OSWEGO, NY – The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center in Oswego was once again the resplendent site of the annual Oswego Speedway Awards Banquet and Mitchell’s Speedway Press Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday night, November 5.
Special award presentations started the evening off with Mark Kapuscinski, of the Oswego Speedway Safety Crew, receiving the Ed Clark Spirit Award for 2016.
“Uncle” Tony Mancuso, was honored with the Oswego Speedway Recognition Award for his multi-faceted duties — from IT to ticketing to the scoreboard done during the season.
The coveted Lois Matczak Woman of the Year award went to Kim Enders for her years of dedication to her son, Dave Gruel’s, racing efforts, and in addition, to her assistance with brother Pat Abold and nephew Jeff’s racing team and the sport in general.
The Hall of Fame inductions began with driver Tim Gareau who began his asphalt racing career at the Oswego Speedway in the early 1990s becoming one of the original competitors in the Limited Supermodified (SBS) division, where he won six features before moving on to the Supermodified in 1995 where he earned him Rookie of the Year honors.
Tim closed out his last season in 2006 after garnering a track championship (2004), 13 feature wins and 67 top fives.
Wayne Landon of Hastings, Michigan, was inducted to recognize and pay homage to the many drivers and owners who made the 10 hour trek from Michigan to compete at Oswego in the fledgling supermodified division.
He first appeared in 1962, driving the Ehman 27. His lone feature win came in 1966. He is probably best known locally for this association with the Steve Gioia Sr. 9. Landon’s weekly competition ended with the 1971 season. He made a few Classic attempts after that in the Billy Law car, up until 1977. Landon would continue his racing out in the Midwest for a number more years in a sprint car.
Inductees, renowned car builders, Dan Dennie and Ray Hedger were equally honored for their contributions to the SBS division. Dennie also drove his own supermodified for several years before getting into SBS car building. He was instrumental in the building of the “Storm Chassis” and the FFB chassis born in 2002, a collaboration between Dennie and the late Tony White.
FFB chassis have won over 100 features over the years. Dennie has become a legend in the small block community as one of the pioneers of that division.
Ray Hedger, was also honored as one whose racing career spans decades beginning with work on his dad Hugh’s dirt flathead in 1957.
Ray built his first race car, an asphalt modified, in 1975. He spent several years owning and crewing the 33 modified for Dick Clark and then brother Randy.
He was one of the original car builders for the limited supermodified division and the Hedger chassis have accumulated over 100 feature wins to date, plus ten championships.His biggest numbers came with Russ Brown who won 21 features, five championships and three SBS Classics to date.
On the 25th anniversary of the founding of the SBS division, Joe Marotta, who became the voice of the group on its inception, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his 25 years of support of the division.
And last but not least, Norm Patrick of Gater Racing News, which was a major supporter of local auto racing from the time that the paper was founded in 1965 by Dave Wright and incorporated in 1969 by the Patrick family.
Over the years the paper was a huge supporter of Oswego Speedway racing and the association continued until the paper’s closing in 2014. The Gater, although gone, brings back memories on all the pages of papers and yearbooks of the past. The Patricks initiated a pre-season Motorsport Expo which continues today.
Jake’s Automotive SBS Car Owner of the Year began the driver-owner awards with Four Sevens Motorsports owner Denise Merrill Bond receiving the honors in that division.
The Jake’s Automotive Car Owner of the Year was announced as Gary Syrell, owner of the Syrell Racing 68 which was driven to the 2016 championship by Michael Barnes.
The Jake’s Automotive SBS Crew of the Year award went to the Bruce Racing #22 team, while the 2016 Jake’s Automotive Supermodified Crew of the Year title was presented to the Abold Racing team members, many of which who started with the Abold snowmobile racing operation decades ago.
The Turning Stone Favorite Driver, as voted on by the fans, went to Michael Barnes for yet another year.
The Pathfinder SBS top 15 were next to receive their plaques from Pathfinder Bank’s Jim Dowd, listed in order:
Dave Cliff, Mike Bond, Mike Bruce, Jack Patrick, Anthony Losurdo, Camden Proud, Kreig Heroth, Dalton Doyle, Jesse Bearup and Scott Shafer. Cliff, who won his first championship title by a mere 22 points, especially thanked his car owner Tim Barbeau and his crew for all their support.
Kevin Schutt, of Novelis, took a minute to acknowledge that Novelis, in their twelfth season backing the supermodified division is now gotten into providing aluminum for the automotive community.
He also thanked the area fans from another banner year of recycling cans with more than 2 tons of recycled aluminum this year.
More than $78,000 from the recycled can effort over the years has been donated to area charities.
The top 15 Novelis supermodified drivers, in order were Michael Barnes, David Gruel, Otto Sitterly, Michael Muldoon, Jeff Abold, Dave Danzer, Pat Lavery, Kody Graham, Aric Iosue and Brandon Bellinger.
Barnes won his first championship in a two-way late season title race by less than 10 points over his boyhood friend and race compatriot Dave Gruel.
Barnes commented on the podium, “I’ve been coming here since I was 3-4 years old and want to thank the Torreses for improving the track. Congratulations to Dave Cliff and Tim Barbeau on their achievement. I started racing with David Gruel when we were only 6-7 years old. There could be no better guy than to have this battle with than Dave. He’s always been a clean driver. He will be a champion someday, too.”
Barnes continued by thanking the Syrells, the crew, the wives, his finance, the many of owners he has driven for over the years.
A special tribute was made to his dad and mom.
“I couldn’t have done this all these years without my friend and mechanic, my dad,” he said.
Novelis, in a surprise presentation gave car owners Gary, Brenda and Eric Syrell, each a championship jackets.
The night of dining and awards was capped off by the sounds of Millennium Music and Ron Gray.