Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse’


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 

   Larry Wight grabbed the pole for the Syracuse 200 

 Billy Dunn with lead the field to the green on Saturday for the 358 Salute The Troops 150
Thursday was a full day at the fair grounds in Syracuse. The day started with practice for both the Big Block modified and the 358 Modifieds. Early on the track was a little heavy making it tough for crews to get their car set up for qualifing later on in the day. So far the track crew has prepared a great track for the teams to run on.Car count is around 300 entries for the finale At Syracuse. You can feel the energy as you enter the fairgrounds. Both the pits and the camping areas are almost full to capacity. 

   Six Time winner Bret Hearn is looking to get his 7th victory to end the 44 year tradition on the mile. 

 
Danny ” The Doctor” Johnson would love to get number two on the Mile this weekend as well. Danny has Been hot so far this week winning both at Weedsport on Wednsday and the Hurticane 100 last night at Brewerton. 

Friday the weather with be the topic of the day with some rain moving into the area for the day. We hope it will move through in time to get some races in that are scheduled for a full day of racing. Plus at Rolling Wheels Raceway Friday night is a small block race and the ESS sprint cars roll into town for Super Dirt Week.

   Veteran Frank Cozze runs a tad tight in between turns one and two

 AWSOME throwback paint jobs grace the Moody Mile giving us long time spectators “Goosebumps” when we see them. Justin Haers works his “Billy Taylor” look a like car around the Mile during qualifing. 
My son Vanze Zachary is shooting with me this week for APEX Auto Magzine. VNze is doing a great job covering this historic event. Below are some of his images from the week so far. 

   
 
   
  
Thank you for stopping by. 

Take care

John 

 

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