Around the “O”

By – Chris Porter

Supermodified fans and competitors will start to see the pits become a bit more crowded over the coming weeks as teams yet to hit the Oswego Speedway put the final touches on their 2010 rides. Mexico’s Michael Barnes says his Osetek-Buske creation is scheduled to visit the track as early as this weekend.

(Mike Barnes with the 2009 Osetek-Buske No. 66) Barnes will be piloting a new Osetek-Buske creation in 2010

Barnes says cockpit issues have delayed their season debut a few weeks, but other than a few final touches, the car is all squared and ready to go. Initially, the team’s primary goal will be just to get it rolling around Oswego’s fast 5/8 oval, but greater expectations are sure to follow.

Long-time competitor, Hal LaTulip is gunning for the Fourth of July weekend show as his date to debut his brand new No. 56 supermodified. LaTulip says the project began early last November and stemmed from the belief that his 1995 Graves chassis was simply “outdated.”

“The back is kind of like an Xtreme and the front is kind of like a Hawk,” LaTulip said of the machine he, his father and nephew have spent the last eight months building. LaTulip noted that though it was home-built, Joe Hawksby, Jr. helped out quite a bit.

LaTulip won’t be among the multi-car teams in Oswego’s pit area. His older Graves chassis has generously donated its own seat, steering, fuel cell and motor.

Another driver who’s looking at an early July arrival is Bill Sharkey. “It’s a full roller,” Sharkey said. “The body is 99% done and the motor’s all ready. It just needs the plumbing.”

Sharkey admits that if he were truly in a rush, he could be at the track in no time. However, though he very much looks forward to getting back behind the wheel again, supermodified racing is not atop his list of priorities. Understandably, family and work prevail, putting racing in the position of having to jockey for that all important “free time.”

Sharkey’s confident that he’ll be competitive and he’s anxious to drive a supermodified again. He’ll be sporting an older, but updated Howard Page-built chassis.

Nearly ready to debut his brand new Xtreme supermodified chassis, is Andy Noto. Like Sharkey, Noto says there’s not much left to do other than some plumbing and cosmetics. In fact, he says if his team were in “thrashing” mode, it could be done in a week.

However, he too has been hard-pressed to find supermodified prep time amidst a whirlwind of happenings in his personal life.  Following a bout with cancer last year, his father hadn’t been feeling well as of late. However, things have taken a turn for the good again. On the flip side, Andy’s grandfather passed away this past week.

Hal LaTulip will be upgrading his 1995 Graves chassis (above) to a 2010 LaTulip orginal

Bottom line, Noto says, his team is realistically looking at the July 3 show for their 2010 debut. He says the team is planning on renting the track to get things rolling ahead of time. Once his season gets going, the plan is to run weekly. That had been the initial plan before the season started.

Pending how things spring from the gate, Noto tossed up the idea of putting Jennifer Chesbro behind the wheel of his No. 19 super on one of the two winged shows on King of Wings weekend. The non-wing show in Ohio and perhaps a winged show or two after Oswego’s regular season is over isn’t out of the question for Noto either.

With his dad feeling a bit better as of late, Noto is hoping to carry that positive vibe into the second half of this racing season.

“With him being sick last year, my heart just wasn’t into it,” Noto said. “My father is the backbone of this whole thing.”

Greg Furlong says that though he is very likely to be racing this weekend at Oswego, it is very unlikely that it will be in his own No. 72 supermodified. That ride won’t be ready to roll until the July 3 show. The former multi-time track and International Classic champ says that the chances of it being ready for this coming Saturday’s race is “slim.” at best.

Furlong will be driving his original 2005 Hawk that he and his brother Pat reacquired last year. Like others, Furlong pointed to where supermodified racing currently resides on his list of priorities as to why he hasn’t been racing yet this season. Coupled with a sluggish economy that has hindered he and his brother’s housing business, Furlong says that both he and his brother simply want to spend more time with their families right now.

However, Furlong maintains he’s not headed into retirement. He says he will be running a limited schedule in 2010 and insists he has unfinished business at Oswego.

“I’m not done racing,” Furlong said. “I definitely want to run for another Oswego title down the road.”