OSWEGO, NY – As Oswego Speedway’s 64th consecutive season of racing sits on the horizon, Oswego High School Buccaneer teenagers Anthony Losurdo and Camden Proud prepare to continue the youth movement at the ‘Steel Palace.’
It’s not often adult’s think of high school teenagers racing on a 5/8 mile Speedway at 120mph, lined with steel retaining walls. However, in the last 15 years it has become common place in the Port City.
Speedway racers like Tim Barbeau, Dave Cliff, Ryan Coleman, Dan Connors Jr., Dave Danzer, and AJ Bernys are just a few of the many drivers since the year 2000 that spent their school days on Oswego High School’s Buccaneer Boulevard, then cut it loose at Oswego Speedway on weekends.
Losurdo and Proud now add their names to the list, as they compete in the Pathfinder Bank SBS series in 2014.
Losurdo, 16, a graduate of quarter midget and go-kart racing will actually be moving into his second full year of competition at Oswego this season, after finishing second in the Rookie of the Year battle in 2013 behind experienced open-wheel racer Jeremy Pitcher.
With four Top10 finishes on the season, including a tremendous second place finish in the annual Race of Champions, Losurdo adapted quickly at the age of 15 but said it wasn’t without some certain growing pains.
“To be honest with you I started out the season so scared, I barely wanted to race,” said Losurdo, a member of Oswego High School’s heralded WBUC television channel. “It was such a different atmosphere coming from the little cars (quarter midgets) and kids my age, to actual sized cars and older men that have been doing it for years. We had a bad accident early in the season, but we were able to recover from it. Before long I started to gain the confidence I needed to compete, and the biggest boost was that second place we picked up in the Race of Champions.”
From that point Losurdo increased dramatically, becoming a weekly threat for Top10 finishes driving his No. 1 machine.
Losurdo, or “Hawk” as he has come to be known through his years of racing, says that Top10 finishes aren’t all it takes, respect must be earned in all aspects when competing at the level the Speedway demands every Saturday night in the summer.
“Being so young definitely makes it interesting, just knowing that some racers may try and take it for granted,” said Losurdo. “The biggest thing I have learned is to treat the other racers how you want to be treated. I feel like I have gained a lot of respect from the veterans because of that.”
Proud joins Losurdo as quarter midget graduates that got their start behind the wheel at a very early age. Like Losurdo, Proud will enter his rookie season at Oswego at the age of 15.
The son of former Speedway racer Tim Proud, and nephew of current shoe Chris Proud, young Camden will in no way lack tutoring, and has already turned laps on the Speedway’s racing surface in a Small Block Super, built by his father, just last year.
“Taking my first laps on the track last year was definitely very special,” said Proud. “Running at Oswego has always been something I have wanted to do since watching my dad race a Supermodified. Being able to race at Oswego now, in a racecar built by my dad, is awesome.”
Although he has not seen any racing action at the Speedway just yet, several hot laps in 2013 have given Proud a good basis to build on for this year’s Rookie of the Year battle.
“Obviously there is a big difference in speed and power between an SBS and a quarter midget,” said Proud. “That, as well as learning where to let off the throttle, took a few sessions to get used to. As far as handling, it was just like driving a big quarter midget. The car was very stable and felt great.”
Proud hopes to emulate the season put in by Losurdo in 2013 by gaining experience, respect, and hopefully solid results.
“Our main goal is to be at the race track every week to compete for Rookie of the Year,” said Proud. “To do that, you have to be able to roll the car on the trailer each week. So, I just want to respect my equipment and keep it in the best shape possible, hopefully getting a good result out of each race we compete in.”
The Speedway’s tie between auto racing and Oswego High School continues to flourish, and has even strengthened after Speedway officials began to allow youth spectators aged 16 and under into the Speedway for free in 2011.
Losurdo says a good number of his school mates admire the fact that he is competing in an adult sport, at such a young age.
“There are quite a few students who go to the races and have also purchased Hawk Racing T-shirts to help support our race team,” said Losurdo. “We also have two fellow 11th grade students on our team, Steve Larkin and Zach Mills. Most everyone thinks it’s pretty cool that I race such big cars at such a young age.”
Proud echoes Losurdo’s thoughts and said his upcoming season at the Speedway has even garnered attention from the school’s newspaper, the Buc Bulletin.
“It’s definitely pretty cool to still be in high school and have this incredible opportunity to get to drive at Oswego Speedway on Saturday nights,” said Proud. “I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t talk about racing with my friends, so pretty much everyone knows about it; especially after I had the chance to do an article with the Buc Bulletin earlier this month.”
Opening day at Oswego Speedway is set for May 3, featuring the mighty ISMA Supermodifieds and the Pathfiner Bank SBS division. Both Losurdo and Proud will be in action ready to kick off another summer of fun at the ‘Steel Palace’ for all to enjoy.
For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit www.oswegospeedway.com. You can also LIKE the (Official) Oswego Speedway page on facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway. To purchase tickets or to order merchandise please call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.