On opening day at Oswego Speedway, supermodified owner Ray Graham ended up leaving the speedway early, without hitting the track at all. The rumors raced around the speedway faster than a supermodified, and then later on continued all over the internet. “They just threw him out!” “He told ‘em to shove it!” “He’s never coming back!” “He was all ready to race, but he left because tech wouldn’t let him use his helmet!“ Those were just some of the stories that were floated when Ray Graham loaded up his car and left the pits before qualifying even began. None of these are true.
“I have absolutely no issue with tech or the speedway”, said Graham, in a telephone interview from Wisconsin, where he had been attending meetings related to his employment. Continued Graham, “Mike Bozzuto (head tech) was great. He went out of his way to help. I went through two helmets last year, and my new one is still on order. The helmet was the least of the issue. We were up until 3 or 4:00 AM finishing the car, pulled in late, then had issues with the injection. We had Doug Holmes working on that, and missed warm-ups.” In the off season, they made many changes to the car, including the location of the engine, which changes the headers, the foot box, and a bunch of stuff. “You change one thing, you have to move 50 other things”, said Graham. “My feet were hitting the foot box, the throttle, the steering shaft, - the car just wasn’t ready to race.” It was the first time he had sat in the car with his racing shoes, fire suit, etc., and he just plain didn’t fit.
“I’m not going to take a brand new car out and stuff it in the fence, or risk wrecking someone else”, continued Graham. “When we’re 100 percent ready, we’ll race”, said Graham, which he expects will be for the next race at Oswego Speedway, the Shampine Memorial event on May 24th. Issues related to steering, brakes, and throttle are nothing to play around with. “I’m not going to do it half-assed”, Graham bottom-lined.
Ray was going to run for points at Oswego, but is unsure now if he will, because of the points hole that he is in after the opener. “I’m going to support all supermodified racing. Oswego, ISMA, and MSA, as much as I can”, said Graham.
The car is a Hawk Chassis that was previously owned by Eric Torrese, and raced sparingly last year by Davey Hamilton. But they’ve changed a lot of things around. “It’s basically a new car other than the original frame rails”, said Graham. That’s a ton of work, and a lot of things can sneak up on you when it gets down to race day crunch time. I did not get the impression that Ray was mad at anyone a few days later. Not the track, not tech, not his crew, not anyone. Just circumstances. Graham finished up, “Was I mad when I left? Sure I was. I was upset at the situation, not anyone. I just traveled 2,000 miles to race. But I’d like to think that the older I get, I’m getting just a little bit smarter. It was just not meant to be tonight.”
Opening day at Oswego Speedway sure was a rough one for supermodified owners! Even before the competition started, several cars were badly wrecked.
First, Mike Casey took the Strong Racing #47 hard into the 4th turn wall. Casey was knocked out cold, and was shipped immediately to a hospital in Syracuse. He was treated for a concussion, and eventually released. Casey drove himself home to Virginia Sunday night, and was doing well as of Tuesday when I spoke to Larry Lee at the Strong Racing shop. The car is quite badly damaged, as you may imagine. Don’t expect to see that back in action this weekend. Strong Racing would like to thank everyone for their support and concern.
The next day, at pre-race practice prior to the day’s events, all hell broke loose.
Todd Stowell crashed his #89 before he got to even attempt any qualifying. He was done for the day.
Then Otto Sitterly had a hard impact with the wall that did a ton of damage to the John Nicotra owned #7. Otto was uninjured, but told me “I hurt my pride”, when I asked him about injuries. The crew was able to repair the car by feature time though, and Sitterly wheeled it to a 10th place finish.
Next, Craig Rayvals absolutely destroyed his supermodified when his throttle stuck, going down the back stretch. He hit the wall, bounced, flipped, and landed on his wheels (or what was left of them). Rayvals climbed out, seemingly uninjured, but about as angry as I had seen anyone since I ran my father’s Plymouth Valiant into a curb, and didn’t own up to it. (It feels good to get that off my chest!) The car was demolished so bad that I doubt we’ll ever see it again. Thank God Rayvals walked away.
