By Bill Foley, Dirt Track Digest
OSWEGO – In one of the more unique “ribbon cutting” ceremonies, two huge dump trucks today (Sept. 20) poured tons of clay on the front stretch of the Oswego Speedway.
Oswego Speedway Public Relations Director Dan Kapuscinski was the master of ceremonies for the event which brought together Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, track owner John Torrese, World Racing Group leader Brian Carter, drivers and others.
Go here to view Kapuscinski’s photos of Oswego Speedway’s transformation: https://www.facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway/photos/a.1038980679533788.1073741920.186371861461345/1038981232867066/?type=3&theater
Kapuscinski, who was the top rookie in last year’s Syracuse Sportsmen championship event is excited over the prospects of this event.
“This work is giving Oswego a makeover unlike nothing we have seen before,” he said.
Even though the clay hadn’t been placed on the front stretch until today’s official “dumping of the clay,” the remainder of the track had its first layers of the new surface laid down recently; while outside the track work continues on new camping areas.
The Steel Palace is in a state of transformation.
And, for folks who have been there for decades, this is a shocking change.
When fans walk in on the Wednesday of Super Dirt Week 45, they will experience Oswego like they have never experienced it before.
Kapuscinski expressed thanks to all of the partners involved including NAPA, Pole Position Raceway, Eagle Beverage, Riccelli and Gypsum familes for all they have done.
The 45th Super DIRT Week is taking place at a facility that hasn’t seen a non-asphalt surface since 1952.
CEO Carter thanked all of the entities that have been involved in making this event become a reality at Oswego.
He credited the progress to the local partnerships that Oswego track owner John Torrese has brought to the table.
Carter also thanked the State of New York for its tremendous support.
“We knew that after Syracuse that there had to be a different path to keep Super Dirt Week in Central New York. Without the assistance and support from New York State this would not have been possible,” Carter said.
The WRG CEO disclosed, “We were just able to confirm that Super Dirt Week will have five hours of national television through Speed Sport News and MavTV. Two hours will be on Thanksgiving evening thus giving us a national stage.”
Track owner Torrese said, “Thank you for Oswego County, the World Racing Group, the city of Oswego and our fans for following us. This work being done at the speedway will benefit Oswego for years.”
Mayor Barlow was very enthusiastic over the Super DIRT Week festivities.
He said, “I personally have to thank Governor Cuomo for helping us host Super Dirt Week. I am glad it worked out the way it did and that we are able to host. Racing is part of the community fabric of Oswego. I also have to recognize the support of Empire State Development in welcoming dirt racing to the Oswego Speedway.”
Drivers Peter Brittan, Larry Wight and Max McLaughlin along with Oswego legend Otto Sitterly and former driver Mike “Magic Shoes” McLaughlin were all interviewed trackside by Kapuscinski.
Brittan noted, “This will be interesting. Teams have all kinds of log books on tracks we have run for a long time. Everything changes here and one of the big blindsides will be new drivers. We will have to see what tire compound is the fastest and what kind of set up to run.”
Wight, who is currently driving dump trucks with loads of clay around the track, is looking forward to the challenge.
He said, “With 300 laps the distance really doesn’t change. The layout will be the curve ball. Oswego is more condensed than Syracuse. However, the tour drivers run a different track every week and with six to eight laps of hot laps we should get an idea of what to do.”
With a smile he added, ”I hope the event remains at Oswego as it is just 20 minutes from our house.”
Sitterly had thousands of laps around the Oswego Speedway in his Supermodified. However, that won’t make any difference.
Looking toward his first Super Dirt Series Weekend (in a Troyer), he said, “Dirt changes everything. I have laps on this track, but that will be of no advantage to me. Getting in the show would be a win for us. I’ve watched the tour races the past couple of weeks and these guys are professionals.”
Big Block rookie Max McLaughlin is in uncharted territory.
“This is my first Super Dirt Week and I never got to Syracuse. Racing at Oswego is awesome. This year has been a big learning curve for me and this is the toughest competition I have ever run against,” he said.
His dad, Mike McLaughlin, has won at Oswego in a Supermodified and Modified. “I am not sure I can help Max with this place,” he said. “But I did tell him of the few places that I have hit the wall hard here.”
The dumping of the clay marked the official kick off for the media for this year’s Super DIRT Week. The track is progressing and dirt racing will actually return to the Steel Palace in early October.
Super Dirt Week will be held Oct. 5 – 9.
(Steve Yablonski contributed to this report.)