Posts Tagged ‘dirtmodifieds’

Hello everybody, I am sure most of you have heard the sad news about Super Dirt Week in Syracuse, NY. This will be the last year for this event as we know it on the mile. New York State is tearing down the Granstands and removing the legendary “Moody Mile” race track. 

Last year marked the 43rd running of Super Dirt Week in Syracuse, NY. Since 1972 Northeast Dirt Modified have been coming together in Syracuse for their biggest race of the season. This event is run at the NYS Fairgrounds on a 1 mile dirt oval. This race has always been the race that would put a driver up a notch in Dirt Track Racing. Geoff Bodine, Bobby Allison, Six time winner Brett Hearn, Will Cagle, Jack Johnson and other top name drivers have competed at the Moody mile in early October.

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I started going to SDW in 1973, the second running of the event. It was called the Shaffer 100 back then. My dad and I joined some of our racing friends at the fairgrounds every year for a week of racing and fellowship. The first few years we camped in the horse barns located just outside the track. We loved staying in them, it was dry and a great place for young boys to have fun. After a few years of that some people started to burn the wood from the barns and ruined it for everybody.

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I love SDW it was such a big event for me to attend. Dirt racing was what I lived for. My friends and I would know all the drivers, where they were from, what kind of car they drove, that’s what we did. The first 7 years outsiders won the race every year, Reutmann, Osmun, Tobias and the always popular ( not ) Gary Balough. Balough won three in a row from 76-78. In 1979 one of our local champions finally won the big one for upstate NY. “Jumping” Jack Johnson piloted his famous 12a to victory  making all of us local fans really happy.I was a Will Cagle fan, but I still thought it was great that a local finally won the big one.

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In 1980 DIRT Modifieds changed forever. I remember a friend and I were walking down near turn one in the infield when we saw it. A beautiful black weird shaped car that went sailing down into turn one, we both looked at each other and said what and who the heck is that? Well we later found out that it was Gary Balough in a Kenny Weld built Lincoln Continental, AKA “The Batmobile”. After the first day of practice and qualifying, other teams started adding sheet metal to their now “old style” race cars. Merv Treichler raised his roof up, Kenny Brightbill added side panels to his Famous Pinto body, and Geoff Bodine added sheet metal everywhere he could, to try and use loophole in the rule book to his advantage. It was crazy that year, the sport was changing right in front of our eyes and we didn’t even realize it until the next year. That was the fun of SDW, guys would show up with brand new stuff that looked a little different from their Saturday night cars that they had run all season.

Open trailers with car covers is how it was in the early years, Then beautiful ramp trucks with Grant King Modifieds under cover on the back. We couldn’t wait to see what was under the covers early in the week. Then came the enclosed trailers that seemed to be a mile long, with two cars and spare engines stuffed inside. This was very cool to see.

The weather was always a issue at SDW. In 77 it rained so hard the tunnels under the track filled up with water. They postponed that years event until the spring of the next year. In April we didn’t have rain, but we did have snow. We bundled up in sleeping bags to watch the race from the Grandstands. Tigh Scott, Wayne Reutimann, Howie Cronce were involved in a huge wreck on the back stretch. That was crazy. Luckily no one was hurt. Wayne’s car had the entire roof ripped right off. 

 
I love Big Block Modifieds, but let’s talk about sprint cars at SDW. The Super Nationals wow what a show 👍🏻. The first few years the Super Modifieds were mixed in with the sprint cars. This very cool to see on the mile. Things changed when the World Of Outlaws started to sanction the event. There is nothing like a WOO sprint car making laps on the mile. The greats like Kinser, Swindell, Kauffman, Pauch had great Battles year after year. Kinser and Haud had an epic battle one year, when they both  got out of their cars they went over to each other with huge smiles saying that was one heck of a race.

   
 
It was sad day when SDW removed the Sprint Cars from the event. I loved watching my heros driving into turn three, never lifting. It is a memory that I try to explain to my sons, but just can’t explian as good as it was. 

Nowadays  SDW has Big Block Mods, Small Blocks, Sportsman, Prostock, and USAC Silver crown cars. It’s a great line up of dirt racing. Each class seems to be full and very competitive. 

   
I have meet so many friends at SDW. From Vinny at the Voodoo lounge, to guys that we see every year for a racing reunion. I remember riding my bike all over that place, from racing bikes on the front stretch at night, to riding over to the trade show that used to be in the center of progress building. 

My friends and I would hang out at the infield bar playing video games like Tron and watching our favorite drivers tip a few back after a long days of racing. One year my son and I were standing on a scaffolding in turn three, and up comes Jack Johnson (2 timer winner of SDW) to watch his son during practice. Billy Decker, Kenny Brightbill would show up at our campfire during the week. These memories can’t be replaced. 

  
Watching AJ Slidways come from the back to win. The Batmobile, Dick “Toby” Tobias, I could go on forever but I won’t. I hope that whereever SDW moves to, race fans can create memories,and start a new tradition with their friends and family. 

The first full week of October has always been marked SDW on my calender and always will be. It has been a wonderful ride. Super Dirt Week will live on in a new way. 

   
   
See you in October. 

Take care 

John