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September 23, 2018

KING OF WINGS – IT’S FINALLY HERE !!!


By – JJ Andrews

One of the most anticipated supermodified races – the richest of its kind – is happening this week. Ten grand is the biggest payday offered for winged supers. But that’s only part of it. If you are an awesome supermodified driver, and have the right connections, you have a shot at $40,000 for winning just two races. No, that’s not a misprint. I said FORTY LARGE!

All you have to do is win two fifty lap, ten thousand dollar to win races, and you get an extra $20,000 kick for your troubles. How hard could that be?

Here’s the catch. And it’s a big catch, too. The speedway – and the speedway’s insurance company who are gambling the money – are confident that this can’t be done. Because you have to win one race with a winged super, and another race without a wing on it.

Supermodifieds are awesome vehicles, and are very unique breeds of cars. But the most awesome winged drivers usually are also-rans when they step into cars without wings.  And the most amazing non-winged drivers.. well usually people do a lot of yawning when they jump into winged cars.

The most obvious example: Chris Perley. Perley has dominated the ISMA division for years, but has never won a non-winged supermodified race. Not that he can’t, and not that he isn’t a living legend for being one of the greatest drivers in winged supermodified history. But he has only ran a few races without the “crutch”, and never contended for a win.

So his chances of winning the bonus are iffy at best. But his chance of winning this race? Excellent. Watch him – he’s amazing!

So who’s the best topless supermodified driver this year? I think you’d have to probably say Otto Sitterly. Otto’s running great in the John Nicotra owned Hawk Chassis machine. So how many races has he won flying a kite? Jack squat. They dabble in winged racing from time to time, but I don’t think many people have circled the #7 on their potential list of bonus winners.

We would LOVE to see Bentley Warren win these two races. Bentley is one of the most beloved super drivers of all times, and he was in victory lane at Oswego just a couple years ago in Perley’s backup car, which is owned and fielded by Vic Miller. He could win the winged race again, if he’s in that car or one as competitive. But his unwinged supermodified program this year has been quite unimpressive. That car is sideways, spinning the tires, lifting the left front, and just not fast. Bentley wheels the heck out of it, but let’s face it – you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. He’s going nowhere when the second 10G race comes around. The only hope the legion of Bentley fans has is if he lands a ride in a different car without the wing.

Hey – what if somebody unexpected wins the winged race, but doesn’t have a ride in the unwinged Mr. Supermodified race? Is there a top ride available that someone may be offered to step into? Hmmm…

Bobby Bond has one of those awesome Xtreme Chassis cars that he can’t drive due to a racing injury that kicked the heck out of his brake foot. He’s out of work until at least mid-August, and is a big “maybe” for even Classic. Yes, he wadded the car up recently in an ISMA race. But it wasn’t as bad as it looked initially. In fact, many of the repairs were completed at Paul Colloca’s Xtreme chassis shop last week. I spoke with Bob last Monday, and although the car wasn’t ready to race at that point, there was a chance that it would be soon. But that car was converted to a solid axle machine, which could be loaned out to someone who’s not on injured reserve, under the right circumstances. As of Monday, that wasn’t necessarily the plan, but the option was there if things fell into place. So even if it’s not ready for the King of Wings race, any winged driver that wins this race, and doesn’t have a wingless ride for part two, would be crazy to not get on the horn with Bobby.

By the way, who would or could get in that car? As much as I – and half of the small block supermodified pits – would like to see Bob put his big brother Mike Bond in that car for the weekend, Bob didn’t feel that would be prudent. “As good of a driver as he is”, Bob said, almost admitting for the first time ever that his big brother is a good driver, “you don’t just hop into a winged supermodified and win in it”. I reminded him of a few guys like Ted Christopher, Billy Whittaker, Mikey Ordway Jr., and most recently Trent Stephens who took to winged super racing like a fish to water, but he wasn’t buying into it. (Can you say snot-nosed little brother?) He did offer a wish list of Lou Cicconi or even Doug Heveron who he considered trying to contact if the car was ready, but he wasn’t reaching out to them at this point, since the car was not ready.

