OSWEGO, NY – Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway is moving forward! A recent press gathering on a beautiful Tuesday morning showed the many many improvements and changes, and even included a ceremonial dumping of dirt on the front straight. As a 20 year fan and competitor at the speedway, it’s dramatic to watch the changes, at such a rapid pace. But it’s happening, and it looks great!
DIRTcar CEO Brian Carter was the first to the podium at the press event, and there was no question about his enthusiasm. A ton of work has been done since New York State approved the project on July 15th, but everything looked to be on schedule. The more I see, and the more people I speak with, I see so much that is different about this event, compared to previous Super DIRT Weeks, or any other dirt race, for that matter.
Other speakers included Oswego Speedway owner John Torrese, who thanked New York State, Oswego County, and Oswego mayor Billy Barlow. City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow welcomed Super Dirt Week, and dirt racing fans, as well as thanking Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State development.
Jeff Hachmann, director of DIRTcar events, pointed out that SDW would be the biggest Modified racing event in the northeast. Gary Risch, who is overseeing the track application project for DIRTcar recognized Eric Kingsley, Larry Fink, and John and Larry Wight for the application of the clay, which was laid down over top of wood chips, to help protect the asphalt surface. Risch has been involved in a similar project in Rockford, Illinois, and said that he “learned a lot” on that project. Drivers Peter Britten, Larry Wight, Otto Sitterly, and Max and Mike McLaughlin also had a few words.
All haulers will be parked behind the rear grandstands, where there will be access roads and space laid out for 304 pit stalls. The pits will be full access, like NHRA events, where a grandstand wristband gets you anywhere you want to be in the whole area, excluding the pits inside the track. “Big Block Boulevard” will connect the pits to Jim Shampine drive, the main road in front of the speedway.
The racecars will exit the track to the pits off of the third turn gate, and enter the track on the fourth turn, where a new gate has just been built. A recently built and rarely used access road up the hill behind turns 3-4 will provide plenty of room for the racecars to use that 4th turn entrance.
More than 200,000 pounds of steel were used to rehab the rear grandstands, which will seat over 6,000. Total seating between front and rear grandstands comes to 11,757 seats. Of which I predict could sell out.
The 813 25’X50’ camping spots sold out in 26 hours. Fans and people entering the hot pits inside the speedway will enter through pedestrian gates on the back straight, and the first turn. Different from most tracks is the fact that when you’re inside in the pits, you’re locked in until gates are opened, only when cars aren’t on the track. There’s no heading to the stands, or to your car for a jacket when cars are moving.
No haulers will be in the infield, so teams will have to carry all of their equipment in when their cars are racing. Expect to see some pretty loaded and huge pit carts.
As this was written, around 600 dump truck loads of clay had been laid down on the surface, reported pulled from the same pit used by the Weedsport Speedway. Materials alone cost about $75-$100,000, according to Carter.
As I live and work in the area, I stop by to look at the track frequently, and it looks great. Clay was applied in three 2-3” layers, with time in between each layer to settle, according to Carter. The layered application allows time to “fill in soft spots” before applying the next layer, Carter added.
The unprecedented 300 lap event will definitely test the new surface. Pit stops will be live, as drivers will likely have to pit at least twice to make it on fuel. Oswego’s basic layout is very conducive to hot pit stops, with good access roads in and out of the speedway surface. Should be a very smooth place to have a pit stop.
Parking for the event on the premises is limited, to allow for the 813 camping spots. 600 reserved spots, for VIP and handicapped, will be available at the track. A $50 fee will be charged for the 400 VIP spots.
The rest of the parking will take place up route 104 at the Scriba Fire Department, which I clocked with my car at exactly 2.2 miles east. A four minute drive to the City Line Road entrance of the speedway grounds.
Parking for 1,000 cars is available there, and 3-5 shuttle busses will be there to take people to and from the track.
Parking spots are also being reserved at Lighthouse Lanes, which is literally a stone’s throw from the speedway, for I believe $40. Savvy / brave locals will also probably fill in some spots at big parking lots at nearby locals stores like WalMart, Price Chopper, Ollie’s, etc., which is also a short walk.
The road in front of the speedway, Jim Shampine Drive, will be completely blocked to vehicle traffic. Vendors and food stands will be set up on the road and in front of the front grandstands, which should make for an excellent carnival like atmosphere. VIP and handicapped parking will be just past this area, before where the camping will begin. Over two miles of fence will keep people where they belong. Or don’t belong.
It was announced that all four divisions from NAPA Super DIRT Week will be broadcast on MAVTV, in November.
The DIRTcar Big Block Modified 300 will be shown on Thanksgiving night in a two hour show, and the 358 Mods, DIRTcar Sportsman, and the DIRTcar Pro Stocks will all have one hour broadcasts. This is HUGE for teams out there looking for sponsorship for the event.
Despite all of the permanent renovations and improvements to the premises, Carter still maintains that this is, at this time, a one year deal for the event to happen in Oswego. The plan is still to move the event to Central New York Raceway Park in Central Square, N.Y., when the facility is ready. (I watched Carter’s eyes very closely for a wink when I asked him, as many feel that CNYRP may never be completed. No “wink” was detected). These are huge upgrades for a one year deal.
Rumors of a springtime dirt race race before Oswego’s supermodified season are unfounded, as the plan is to take the clay up immediately following the conclusion of SDW. Carter said that DIRTcar wouldn’t want to commit to such a big event at this time. It is thought also that the off season and snow and six months of weather would be very important to getting the track back in racing shape. Additionally, the rained out Race of Champions pavement modified show has been rescheduled for October 29th at Oswego Speedway. Yes, I said PAVEMENT mod. The occasional keyboard cowboy that insists the track will stay dirt afterwards is a little wacky.
As this story was written September 25th, everything is going well and on schedule, according to Jason Simmons, of D&S Landscaping.
Simmons has been working with Torrese and World Racing Group for the last couple weeks, on the site daily, overseeing many of the projects.
Such as the campground renovations, plumbers, excavators, electricians, etc. He or his crews aren’t involved in the application of the surface, but he has been involved with roads, telephone poles, clearing brush, wood chips, and many other projects.
“I’m DIRT’s local guy that can help find the people”, said Simmons when asked what his title is. In addition to supervising projects, much of Simmons’ equipment, and his own D&S employees are on the scene.
“Things are going good. The roads, grounds, the track, and etc. are on schedule and in great shape. The campground will come down to the wire, but it will be done”, said Simmons. Simmons is putting his money where his mouth is. He will have four race cars of his own in competition at SDW.