Posts Tagged ‘dirtcar’


Yes it’s true so far this summer my lens has been full of sprint cars. I was born and raised on Dirt Modifieds, and I still love ❤️ attending a good Big block race. With this being said there is nothing like a winged sprint car running wide open on a tight dirt track. This summer I am shooting for Race Pro Weekly, so this has giving me more opertunities to cover races that I might not have been able to in the past. 


My Spring started at the Utica Rome Speedway for a 360 Sprint car show, as well as Big Block Modifieds. This years spring was very wet, so the Utica Rome track was a bit of a challenge for the track crew. It felt great getting back to the track to cover some of my favorite race cars on earth.  Both classes had a good amount of entries for the nights racing action. 360 sprint cars hit the track first for their heat races. A couple laps into the first race the dust was so bad they had to stop the race to apply more water. I know with all the rain we had you would think dust wouldn’t be an issue, but it was. After a ton of water was put on to the parched surface, and the sun made its way behind the grand stands, the track was all set for a good night of racing. A few teams pulled out early. They should have stayed put, because the track and racing was great for the rest of the night. 



Next up was a Sunday trip to Pennsylvania. We made our way to Action Track USA  for the 4th annual “Dick Tobias Classic”. This was my first visit to the popular track that runs SpeeedSTR’s, 600cc Micros, and Modified like Slingshots. The place was packed with both cars and fans. I absolutely loved this place. The racing was top notch, as well as the facility. Richie Tobias and crew do a fantastic job with this little jewel of a race track.  I hope to get back to The Action Track again this year. 


Third on my summer schedule was the World Of Outlaws Sprint Cars at Weedsport Speedway. If you haven’t been to the newly redone Weedsport Speedway I highly suggest you do. The WOO sprint cars do not make as many visits to upstate NY as they used to but, when they do it is awesome. I was blessed to be able to cover this race for Race Pro Weekly this year. Butterfly’s filled my gut as I walked into the pit area looking at the line of stacker trailers, and the best sprint cars in the nation. 


The track was perfect during hot laps, qualifying and the first few heat races. Unforchanitly Mother Nature thought the track needed some water. 😩 we waited it out for a while but the rain held on long enough that they had to reschedule the race in October. Sad night, but I was able to get some good shots. I will see you in October lol. 


In between these sprint car races that I was covering, I was also covering Flat Track motorcycles, and big block Modified action around central NY. 

Last winter I made plans to head to PA for the USAC Eastern Storm week. A full week of wingless sprint cars, Midgets, and the historic Silver Crown cars. My wife Tammy and I made our way to Lincoln Speedway for round two of the Eastern Eastern Storm. 


This was my first time seeing USAC Sprint Cars, and boy am I glad I did. These things are awesome. I love winged sprint cars, but this is a whole different deal. As far as picture taking they are just beautiful to shoot. Winged cars stay as straight as they can for speed, these guys do the complete opposite. They drive down into the corners and throw it completely sideways. Wow 😳 that is wicked. 


I was able to shoot from both the inside and outside of the track. I was smiling the entire night. It was great watching the top drivers from USAC battling on the popular tracks in PA. The racing was good from green to checkard at Lincoln. We absolutely loved it. 


Tammy and I left Lincoln and headed toward Williams Grove to spend the night. Thursday we woke up had breakfast and cruised  around PA killing time before we headed the the famous Williams Grove Speedway. Along with the sprint cars, we were also going to see some USAC/ ARDC Midgets on the fast 1/2 mile oval. 


We pulled into the track a bit early, so we set up our lawn chairs, and watched the race cars pull in for the nights action. I wasn’t shooting for anybody but my self at the Grove. It was fine because of the nice access that is avalible to the fans in the infield. We walked through the pits checking out the cars and drivers. It was very cool getting up close to these guys that we see on TV during the year. 

Tammy and I made our way over to turns 1 & 2 with our chairs to enjoy the nights races. Both races were great from start to finish. I have found a new love in racing. Wingless sprint cars are great to watch. A bucket list item for all race fans. 