Russ Wood and Mike Ordway Jr. and Jeff Holbrook are three prominent winged super drivers that have a home base of less than 10 miles from Oswego Speedway. But curiously, neither of the Holbrook cars are entered. The theory is that since all three cars are entered at a Tuesday night ISMA race at Stafford Speedway, and then a Sunday ISMA race at Cayuga speedway, the $10G race is a little lower priority for the Holbrook team, which concentrates on ISMA. But maybe if everything goes well Tuesday, and somebody asks nicely…..

Another awesome non-winged super is the Xtreme Chassis #3 driven by Doug Didero. Didero is weekly the fastest, or one of the fastest cars at the speedway. But as I and builder Paul Colloca discussed recently, their record without a wing is pretty average. “So far”, was Paul’s reply. If they happen to win this Saturday race, I predict Didero will pull out all of the stops to win the accompanying Mr. Supermodified race. But first he has to win this one…

And yet another amazing winged super driver is “Timmy J”, a.k.a. Tim Jedrzejek. Timmy J runs very well at Oswego in his winged car. Definitely a favorite for this Saturday. But then what? “Hello – is this Bobby Bond?”

I know what you’re waiting for. Who CAN win both ends of this big bonus event? I’ve got some ideas.

Bobby Magner has a lot of kite flying super experience, running the ISMA series for a coupla years as one of Jeff Holbrook’s hired guns. Oh – and he also was the only driver to win three features at Oswego Speedway last year, in the non-winged Double Deuce Racing super.  Is he one of the favorites? In the words of Sarah Palin:, “You Betcha!”

Dave McKnight is also curiously not on the pre-entry list. But I think they’re just being coy. And mysterious. McKnight has been a top winged driver for several years on the ISMA circuit. In 2009, McKnight has been running weekly at Oswego topless. Is unwinged car owner Gary Syrell not planning to strap on a wing for one of the best drivers on both circuits?

What about Ray Graham? He also has a ton of wing experience, jet-setting all over the country the last couple of years at various speedways. Then in 2009, Graham finally joined the exclusive Thousand Dollar Club, which is comprised of only drivers who are cool enough to win a wingless race at Oswego Speedway. He’s got a crazy fast car, which was worked over by the legendary Clyde Booth over the winter. You’ve got to think that Ray Graham has a great shot at greatness – and $40K.

Greg Furlong is one the few drivers that has won races in both topless and wigged supermodifieds. But that was the old days. In the last couple of years, for whatever reason, Greg Furlong has been average at best. In fact, he didn’t even bother running the MSA winged event earlier in the season. They are aware that they aren’t running well, and don’t want to muddy the waters by diluting their resources by strapping on the wing. So even if they do surprise everyone by showing up this weekend (which I doubt), I don’t hold a lot of optimism for them to win part two, without the wing.

So am I forgetting anyone? Let me see… Wood? Covered him. Perley? He was at the beginning. Didero? Yep – coupla paragraphs ago. Oh, Otto. Oh there he is – back at the beginning, too. Bentley? Timmy J? Magner? Holbrook? Stephens? Ordway Jr.? Graham? Check. Guess that’s about it. I’ve covered everyone that I can think of that could double their pleasure by winning both races.

Hmmm…. I wonder if….maybe….well…..

JOEY PAYNE!!! The Jerzey Jet has won several winged races, both in supers and NEMA midgets. He’s got that going for him. Although his current owners Pat and Terry Strong don’t have a ton of experience flying a kite, you can bet that Payne has something up his sleeve to compensate for that inexperience. Like a NEW ENGINE that has been sitting on the shelf for a few weeks now. If there was ever a time to bring out the new Finger Lakes Machine power plant this is it. Imagine if Joey finished 2nd or 3rd with the current car/engine configuration, which is very possible. The team would never stop kicking themselves with the “what ifs” and “if onlys”. “If only we would have had the new engine in the car…”

Then, if he steals the show in the winged portion of the double header, I guarantee that the NEW car, which is almost completed, will be in action for the August edition of the two-part bonus. New car. New engine. Excellent team. Badass driver. Who would you pick?

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