All systems are “go” for this week’s scheduled “Mitchell’s Speedway Press and Parts Plus Memorial Night”. While facility improvements continue, everything will be ready for the Jim Shampine Memorial 75 lap event, the Tony White Memorial 35 lap event, the RoC Richie Evans Memorial 75 lap event, and the 2010 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
While spring weather and forecasts can be difficult in Oswego, N.Y., speedway officials are committed to getting this show in, if at all possible. “If it doesn’t work Saturday, we want to do it on Sunday”, said speedway co-owner Eric Torrese. Early weather reports look positive, but an alternative plan has already been put into action, just in case. A rain date of Sunday, May 29th has been announced, starting time TBA.
“We are fully committed to do what it takes to get this race in weather-wise”, said Torrese. Oswego Speedway is known for having one of the best track crews in the country, with years of experience preparing an excellent surface in the event of inclement weather. Also, since Oswego Speedway has one of the few covered grandstands in the area, there will be plenty of dry places to wait out any temporary rain delay with your friends and family.
The “Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame” inductees will also be recognized on opening day. The “Class of 2010” induction ceremony will take place after the conclusion of the heat races, at the infield podium with announcer Roy Sova. The five members of the 2010 Mitchell’s Speedway Press “Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame” are: Jamie Moore, Tony Osetek, Norris McDonald, Bruce Lee, and Jim Liccardi.
Also, The Eagles Fan Club at Oswego Speedway will present the prestigious Tony White and Jim Shampine Memorial Awards in front of the grandstands.
The historic opening day, the first race under the management of John and Eric Torrese. Memorial Day Weekend events call for a 75 lap supermodified feature, a 35 lap small block supermodified feature, and a 75 lap Race of Champions Modified feature. Adult admission is just $25 for the three star event, and as always in 2011 (except Classic Weekend), anyone age 17 and under is admitted FREE! Races start at 3:00, and grandstands open at noon.
Oswego Speedway has announced their point fund for 2011. Unlike years past, drivers will know when they hit the track on opening day, exactly how much point fund cash they can expect. So a MINIMUM point fund has been announced. Which means that the drivers may expect more than what is posted at the end of the season, depending on contributions through other efforts. 50/50 sales, foam block sponsorships, and other additions may contribute to the guaranteed amount.
From the speedway, in a letter that was sent to competitors: “Thanks to one of our new sponsors, John and Wendy Brush of Corr/Pak Merchandising and all of our loyal returning sponsors, we are able to post this guaranteed 2011 point fund. In 2011, the Oswego Speedway Commitment Program has increased substantially, which of course will increase our weekly payout to both the Supermodified and Small Block Supermodified divisions. In 2010, Oswego Speedway paid out over $16,000 above the posted purses. We know this payout number will increase but we are hoping the increased car count and fan count will more than offset this.”
“We felt it was important in 2011 to post a minimum guaranteed Point Fund so everyone knows exactly what they are competing for. If you have any questions on any issues, do not hesitate to call the Oswego Speedway office.”
The small block champion in 2011 will earn a minimum of $2,000, 2nd is $1,200, and 3rd is $1,000. The top ten positions will be paid this year, with 10th place even earning $300.
Other information that was announced in the letter from the speedway involved track rentals, and even a “Fast Friday Track Rental”, where drivers can practice from 4:30 to 8:30 for a $200 fee. A minimum of six participants will be required to open on “Fast Friday”. Track rentals will also be available on other days for the same rate as in the past, which is $1,500 for four hours.
It was also announced that Mike Silliman would be in charge of distributing tires for both the small block supermodified and supermodified teams in 2011. In addition to race day, Mike will also be available two nights a week for the distribution of tires.
Also, I spoke with Eric Torrese regarding another a program that will contribute to the safety of the drivers. The Torreses have purchased many thousand dollars worth of new foam blocks to line the walls with, to “cushion” the damage in the event of an accident. Foam blocks have been responsible over the years for preventing THOUSANDS of dollars worth of damage, and countless injuries to the drivers.
It’s obvious to me that safety is a very important issue to the new owners, and this huge investment proves it.
“We’re starting a foam block sponsorship program, where for $225, someone can purchase a foam block”, Torrese told me. Team owners, fans, drivers, organizations, even advertisers are invited to purchase a block - $200 of which pays for the block, and $25 goes toward the point fund.
