Posts Tagged ‘ESS’


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 

Labor Day weekend means the end of summer here in Central, NY. It also means dirt racing is fast and furious in the area. This year it all started on Saturday night at a Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, NY. 

The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints headlined the show with a 25 lap main event, along with the CRSA 305 Sprints, open Sportsman, 692 Soortsman, Rookie Sportsman, Empore Lighting Sprints, SRP Sprints, Street Stocks,Xcell 600 Modifieds, and the always popular Modifieds. 

Yes all of this for $20 on a Saturday night. 177 cars, 10 features were on the bill for the night atop the Mountain. The stands were packed for a full programs of dirt racing. Only the ESS and CRSA classes ran heat races during the program. The rest of the classes ran just a feature race making it a great show for the fans. 

I wasn’t shooting this event, so the images below are ESS cars from a event at Rolling Wheels Raceway a few weeks ago

   
 
All of the races were great, but the ESS main event was awesome. Eventual winner Curt Michael fought his way to the front from the 10th starting spot. Early leader Chuck Hebing, Robbie Stillwagon and defending series champion Steve Poirier battled wheel to wheel for most of the 25 laps. Lap traffic was thick on the small dirtoval, making it hard for the leaders to get out on the guy behind him. Michael made a pass for the lead on the outside of Hebing late in the race, but the caution flew and they reverted back to the last lap putting Curt back in the second spot. ESS does side by side restarts up till one or two laps to go. This means Hebing had his choice of starting inside or outside on the restart. Chuck choose the outside, putting Michael on the inside. Michael had been running the top most of the night, so this would be interesting to see if he could make the car work on the bottom. As the field mashed the gas coming out of turn four, Hebing pulled out a small lead going into turn one on Miichael. Chuck drove it deep into the first turn with Curt right next to him on the bottom. The two made slight contact, giving Michael the advantage coming out of two. That was just enough to get out on the top five and take the win over a stellar field of cars. Stillwagon tried to get around Hebing on the last lap, but came up a bit short, to finish third. 

I haven’t had the chance to see ESS in a few years, but I must say they put on a great show, with top notch Cars and Drivers. 

Next up for the weekend was the Lucas Oil ESS at Utica Rome Raceway. We planned on going to see Steve Miller at the New York State Fair Sunday night, but with the high temps we decided to travel east to watch some more Sprint car racing. Again I didn’t shoot this race, so I will use a few pictures from a race a few weeks ago at Utica Rome and Rolling Wheels. 

  
Stewert Friesen above was on hand in both the Sprint cars and Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds. Mike Mahaney, Larry Wight, and Danny Varin also pulled double duty Sunday night at Utica Rome. 38 sprint cars were on hand for the nights Lucas Oil ESS show. Four heats, Dash for cash and a B main were in the docket for the sprint cars. 

  
The track was dry slick from the hot weather and full sunshine beating on the track. This made it tricky for the competitors in all classes, but just a touch more for the super fast light weight sprint cars. During the heat races the middle of the track was pretty slick, but the inside and top had a decent amount of bite for the 360 cars to get a hold of. The top four in the heats went to the redraw, to set up the starting g grid for the A-main. The dash and B-Main would fill out the rest of the 25 car field.

  
By the time the ESS drivers pulled out onto the track, the bottom groove had been diminished to a 12-14inch piece of tacky dirt. The top had been blown off, making it a very thin line to run for 25 laps. One slip on the top could end up being a costly mistake. At the drop of the green the fast guys from the heat races set off on their quest to find some traction to help them get to the front. Early leader #33 Mike Mahaney pulled out to a decent lead on second place#51 Bryan Howland. Mike was on the bottom scratching for that little bit of relastate next to the tires. Local favorite #1 Stewert Friesen, (behind the Wherl of his wife’s 360 sprint car) was searching high and low for traction. Friesen ran the top to get around cars on the bottom line, and sneak under the guys running the middle of the track. By the time Stewert made it to the second spot leader Mahaney was deep in lap traffic. Mahaney is new in the sprint cars. Doug Emery put Mike behind the wheel of his we’ll know #33 car for the weekend. Friesen was on the bottom so far when he came out if turn four the car would get bite and move hard toward the outside wall on the front stretch. 

  
Friesen made his way to the back bumper of Mahaney, in lap traffic. He worked in Mike for a few laps on the bottom. Finally Mike slipped up a touch and Stewert drove by him down the back stretch. Mahaney tried to stay close to Friesen, but Stewart was to strong out front in clean air. Saturday nights winner at Thunder Mountain Curt Michael worked his way up to the third spot behind Mahaney at the end of 25 laps. Michael said he was happy with his weekends results, because he wasn’t used to the slick tracks in NY. Curt is used to running on the high bite tracks in PA.. Brian Howland, and Larry Wight, rounded out the top five.  

  
It was a great weekend of sprint car racing in Central, NY. We had a great time at these tracks, and look forward to seeing the Empire Super Sprints in the near future. I you get a chance to see this show, do it it is worth every penny. Visit Empire Super Sprints for their full schedule. 

I hope to see you at the track

Take Care

John