The pushoff laps prior to the feature saw yet another crash, as the #12 (the website says that it was Brandon Fisher, but it apparently was a different driver, whose name I don’t know) piled hard into the turn two wall right after being pushed off. Front end damaged, out for the day.
The topper happened on lap 15 of the feature. Randy Ritskes and Greg Furlong were involved in a horrifying wreck, as the two diced through the lapped car of Matt Palmer. Ritskes pounded the wall hard, but amazingly, both drivers emerged uninjured. And the fire under Ritskes’ Dan Soule owned #32 was the perfect tension breaker, as Furlong’s leap from the car to jaw at Ritskes was doused by his concern for Randy’s safety, as the car flamed up while he was climbing out of it.
Note: despite a lot of blame being pointed at Ritskes for the accident, the grapevine indicates that A. as of Sunday after the race, car owner Danny Soule was NOT angry at Randy for wrecking the car, and considered it a racing accident. And B. several anonymous fans chipped in to a fund to help get the car repaired, with the hopes that Soule can rebuild it and give Ritskes another shot at a future Oswego show.
Strong Racing fields TWO supermodifieds weekly. The #11 is driven by Mike Casey. The #99 was driven for the last several years by Pat Lavery, who left at the end of ‘07 for a ride in the Double Deuce Racing Team supermodified #2.
As a replacement, the Strongs were able to land one of the best ISMA drivers around to fill the empty seat. Joey Payne, “The Jersey Jet", will wheel the potent #99 ride, but is not available for all of the Oswego events. (Payne’s committment is to the NEMA Midget division, where he will he run the full season.) Since the seat will not be filled on a weekly basis by Payne, (Payne is expected to be able to attend six or seven of the Oswego events), the car would be parked for several evenings.
Enter Joe Gosek. Gosek drives an Xtreme Chassis that his team has decided to not “cut up", and change the front end suspension to comply with the new speedway rule book. As that team will only be competing in the MSA / winged shows, Gosek would have some nights off this year. And some of those nights just happen to be the same nights that the Strong Racing #99 would be parked. According to my sources, Gosek will be in the car two or three times.
What a perfect scenario! And what a great opportunity for the Strongs, to have two of the best supermodified drivers to wheel their car. Joey Payne, one of the more talented drivers in the northeat, and past Indy 500 competitor Joe Gosek, arguably one of the most popular and accomplished supermodified drivers in Oswego Speedway history. Sounds like a great deal to me!
It’s going to be an awesome year at Oswego Speedway this year! And it all starts THIS weekend, May 3rd and 4th. The weather looks great for the weekend!
So the Nationwide series race in Mexico was pretty interesting. Kyle Busch continues his dominance of NASCAR this year. I don’t understand how one guy can suddenly have such a huge advantage. Pretty amazing.
But the more interesting story was the whole Boris Said / Marcos Ambrose deal. Ambrose flat out dumped Said, in my opinion. Boris wasn’t happy, and I don’t blame him. It was a lousy deal. Boris has so much on the line, trying to make the best of his few opportunities in this series, and to get dumped like that, when he had a good chance to win the race, wasn’t cool. It was interesting the way Said handled it, threatening Ambrose’ crew chief, and apologizing in advance for the car that he was going to take out in the future.
Then Ambrose had the audacity, during an interview on ESPN’S NASCAR now, to mock Said with a curly wig during a joint interview. Ambrose is probably lucky that it was a satellite interview, because I bet Boris would have pimp-slapped him right on the spot. Maybe the wig thing was meant as an ice-breaker, but I think it came off, at least to me, as a “diss".
So now the groundwork has been laid for the next time these two hit the track. Of course all eyes will be on the two, waiting for the payback. My prediction: paybacks rarely happen. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone threaten to pay someone back, but it didn’t happen, I’d be a wealthy man. Nobody pays back. They cool off. They get warned by management. They let it slide. Boris Said won’t get near Marcos Ambrose at the next race. Even though he deserves it.
