OSWEGO, NY – Like many young Oswego natives, AJ Bernys dreamed of one day being a big league racer at Oswego Speedway.
After years of quarter midget and kart racing experience, Bernys made the move up to the big track in 2010 behind the wheel of the Byrne Dairy No. 24, and in time the Oswego High School student and his Bernys Racing team have become one of the top ‘Young Guns’ in the Speedway’s Pathfinder Bank SBS division.
“My first season was mainly just getting used to the car and seeing how everything felt,” said Bernys. “It was a big adjustment going from the small cars to the big cars. By our second year we were starting to get more competitive and started working our way towards the front. It has always been our goal to do well, shooting for top five and top three finishes. I really just like to push myself to see how far we can go.”
The team’s goal of top five and top three finishes reached its pinnacle in 2012 in only Bernys’ third year behind the wheel.
After passing fellow small car graduate Dalton Doyle, Bernys managed to hold off another former kart racer in Tim Barbeau to pull into victory lane as the champion of the second biggest race the SBS division has to offer, the $1,500 to win Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS.
“That was a real big one to win,” said Bernys. “Winning at Oswego Speedway means a lot to me, and I still can’t even really come up with how great that feeling actually was to win that race.”
The victory in the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS event capped Bernys’ best season to date which saw him finish 10th in the overall point standings with three total top five finishes and three qualifying heat wins.
“It was a real good season for us,” said Bernys. “The beginning of the year didn’t start out all that good, but the second half of the year was really great. I just really want to go back at it this season and drive the car a little harder than I have and really push it.”
Bernys has proved in a short period of time that the experience gained in the smaller leagues of racing, such as quarter midgets and go-karts, can go a long way when it comes to making the step toward the fast 5/8 mile Oswego Speedway.
Joining Bernys as small car graduates are other top flight SBS competitors Doyle, Josh Kerr, Anthony Losurdo, and David LaTulip among others. The Novelis Supermodified division has even seen its share of current graduates including Dan Connors Jr., Dave Gruel and Michael Barnes.
“Your general racing etiquette and how to drive the car is essentially the same between the small and big cars,” said Bernys, who competed at the Oswego County Quarter Midget Club as well as at the Oswego Kartway. “While the move up is an adjustment, the two different cars drive pretty much the same with the obvious differences in weight. The big cars roll a lot further into the turns, but for the most part there isn’t that big of a difference.”
Not only has Bernys used his early racing experience to try and gain an advantage at Oswego, but he also is a skilled online racer with several platforms including IRacing.
“I am in an IRacing league and we race three times a week,” said Bernys, who set the fastest time in the Oswego Speedway Supermodified simulators at the Gater Racing News Expo in March. “IRacing is really the closest thing you can do without actually getting into the car. It makes training for real racing pretty good, and I have been in a few situations on the track where I feel the IRacing experience has helped me.”
Although Bernys has already pulled into Oswego’s victory lane, he and his team still continue to grow and develop. Part of that team development has been an increase in marketing partners associated with their FFB No. 24 machine.
Joining as new sponsors in 2013 will be Franco’s Pizza and Avery’s Oak Hill Tavern.
Franco’s Pizza, located at 21 W. Bridge St. in Oswego, is considered one of the best New York style pizzerias in Oswego. Franco’s is well known for their garlic knots and calzones and offers free delivery by calling (315) 343-9999. Stop in to Franco’s Pizza and tell them Bernys Racing sent you.
Avery’s Oak Hill Tavern is located on the corner of East Eighth and Albany streets in Oswego. Manager Brian Wills welcomes customers to his friendly establishment with a full line of adult beverages and offers customers a look back at the ‘old days.’
Both Franco’s Pizza and Avery’s Oak Hill Tavern look forward to being a part of Bernys Racing in 2013.
Returning partners to the Bernys Racing effort this coming season include Byrne Dairy, JP Jewelers, Ashley Lynn Winery, Chris Nelson Insurance, Cutro’s Professional Inspections, and Leon’s Farm Market.
For more information on Oswego Speedway, visit www.oswegospeedway.com, follow on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway, or like on Facebook at facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.
For more information on AJ Bernys you can follow him on Twitter @bernys24 as well as on the team’s new website www.BernysRacing.com.