By Bill Foley, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO – This year’s edition of Super Dirt Week will look significantly different for dirt race fans while for Oswego Speedway their facility will have a new makeover.
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It is less than 80 days to the beginning of Super Dirt Week and the process is well under way.
Sitting down with World Racing Group Director of Events Jeff Hachmann at the site of this year’s event, he explained how SDW got to where it is.
“I think we can keep the enthusiasm that we have. We all know that there will never be another Mile and our job is to come as close to that, 80, 90 or 95% and if we do our jobs well it can be 100%.”
The announcement of Super Dirt Week’s new site came late last week.
However, the planning has been going on for quite some time.
Hachmann said, “When they told us they were tearing down the grandstand at the State Fairgrounds, Tom Deery and I drove around and looked at facilities that were capable of handling this type of event. We went all over Central New York to hone in on options. Oswego Speedway was one of those options. You have to remember that Super Dirt Week is beyond racing. The need for infrastructure is as important as the racetrack.”
When asked about possible Plans C or D, he explained, “There were different options. In fact we had multiple facilities showing interest and wanted it, but not all were capable of what we needed.”
Oswego Speedway was the eventual choice as the goal was always “to keep Super Dirt Week in Central New York.”
In the WRG agreement with the State of New York there was the guarantee to keep the race in Central New York and Hachmann noted, “We have been dealing directly with the state.”
In regards to the advantages of having this event at the Oswego Speedway, Hachmann explained, “Oswego has a storied history, its size is beneficial and we are able to keep the event in Central New York.”
There are always concerns, but Hachmann was extremely positive in regards to this project.
He did note that after 44 years at Syracuse that the fans will be faced with a change, that timing could be better and then there were the unknowns.
Hachmann said, “At Syracuse we have done it for so long we were prepared for the curve balls that might come our way and could hit them. We don’t know what those might be at Oswego.”
The WRG team has been mapping out the layout for this year’s edition of SDW and their will be plenty of camping available.
Taking a look at the camping he said, “There will be 121 electrical sites located in the black lot at the corner of Albany Street and City Line Road. There will be another 90 sites in the orange lot just off City Line Road and overall 750 camp sites which would be 25×50 in size. This might fluctuate down to 580-600 by the time we are finished planning.”
He explained there would be on site parking with 400 premium reserve and 200 handicapped spots in front of the speedway north of Albany Street.
He explained, “There will be off-site parking and we will shuttle fans in.”
Meanwhile, the question of pits was mentioned and he noted, “Teams will pit off the backstretch and we have an area for about 320 cars and haulers with spots of 10×80 or 10×60.”
As far as getting on and off the race track the current plan is to use the gate in the third turn, but there could be an adjustment with something being down with an exit from the speedway from another area.
While parking and camping are concerns for fans the major item to put on Super Dirt Week is the racetrack itself.
“In novice terms,” began Hachmann, “Wood chips will be put down to keep moisture and then 12-15 inches of clay will go down. We will water, roll and till the track just like a gardener would. There will be 600 loads of clay going down.”
Gary Risch from Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania and Larry Fink (who does many tracks including Volusia County Speedway in Florida) will be the lead team involved in the preparation of the first dirt race at Oswego since 1952 when the speedway opened.
It is expected that the foam that goes around the outside wall at Oswego will not be utilized by the WRG in preparation for this year’s event.
The Oswego Speedway hubrail is also very unique in racing in that cars are confined between two fixed barriers.
According to Oswego Speedway Public Relations Director Dan Kapuscinski, “They are placing an inner concrete gravity block barrier around the inside of the track. It will be placed about three feet outside of the hubrail in order to leave the drainage area open.”
The safety crew from WRG that has worked SDW for decades led by Tony McIntyre and Andy Burke will be blended with the Paul Conzone led Oswego team to as what Hachmann said, “Will create an all star safety team.”
In discussing the races Hachmann said, “The big blocks will run 300 laps, the 358s will run 150, the sportsmen 75 and the pro stocks 50.”
In regards to the big block show he explained, “Our goal was to keep the race close to what it was before” and the WRG team is still in the process of determining the final format.
Oswego’s backstretch is a concern by fans as a portion of the grandstand is in dire need of rehabilitation.
Hachmann said, “The State of New York knows we needed assistance in putting clay on the track, camp grounds and the back grandstand.”
Last week in Oswego Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated the state was ready to assist Oswego Speedway in those renovations to make this event possible.
Planning is well under way for this year’s edition of Super Dirt Week at the Oswego Speedway.
It is a monumental task, but Hachmann feels that they have the personnel on staff and in place to keep Super Dirt Week not only alive, but healthy.