OSWEGO, NY – With the sound of heavy metal thunder revving up in the background, Romey Caruso unveiled a road sign memorializing father and uncles, Harry, George and Bill Caruso.
The trio, founders of the iconic Oswego Speedway, was honored Saturday afternoon across the street from the iconic Oswego Speedway.
The stretch of East Albany Street will now be known as Caruso Brothers Boulevard in their honor.
The resolution to recognize the Caruso brothers’ accomplishments was brought before the Oswego Common Council by Sixth Ward Councilor Ron Tesoriero on June 11 and was unanimously passed.
Oswegonian Robert Metcalf spearheaded the campaign.
“On behalf of the city, I just want to say that it is an honor for me to be able to participate in this dedication,” Mayor Billy Barlow told the crowd of more than five dozen at the northwest corner of Albany and Shampine Drive. “Over the years, the Caruso family hasn’t just contributed to Oswego through the Oswego Speedway. As the owners and operators of Northern Steel Corp., Oswego Sheet Metal Works, Speedway Restaurant, Wine Creek Inn and HG&W Realty Corp, they provided hundreds, if not thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in local commerce during their lifetime. This is a well-deserved tribute to the tireless efforts of Harry, George and Bill Caruso.”
The speedway was like a second home to kids back in the day, Councilor Tesoriero said.
“We grew up here. Every Saturday night, this was our entertainment. We loved it,” he said. “It’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
He is still active at the track, working with Joe Gosek’s race team.
Romey Caruso thanked all the city representatives and community volunteers who made the dedication possible.
The three Caruso brothers were a team, “straight from the old country,” he said. “They were taught early on that to be a success you had to roll up your sleeves and work hard.”
They had a passion for auto racing, but little success as car owners. So, they decided to become track owners.
The Caruso brothers built Oswego Speedway from an old horse track and opened the famed oval in August 1951 as a 1/3-mile dirt track. It was paved the following year and expanded to its present 5/8-mile course in 1961.
They put in eight hours at their regular jobs and then went to work on “their hobby” after that. It was sun up to sun down on weekends along with a few life-long dedicated friends, he added.
Much of the original infrastructure is still intact today, he pointed out.
“In short, they took pride in every aspect of their creation,” he said.
On race night, each brother had their own duty. Harry oversaw the entire operation; Bill was the chief safety inspector in the pit area and his father’s domain was the concession stand, he said.
One long-time racing journalist cited the speedway’s hot dogs as “the best tasting on the planet!”
On one side of the sign is the Caruso brothers. On the other side, three classic Classics are featured. The first Classic was run in 1957 and was a huge success bringing Oswego Speedway to international prominence in the racing world.
The dedication took a year and a half to come to fruition, Metcalf said.
He recalled when he was about 10, racing gigs. He walked into Northern Steel and a man in a suit and a fedora helped him buy materials for his first racer.
“I bought my stuff from Harry for about six years until I moved away from Oswego,” he said. “So now, years later, that 10-year-old petitioned the city for Harry and his brothers to be remembered with their own street. The moral of the story is be nice to the children, you never know who might give you your own street.”
Romey Caruso said, “My father and uncles would be humbled by this honor. But they weren’t much for accolades. It was their passion for auto racing, particularly for supermodified racing, that drove them to make Oswego Speedway a success. And, I’m sure that they would be the first to share their legacy with the dedicated employees, drivers, owners, crew members, volunteers and race fans, all of whom I believe just wanted to be part of this special fraternity.”