OSWEGO, NY – As the field of Novelis Supermodifieds continues to grow at Oswego Speedway, a number of new or returning faces are making their way into the division. One of those drivers competing for Rookie of the Year status is the driver of the Locke Crane Services No. 37, Jeff Locke.
“It’s a dream coming true, I always wanted to run at Oswego Speedway,” Locke said as he works on his supermodified readying for Opening Day 2013. “Looking at the schedule, I should think about getting an apartment in Oswego,” he laughed. “We’re looking at running a full schedule at Oswego, add in the 4 ISMA shows, and it looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time in Oswego this summer,” Jeff summarized.
Locke is a 34-year old crane operator for the family business, Locke Crane Services. Wife Misty, and sons Ryan (9), and Chase (7) are the founding members of the Jeff Locke Fan Club.
During the off-season last year, Locke made headlines in the Central New York area as he purchased a top shelf supermodified.
“John Nicotra came to Thompson, and he told me he was looking to sell a car. It was a great opportunity for me. It was a proven, winning car, and if I am going to do something, I’m going to do it right. It was something I couldn’t pass up. With that good of a car, I could go to the track and be competitive quickly. The learning curve would be cut dramatically.”
Locke tossed his name and team into the Oswego Speedway Rookie of the Year class of 2013.
But, Locke is no typical rookie. He comes to the lakeside oval with a loaded resume. The last three seasons, Jeff has finished in the top six in ISMA points, and visited Victory Lane once to date. In 2010, he finished every lap in every race, quite an accomplishment in its own right.
Last season, Jeff and Team 37 traveled to Oswego on a pair of occasions. He picks up the story from, there.
“Classic, we were competitive,” Jeff reflected. “We were running well, but we ran out of fuel. It was our own fault, we had a new motor and didn’t have the time for a fuel mileage run. We ran well, were competitive, and fell back, but we ran strong. We came back after that, and ran well again. We got up to third, then got a flat tire. Both races we ran at Oswego, we were quick, and were happy with how the car performed. We’re looking forward to this year. Oswego really is a cool place! I can’t explain the feeling going around that place. You really have to stay in your toes.”
Locke isnt one of the guys that has just seen the view from the driver’s seat. He has quite a history on the crew side of things.
“I moved to North Carolina right out of high school in 1999,” he mentioned. “Richie Letendre, from Eddie Sheas team, got me a job down there. I worked my way up, all the way to car chief for Greg Biffle. My dad started Locke Crane Service, and that was becoming a very successful venture. We had our first son, and it was tough being gone so much. With life in racing down south, your always on the road, testing, wind tunnels, races, always working, never home. It was difficult. We had our second son, and it was time to make a change. Locke Crane Services was pretty well established, and it was time to move back home.”
The racing bug was always with Jeff, and he moved from working on cars, to driving them.
“We bought a Graves Chassis, and ran the 350 class at Lee for two years. I was passing a guy on the outside one night, he had a problem and we wrecked, but I ended up outside the track, with a totaled race car. We could either rebuilt it, or get new. We thought about it, and figured it was time to move up to supers. It was time to build and move up, and we had a car then built by Butch Valley and Brian Allegresso,” he said.
“We’re having a ball, and being pretty respectful of others out on the track,” Jeff added. “We want to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but mainly gain the respect of the drivers out on the track. You have to earn it by racing them, being clean and building and earning their respect.”
Work is going on in the Locke garage, as he would like to be prepared to practice both the Oswego and ISMA cars before actual race conditions.
“Work is busy, we can’t take a lot of time off from that. Oswego is about a 6 ½-hour one way trip, which is a lot easier than the 14-hour Michigan trip, or 12 from Sandusky or Canada trips, even though I would like to try Sandusky’s Hy-Miler. If things go ok, we can load up, and head home after the races, and be home for a good part of Sunday. We’ll see how it goes at Oswego. We’ll take it week by week. I love Oswego. My dad brought me there in diapers, and I’ve been going there ever since. I rooted for guys like Bentley and Joe Gosek, and now I’m racing with them. That’s pretty cool.”
Locke Crane Services, New England Motor Racing Supply, Glenn Shanks Motor Oil Company, and Shawmut Equipment help fray expenses for the New Hampshire driver. Brian Allegresso, and dad Kenny Locke will be turning wrenches and helping Jeff along the way.
Opening Day 2013 is getting closer by the day, and Locke is one that cant wait for the gates of the Steel Palace to swing open. He looks to be spending a lot of time on Albany Street on Saturday nights in the summer, adding another heavy hitter to the powerhouse supermodified lineup. He is a top driver, and has a winning car under him.
He will realize a lifelong dream of running Oswego Speedway this summer, but don’t look for him to just log laps. Locke is a winner, and looks for a very successful 2013 season at Oswego Speedway.
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