missing. Drama, good guys and gals, bad guys and gals. I’m sure there are things going on behind the scenes that would make it more appealing to the fans. We don’t need fist fights, but some calling out and maybe a few stories about the home life of the drivers during a televised event. 

Now for the cars, they are all the same. Billboards for corporate sponsors running down the track. One can not tell one make from the other.  Where is the Chevy, Ford rivalry? It’s gone. How about naming the cars like they used to do. Give us something to grab hold of and cheer for. I want some rivalries in all of the classes. Let me pick who to cheer for either the good or the bad, make me pick one. It’s all to polished for TV. I think it is hurting the sport, and has been for awhile. 

We have lost our heroes in the sport. Purdome, Bernstein, Johnson, Glidden, Amato. For some reason it is tough to choose someone in each class that I can really get into. I think they are all to bland. Trust me I have tried to start following a few racers and root for them all of the time, but I find myself just watching the race and not really passionate about any one driver. 

Now on the other hand while watching Street Outlaws we have our guys we like and the ones we can’t stand. For what ever reason we pick sides. I love that, that is how it should be. Reality TV is popular, like it or nor it is huge. Why can’t drag racing be more like that, but not staged for tv. I’m sure there are enough stories going on at every event that we the fans would love to see.  This would let us get more personal with the drivers every week. Building a love or not so much with them on a weekly basis. 

  Maybe I’m way off base here, but I know what I like and modern day NHRA drag racing on TV is good but not great. Going to a live event is totally different. You can get behind the scenes more, plus the sounds and smells are unexplainable to anybody that has not been to a race. TV will never be able to grab the side of the sport, it’s a shame they can’t. That’s why Street Outlaws does so well the sounds and smells are not needed as much, because they have a great story line week after week. We look forward to the next show to see what is going to happen with so and so. That’s what we love. We are built to pick sides,so why don’t  we in professional Drag racing?  

   The pro stock class can barely make a full field some weeks. The nitro classes have like three car owners, and the stands are not real full for the most part. When you have teammates running against each other most of the time, it takes the excitement out of it. I am not saying I have the answers to this, but someone should step back and see what made this sport so popular in the past. Street outlaws have itched a spot that has woke up young and old race fans, let’s hope the NHRA can scratch their itch soon. 


If you have any free time this summer go check out a local drag race in your area. Walk around the pit area, talk to some drivers.  If you enjoy cars you will enjoy a day at the strip. Pick a few cars to cheer for during the day, and see how much you get into each race. 

That’s it for now just wanted to get this off my chest. Thank you for stopping by.

See you at the track. 

John