WEEKEND FUN -
Chris Lupa and Kreig Heroth have scheduled a huge party to raise funds and help cover racing expenses for their #46 Small Block Supermodifed at Oswego Speedway. The FUNdraiser takes place THIS WEEKEND, on April 26th, at Cheap Seats Sports Bar, in Oswego, N.Y., starting at NOON.
The $8.00 donation will cover a great feast of burgers, dogs, salt potatoes, macaroni salad, etc., as well as drawings, 50/50’s, fun auction, and great entertainment.
This year’s entertainment will be none other than the renowned and controversial J.P. SHAGGY. J.P. sings, plays the guitar, and entertains everyone. Don’t be surprised to see many drivers on stage with him, as he gets everyone involved. His good-natured ribbing from the stage adds to the comedy of his act.
For more information, call Chris Lupa at 315-591-5307. Or show up at CHEAP SEATS at NOON on SATURDAY, APRIL 26TH, and all of your questions will be answered. If you like fun, food, and laughs, this is your party!
But that’s not all - there are TWO great parties this weekend!
Strong Racing Team, Supermodifieds -
-#99 Driver Joey Payne
-#11 Driver Mike Casey
Saturday April 26. 2008 at the Scriba VFW Club - Route #104 East Scriba. 1:00 until ?
Tickets - $8.00 at the door.
Luscious food will feature a buffet, including Pulled Pork, Ziti, salad and other fine selections.
Many great door prizes and some awesome items to be raffled off.
So come out and meet drivers Joey Payne and Mike Casey, who will both be present.
Should be a great weekend!
So we know that Bobby Santos III has landed the ride in the Danny Soule ISMA car. Since he is still in demand by several other teams and divisions, he won’t be able to make all the shows. So I guess that’s why Randy Ritskes may be driving the car for the upcoming winged opener at Oswego. It’s not a definite, and it could change, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Randy compete again at Oswego, in a top shelf ride, after all the excitement he brought to the speedway last year. He’d be tough to bet against, for sure.
If you were a guessing man (or woman), who would you pick for the supermodified championship at Oswego Speedway this year?
And will it be a Hawk Chassis, an Xtreme Chassis, or something else?
When I break it down, it sure looks like a Hawk will be the only type of chassis that has a shot at the points title this year. Not because they’re better (I certainly wouldn’t get into that argument!), but there aren’t any Xtreme Chassis that I know of that will run the entire season. I miss Bobby Bond and Joe Gosek already, and the season hasn‘t even started. (Bond and Gosek are the drivers of the two Xtreme Chassis cars that got the bum’s rush when independent front suspension was flushed out of the pocket.)
Pat Lavery and Bobby Magner will be sporting supers for the potent Double Deuce Racing Team. This team almost won the championship last year with driver Michael Barnes, who defected to the ISMA circuit with Clyde Booth. Will one of the DD Hawks close the deal this year?
Will Tim Snyder put a championship season together, and run for the numbers come season’s end? The veteran pilot is consistently consistent behind the wheel, and should bounce back from a bad luck filled ‘07 season.
You can’t argue with the talent and resources of the Otto Sitterly driven, John Nicotra owned team. We’ve all seen Otto pull off some pretty amazing moves. There will be two cars ready for this team, the second one to be driven on occasion by Davey Hamilton. There’s only one guy that can beat Otto.
But how do you not pick Greg Furlong for the championship? The #72 is one of the best prepared cars in recent memory at the speedway. And whether you like him or hate his attitude, you can’t deny that Greg is one of the better drivers of all times. And he always has the best, most current Joey Hawksby technology at his disposal, usually before anyone else gets it. Can you deny that he’s the favorite?
Who’d I leave out? Gioia III? Bob Reis? Craig Rayvals? Shawn Muldoon? Jason Spaulding? Keith Gilliam? You can’t pick Joey Payne or Dave Shullick Jr. or Rob Summers or Ray Graham, because they’re not running a full season.
Okay, smart guy. You tell me. Who do YOU think will be the supermodified champion this year? And why do you think that? Please click on the “leave a comment” area below, and log your pick. Or dispute mine. Or tell me who I forgot.
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As a driver/owner in the Limited Supermodified division, JJ Andrews covers mostly Oswego Speedway events, from a driver's point of view.