After the full night of  racing we started our 3 1/2 hr trip home. We pulled into our driveway at 3:10am Friday morning. I’m not 18 any more but getting home that late was worth every minute of lost sleep. 😴

Again gin between these races I was going to motorcycle races and covered some local car shows. My summer was kicking into high gear for sure. 


In June I made my way back to Weedsport Speedway for the first ever Ultimate Wingless Shootout. Empire Super Sprints/ URC drivers removed their wings for a shot of winning $5000 at Weedsport.  Again rain threatened us all night long. It did rain a bit early on, setting the race back a bit, but we were able to get the entire show in. Along with the sprintcars, the very popular Sportsman Modifieds were on the card as well. 


The night was full of action, from great side by side racing to sprint cars flipping and landing in trees. Yes I said landing in trees. Three laps into practice one driver launched his car over the turn one wall perching himself in a tree just outside of the track. The driver was un injured, and the track crew learned how to get a race car out of a tree. That wasn’t the only incident we had during the night. Three or four more cars got in their top before the final checkard flag flew. 

Below is Mark Smith the winner of the A-Main and $5000. 
My self I really enjoyed the show, and I hope this becomes a regular thing up here in NY. I think this might be a way to get more young race fans to the track. 

July 1st I made my way back to the Fulton Speedway for some 360 Sprint Cars, Big block mods, sports and, latemodles, and fireworks 💥. I know that’s a full night of racing. This was the second to last night of Sprint week for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS). The weather was great and the pit area was full of top runners in all divisions. With all of the rain we have had the track was fast and heavy the entire night. 


As usual The racing was excellent in all classes. Fulton is a great place for dirt track racing. It seems like there is always a battle going on in the front of the field. Above ESS Feature winner Jason Barney at speed during his heat race. 


So that’s if for now, my summer is cranking up with lots more racing ahead of me for the three months. And yes a lot more sprint cars. Look for my Motorcycle, and Modified post coming here soon.

Take Care

 I will see you at the track. 

John 

   Hello everybody, come on in have a seat. In this series I will be talking about race tracks that I started flinging to as a kid and what dirt Modified racing was like back then. 

   Dirt track racing in the 7o’s and 80’was what I lived for. We lived on Rt 41 in Scott, NY. This was the route that a lot of the race car haulers would take to get to Weedsport Speedway, and Rolling Wheels Raceway. On a normal race night drivers like Mike Colsten, Don Beagle,  Carl ” Bub” Nagle, and The Pink Panther Chuck Akulis would drive right by my house. This was awesome seeing my local heros passing by as I was getting ready to head to the track my self. 

   What was really cool was when one of tracks were running a special show, like a Crc series race or a mid week 100 lapper. Then the big guys from out of town would pull their open trailers, and ramp trucks up the hill near our house. I could hear them before I could see them. After a while I could tell who it was before they went by. Horton and his beautiful statewide #3 ramp truck, Brightbill, Tobias, Brenn, Hearn, you name it they went by. 

   We knew who was going to be racing that night before we even got there, now this was cool. My Grand father would pick up my dad and myself every Sunday afternoon.  After the 45 min drive we would hang a right into the Speedway. As we pulled into the parking area the time the pits were on our right, outside of turn one. Butterfly’s would fill my stomach as we drove out into the field to park. 

   Open trailers lined up at the pit gate while the bleachers filled up with loyal race fans. My Grandfather and Dad would buy the tickets and  we would walk through the gate behind the front stretch. The place was always busy with people roaming around, and the lines to the food building were starting to form. The smell of Hoffman hotdogs exited from the building on our left, making my mouth water as soon as I walking in. It seemed like there were 100 hot dogs on the grill at any given time. 

