OSWEGO, NY – As the countdown continues toward the 59th running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway on September 6, we look back at the next historic Classic driver on our list – two-time Classic champion, Doug Didero.
In a Classic driving career that dates back to 1985, Didero established himself as a Classic threat very early in his career, but did not manage to find victory lane until teaming with Skip Matczak.
After becoming only the second driver in Speedway history to win three consecutive track titles from 1994-1996, the only thing remaining on both Didero and Matczak’s resume was a Classic victory, and the 1996 edition of the race would be their finest hour.
Didero’s top competition in ’96 came from two sets of teams cars.
Mike Muldoon’s mounts driven by himself and Indy Car star Davey Hamilton as well as the Team Dunigan rides of Russ Wood and Mike Ordway.
Hamilton took the lead early on from Didero, who started the event from pole position in the red No. 3. At halfway Hamilton led Didero, Muldoon, Pat Abold, Danny Soule, Wood and Ordway.
A caution at lap 104 saw Hamilton, Didero, and Abold make stops, with none losing laps in the process.
Soule would emerge the race leader after the caution but soon the Dunigan machine of Wood would charge on taking the lead at lap 136 only to see Soule regain the point at lap 143.
While Soule led the field – Didero, Hamilton, Abold, and Muldoon were working their way back through the field following their pit stops.
Didero eventually worked his way back into the top five around lap 140 and later found the rear bumper of Wood in second.
Feeling the pressure from Didero behind, Wood took the lead back from Soule at lap 164 with Didero following him through.
After several laps of pressure on Wood, Didero finally found the opening he needed to complete lap 184. The Matczak/Didero No. 3 was now the leader and nothing would turn them back.
The final crown jewel on their list was now complete as Didero and Matczak were Classic champions.
The following year, Didero returned to the Classic, this time driving the No. 4 for Matczak, placing the machine on the Classic pole position.
But unfortunately a second consecutive Classic win was not in the cards, as Didero ran into fuel pickup issues while leading with only seven laps to go.
The 1998 Classic was most notably known as Bentley Warren’s sixth and final Classic victory, but yet again Didero was on his game driving the old Matczak No. 4 machine now owned by Bill Kovacs, coming home with a third place finish behind Hamilton.
After that podium run in ’98 it took Didero several years to find another Classic top ten, which would eventually come in 2005 driving for Gary Syrell.
Winning a main event earlier in the season, Didero timed ninth quick in the ’05 200 and went on to finish as the runner-up to Greg Furlong.
The next season, Didero debuted a brand new Xtreme chassis at the Classic with Paul Colloca, bringing the car to the track for the first time during Friday night time trials. Didero managed to put the car in the field on night one and once in the Classic charged through the pack on several occasions, to eventually battle Furlong for the race lead.
However, at lap 175 a broken bolt in the car’s driveline sidelined Didero, who appeared poised to challenge Furlong for victory.
In 2007 Didero started the Classic from the pole once again, this time driving for Clyde Booth, but a 14th place finish did nothing to satisfy Didero’s craving for another Classic victory.
The 2008 Classic marked yet another debut run for a new Xtreme chassis, with Didero at the controls. Arriving late, Didero had to qualify the car in second day time trials, starting 15th, despite turning the fastest lap of the weekend at 16.514 seconds.
In ironic fashion Didero was driving the last car to be built for that year’s Classic, he was the last car to enter, the last car to take his initial time trial run, and was even the last car to roll onto the starting grid.
But, he was the first car in the running order at lap 165 when he took the lead from Dave McKnight, and was never again challenged enroute to his second career Classic victory in ’08.
In 2009 Didero returned with the same ride yet again, this time finishing second to Otto Sitterly, who picked up his first career Classic victory.
That run was Didero’s final top ten Classic effort to date, with his career record showing two victories and an amazing ten top five runs in the International Classic.
Didero is one of just 12 drivers with multiple Classic crowns.
For more information on Oswego Speedway and Budweiser International Classic Weekend visit online at www.oswegospeedway.com or call (315) 342-0646.