2009 Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame Class Announced

The 2009 Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet will be on Saturday October 24th at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. A block of rooms has been set aside at a “Speedway Rate” and the Hospitality Room is back for 2009. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-771-7711. The Novelis Supermodified track championship #7 car of Otto Sitterly and the PathFinder Bank SBS track championship car #50 of David Gruel will be on hand at the banquet. Mitchell’s Speedway Press is the sponsor of the Hall of Fame and Chris Nelson Insurance is the sponsor of the Awards Ceremony.

The 2009 banquet will be in the Events Center and tickets are again priced at $40 for the third year in a row. Cocktails will be at 5:30, a buffet dinner will begin at 6:30 and door prizes will be given out at 7:30. The Mitchell’s Speedway Press Hall of Fame and Chris Nelson Insurance 2009 Awards ceremony will begin at 7:45. Seating reservations will be accepted for groups purchasing between eight and twelve tickets. Unreserved tables with seating for multiple groups smaller than eight will also be available. The cut off date for purchasing tickets is Monday October 19th.

2009 season ending awards will be presented to competitors in the Novelis Supermodifieds and PathFinder Bank SBS Series. Along with the top twenty supermodified drivers that will receive Hoosier & Coca Cola point fund checks from the Oswego Speedway and the Eagles Fan Club, additional awards are scheduled to be presented to Otto Sitterly, Stephen Gioia III, Keith Gilliam, Ray Graham, Jr., Charlie Schultz, Trent Stephens and Daniel Connors, Jr. After the Hoosier & PowerAde point fund and Eagles Fan Club checks are presented to the SBS drivers, additional awards are scheduled to be presented to David Gruel, Tim Barbeau, Steve Abt and Andrew Schartner. The Oswego Speedway will be presenting their “Recognition” and “Ed Clark” awards and the Eagles Fan Club will also be presenting the Tony White and Jim Shampine “Memorial Awards” for 2009.

The 2009 Hall of Fame class will be inducted on that night. Five deserving members will represent the four categories of Officials, Special Achievement, Owner and Driver.

Officials: Dick O’Brien and John Hill

Dick O’Brien was an all-around sports nut that approached Harry Caruso, the owner of the Oswego Speedway in 1964, with the notion that racing at Oswego should get coverage on the pages of the Syracuse area newspapers. O’Brien succeeded in his quest to get the happenings at the speedway in print for others to read. Three years later in 1967, at the age of twenty six, O’Brien took over as Track Manager from Willie Hacket and the rest, as they say, is history. The title of Track Manager would be one that O’Brien would hold for more than thirty years at the Oswego Speedway. From the very beginning in 1967 he helped to bring USAC Sprint Cars back for a return visit to the speedway with stars such as Mario Andretti and Bobby and Al Unser. Nearly twenty years later, in the mid 1980’s, O’Brien was there when the ASA Late Models brought in established NASCAR drivers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison and future stars Alan Kulwicki and Mark Martin. For his promotional efforts and presiding over the racing operation in his position as Track Manager in parts of four different decades, Dick O’Brien enters the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame.

John Hill took his love of automobile racing from being an Oswego Speedway track corner man to writing for the Eagle program and then filing his reports on local and national racing interests for over three decades with the Syracuse Post-Standard. Hill’s love of open wheel racing was evident in his very first racing column for the Oswego Eagle on opening day 1967 when he previewed the running of that day’s Indianapolis 500 along with clearing up some off-season rumors about some Oswego Speedway competitors. Hill was especially excited about the USAC Sprint Cars running at Oswego in the late 1960’s. After forty two years of writing about racing at the Oswego Speedway, Hill’s topics went full circle as he was again equally excited about the USAC return to the Oswego Speedway this past August 6th for the Kasey Kahne Steel Palace Classic. When Carol Haynes became the first female to enter the Hall of Fame in 2008 for her writing support of supermodified racing it was decided that John Hill would follow her in 2009. Hill wrote his weekly Post-Standard column into July of this year but unfortunately lost his private battle with cancer just one week before the USAC Series made that return trip to the Oswego Speedway in August. For his support and exposure for supermodified racing at Oswego and around the country, John Hill enters the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame in 2009.