With the purchase of your own block, you are allowed to write your own message, favorite driver, good luck wish, happy birthday announcement, or whatever, on the block. “Anything tasteful”, Torrese reminded. (Note to Jimmy Collocca: unfortunately, your desired message of “Anybody but Furlong” will not be allowed.)
I am personally still very encouraged and excited by the prospect - and ambition - of the new owners. They are very well aware that this isn’t intended as a money-maker for them. More a labor of love.
“It’s going to take all of us - it’s a community effort”, Eric Torrese told me. “It’s not just us - but if we all work together, we can do it”, he said, speaking about the prospect of bringing the speedway back to national prominence.
Bonus - more good news:
Defending Classic AND King of Wings champion Bobby Bond has just signed up for the Oswego Speedway commitment program for 2011! Bond turned into a winged supermodified racer several years ago after a dispute with track management about rules, when his new independent front suspension car was banned soon after he got it.
But as time wore on, it became apparent that Bond was more disappointed about the way he was treated, than the rule. And his return to the track now that there is new management proves that.
It was ridiculous that Bond, who lives about 7 miles from Oswego Speedway, and grew up going there EVERY WEEK, would hit the road to travel with ISMA, sometimes contrary to the wishes of his crew. But history will show that Bobby Bond is a man of principal.
Which is another way of saying …STUBBORN.
Add yet another QUALITY supermodified team to weekly competition in 2011!!! Definite championship contender. Welcome back, Bubsy!
Attention small block supermodified rookies:
PAID open practice - this Saturday. At Thunder Alley Speedway. Pays around a minimum of $200, less your fuel expenses and $20 pit pass. In addition to warm-ups, you will also have 56 laps of racing at speed, during competition. Practice passing cars, or learn the “groove” by watching other cars ahead of you. Whatever your comfort level dictates. Progress at your own speed. Or “push the envelope”. It’s all up to you. You can lay low, and watch and learn, or you can mix it up. You’re in charge.
No, Thunder Alley is not the same type of speedway as Oswego. But racing there provides INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE in driving a small block supermodified, which will be a huge help in racing at Oswego Speedway. Learn car control, learn about your car, get practice working on or experimenting with setup and chassis changes. Build confidence, because chances are, a top ten could happen if you stay out of trouble.
I’ll explain the “56 laps”. In addition to an 8 lap qualifying heat and a 20 lap feature for the small block supermodifieds, small block supermodified competitors are also invited to compete in the “open wheel” division. So another 8 lap heat and 20 lap feature adds up to 56 laps of high speed, green flag racing. And everyone in the world knows that seat time is the ONLY way to learn how to drive one of these vehicles.
Ask A.J. Bernys. A.J. ran only a couple of times in 2010. But by the end of the night at Evans Mills he had caught the attention of everyone in the division - for positive reasons. By the end of the night he was passing cars on the outside, and drove from last place to 2nd in the open wheel feature. I don’t know how he drives that good with all of that hair in his eyes, but it seems to be working. Think that experience could come in handy when he gets to Oswego?
Ask Mikey Bruce. Sure, he was rookie of the year at Oswego last year. But don’t you think his victory in the open wheel division will give him a ton of confidence heading into the Oswego season? Of COURSE it will.
Rookies like Nate Sitterly in the old 06 car. Will Hadcock in the 43. Dave LaTulip in the 3rd Chris Tedd car. Are you guys serious about racing? Are you willing to put forth every effort to be successful? Get to Thunder Alley. You’ll be MUCH more prepared to take that first green flag at Oswego on May 28th. Take advantage of this golden opportunity. And get paid to do it. Each feature pays around $100 for last, times two features.
I’m not only calling out rookies. This shoutout also applies to guys that need more track time. Maybe you have a new car, or a new ride. Maybe you only have a season or two under your belt, or not even a full season. Dennis Rupert. Fred Kilian. Brad Haynes. Chris Tedd. Brian Osetek. Even Cameron Rowe could use some time getting familiar with his new ride. Take these bonus laps.
Head north this Saturday, May 7th. And again on Saturday, May 21st.Have the experience of FOUR MORE features under your belt before you hit the big track. The extra experience will help you immensely. Trust me on this one.
“Sorry it took so long. It’s over. Let’s go racing!”
That’s how the meeting was opened, by new speedway co-owner Eric Torrese. Tonight’s meeting finally confirms that the speedway sale has been completed, and it’s now time to move forward.
The meeting was moderated by race director Chuck Handley, who shared some information, then opened up the floor for questioning. John and Eric Torrese made themselves available for any and all questions from the overflow crowd. The brothers seemed enthusiastic and easy to speak to, and left a lot of optimism to the fans, owners, and drivers who were in attendance.