   Just behind the announcers tower was where the lucky number program table was. The guys yelled “get your lucky number program here”. Along with a guy selling the Gator News Racing paper.  To the right of us was the popcorn stand, hand cut french fry booth, and the photo stand. All the way down into turn one was the pit entrance, and the men’s bathroom. We would always go to the left and enter the bleacher area at the flaggers stand. Mud packers were always making laps on the very wet clay surface. We would sit in the same area each week, 1/2 between turn four and the flaggers stand. 

   This gets me all excited just talking about it. The track would always come in pretty quick. Making hot laps fast and exciting. The latemodels would be the first race cars on the track. After making a few slow laps the surface be ready hot laps. These cars were more like street stocks of Today. They always put on a great show, rubbing fenders and using their bumpers. Modified greats like Castle, Paine, Kappeser started in the latemodel class. 


Bob Vormwald in his always fast Chevelle. (Unknown photographer)

   After the latemodels completed their hot laps it was time for the Big blocks. I remember starring down into turn one as the modifieds enterd the track on the high side of turns one and two. This is why we were there, the Mods. Jake Johnson, My Hero Will Cagle, Jimmy Winks, Pete Cortes, Ray Delmata, Johnny Podalak, Mert Treichler, Dave Late. The list goes on. It was Sunday so most everybody was there to end their weekend of racing. 

   During the 70’s “The Tampa Terror” Will Cagle won six track championships. Dave lape Got one from Cagle in 1977 and Jumpin Jack started the 80’s with a track championship. 

   Donny Bushbacher, Mike Colsten, Walt Mitchell, And Jim Gabriel won Championships in the Latemodele division. Denny Plank was the man to beat int the 320 Limited Sportsman class  in the mid 70’s. 


Denny Planck and his crew. ( unknown photographer). 

   Back then the cars were not the cookie cutter cars that we watch today. Drivers and crew members would cut, weld, and grind on their machines to get an advantage on their fellow racers. Innovation was moving fast back then. Coupe body’s, and coaches were on their way out for the most part in the middle 70’s. The Gremlin, Vega, and Pinto made up most of the cars that raced on the DIRT circuit. 

   Every week the stands were packed with fans,  and the pits were full of fast race cars . I remember yelling for my favorite drive for the entire 35 lap feature. Lap after lap. I loved watching Cagle set up the car in front of him to gain a spot in the heavily stacked field. Sometimes he would move a guy if he had to. I did not agree with that, but hey when your racing for a living every position counts. The crowd would go nuts if he moved somebody to get by It was awesome. 

   Young guns like Alan Johnson, and his brother Danny were making their way into the modified division with consistent runs at Weedsport. I remember Danny in the Sicerbeaux 0 car.That car was very cool. 

   Weedsport did not have walls around it then. A car would go off of turn one into the corn field. We would watch to see them re enter the track on the back stretch with corn stalks packed in the front shocks. Flagger Bobby Watson could see if the car was still moving from his perch.  After the heat races legendary announcer Jack Burgess would talk about the nights racing so far, and call out lucky numbers from the program. 

   We would have a couple track dogs and a drink while the crews prepared their cars for the feature races. Everybody would make their way back to the bleachers when they heard the pit Stewart calling for the latemodels to the staging area. Some times they would have the drivers bring their cars out onto the track for Kiddie Rides. We would line up at the gate on the front stretch to hopefully get a ride with my favorite driver. The officials would pack us kids all over these cars for a couple laps around the track. I remember the smell, noice and heat that was coming off the cars as we made our laps. Plus seeing the drivers without their helmets was very cool too. Good times for sure. 

   Both feature races seemed to be exciting almost every week. First the latemodels, then the Big Block Modifieds. After the last feature’s Checkered flags fell, we made our way back to Grandpas car. On the way home we would talk about the nights races, and what went on during the feature. We all had different drivers that we pulled for. This made it more interesting how we each viewed the race. 

These days can never be replaced, and for good reason.  

Next time I will talk about racing in the 80’s at “The Port”

Please stop again by for some more memories of Early DIRT racing. 

Talk to you soon,

John. 

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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