Special Achievement: Mark Regan

Another milestone was reached in 2008 when the Hall of Fame recognized the first ever drivers of the Limited Supermodified division, Bob Goutermount and Mike Bond, in the “Special Achievement” category. One of the original drivers when the Limited Supermodifieds debuted as a support class in 1992 at the Oswego Speedway was Mark Regan. He hung around long enough to see them become the PathFinder Bank SBS Series. Regan raced in the first sixteen years that the class competed and has filled in a few times in the former Tony White #4 since his retirement. Regan stands at sixth place on the all time win list with ten victories and is in the top three in all-time top five finishes. He is the all-time points leader in the history of the division ahead of Mike Bond. Regan picked up the “Car and Crew of the Year Award” in 1999. He won track championships in 2001 and 2002 and picked up the “Mr. Small Block Super” title in 2007. He won his first ever feature on August 8, 1998 by one car length over Hall of Famer Mike Bond. In 2009 Mark Regan joins Bond and Goutermount as he enters the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame.

Car Owner: Dave McKnight, Sr.

Oswego Speedway has long been a favorite destination for Canadian race fans and competitors. During the late 1970’s a team made up of a Canadian owner and driver claimed the two biggest prizes at the speedway in less than two full seasons. Dave McKnight, Sr. unveiled a beautiful Dates Chassis #6 at the start of the 1977 season with John Spencer behind the wheel. At the same time Warren Coniam had teamed up with his father-in-law Doug Syer to compete in another Dates Chassis #52. After Coniam collected a feature win on June 25th at Oswego, he totaled the car the next day at Fulton Speedway. McKnight and the #6 had not reached the potential that he felt was there so Warren Coniam was named driver of the #6 on July 9th. Coniam would crank off three second place feature finishes in the first five weeks that he piloted the car. The pinnacle of Oswego Speedway racing was reached on Classic Weekend when Coniam won the International Classic. The popular win started the tradition of playing the National Anthem of the winning drivers’ country at the conclusion of the Classic race. In 1978, McKnight and Coniam pulled off another Oswego goal and won the track championship in dramatic fashion. Even though Jimmy Shampine won twelve features in 1978 with eleven of those being in a row, it was Warren Coniam’s fourteen top five finishes in the McKnight #6 that garnered the track title away from Shampine. The team would not compete together after 1978 but in one and one half seasons they picked up a track championship, twenty one top five finishes and one win…the 1977 International Classic. For this great streak of success by two Canadians, Dave McKnight, Sr. enters the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame.

Driver: Pat Abold

Second generation driver Pat Abold came on the scene in 1989 and is most remembered for a wild ride he took in turn number two during that rookie season. The fact that he and his team brought the car back the very next week and won the consi was a sign that this driver was surrounded by a committed group of people. Abold had already been a championship snowmobile racer before he ever strapped into a supermodified. After buying someone else’s super to get used to the division, his team purchased a brand new car and in the 1992 season heads started to turn. Abold brought some fiberglass and aerodynamic ideas to supermodifieds that had worked for him in his snowmobile days. The designs caught the attention of other competitors and the Oswego Speedway Tech Team but everything was within the rule book and in the years to come other teams would eventually borrow some of his team’s designs. Abold developed a liking for the outside groove with the new car during that 1992 season and went on to post eight feature victories, including the “Mr. Supermodified” title on his way to the track championship. His highlights at Oswego in 1993 included winning the second ever ISMA winged race at the track and his opening night win after starting the feature race in last place. A mid summer tangle kept his car sidelined for two features in 1993 and that probably cost him a repeat track title. His highlight for ISMA in 1993 was winning his second consecutive points title as the competitive ISMA series extended their schedule and raced in Concord, North Carolina for the first time. Abold picked up his third ISMA point title in 2005 to go along with his 1992 & 1993 titles. With twenty two career feature wins at Oswego Speedway and another seventeen on the ISMA trail, Pat Abold enters the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame in 2009.