“Every week, you’ll see more changes”, said Eric Torrese when asked about what changes or improvements are upcoming at the speedway. While no specific improvements were indicated, there has been enough talk to prove that the Torreses will leave an excellent mark on this facility.
The first turn of wheels at the track will take place on Saturday, May 14th, for an open practice. A rain date of May 21st will be for open practice day. Track rentals will also be available. The speedway will sell the tires and fuel, and the supermodified tire rule will be the same as in 2010.
The originally scheduled May 7th ISMA date which was postponed hasn’t been rescheduled yet, but speedway officials will be working with ISMA officials to find another date.
Not much discussion was held at the meeting regarding tech for the new season, but “the rules will be the rules”, said John Torrese. No personnel changes have been announced, but Torrese stated that they “are not looking to make any changes”.
Probably the only negative that came out of the meeting was the subject of the still unpaid point fund from 2010. Team owners have still not been paid by the now previous owners, and it’s still a very sore subject for a few owners.
“My cars will stay parked if I don’t get my point fund from 2010”, said two car small block supermodified owner Tom Aaserud. Aaserud’s two cars finished 4th and 5th in owner points in 2010, with 3 wins, and are a very professional, well-run team. The loss of these two cars would leave a big hole in the division. Aaserud is adamant that he feels that the 2010 point fund should have been part of the closing. “It’s not the money, it’s a matter of principal. I will absolutely park those two cars if I‘m not paid.” And he’s not the only one that feels that way.
“We’re going to move forward - that will be handled by 2010 people”, said Chuck Handley when asked about the point fund by Tom Aaserud. Handley was referring to the outgoing owners, Gioia and Furlong, who have been mum since the end of 2010 about the point fund. But the statement that it will be “handled” leads me to believe that some funds may be forthcoming. “But remember, $16,000 of last year’s point fund was added to the purse money”, cautioned Handley. Handley is referring to commitment program funds that apparently came out of the point fund. I’m not sure that drivers were aware of that fact. I expect that more information and explanation will follow soon.
“We do have a commitment to the point fund for 2011”, said Eric Torrese. It was announced that drivers would be notified of exactly what the point fund would be, prior to the start of the season. Sounds to me like the guesswork is in the past.
In my opinion, the Torreses aren’t to be held responsible for the point fund of the previous owners. And I’m saying that as a car owner who should have point fund money coming from 2010.
All in all, I thought that the meeting was a huge success. The Torrese Brothers appear to be committed and approachable, and I could tell that there is a lot more good stuff to come. “We have a great staff, and we’ve got more coming”, said John Torrese later in the evening.
The two owners stuck around for an extended period of time after the meeting to spend time with anyone who wanted to visit. “I’ve got time for any of you”, said John Torrese during the meeting. “Anybody has concerns, get with me.”
Oswego Speedway Owners and Drivers Meeting on Tuesday!
Could this be it? Finally THE announcement? On Tuesday, April 26th, this meeting will take place at Lighthouse Lanes at 7:30. There are not a lot more details available at this time, as I’m sure this announcement is better saved for a group of people, than one at a time, or on a website somewhere.
In my opinion, this announcement likely will mean only one thing - that the sale of the Oswego Speedway from Steve Gioia and Pat Furlong to John and Eric Torrese has closed. Since the meeting is being held by John Torrese, I‘m willing to jump to this conclusion.
More news tomorrow!
According to sources, the closing was scheduled for 10:30AM today. All signs point to the fact that the deal WAS completed, and I’m sure tonight’s meeting will end a lot of the speculation. TV stations have already been on the scene today working on “the story".
A crew of workers have already done a ton of repairs, including a lot of work to the bathrooms in the rear grandstands. Word is that the first turn restrooms will be rehabbed or replaced prior to opening day. Work is cranking up!
And for those of you who can’t attend the meeting, it will be broadcast LIVE online at Wingsideup.com. The following is a release from Wingsideup:
“Join us tonight LIVE at 7:00 pm from Lighthouse Lanes Bowling Center as we bring you the Oswego Speedway owners/drivers organizational meeting and signing party. The party is open to the public and you are invited to be a part of it, but if you can’t make it down you can enjoy it LIVE with interviews, comments and questions right here on Wing Side Up! Plus YOU can join the conversation by joining the other supermodified fans, friends, freaks and fanatics in The Wailroom brought to you by Wingsideup!
What an exciting day!
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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.