A recently announced 602 Crate Dirt Sportsman event on August 31st at Oswego Speedway has turned into a conflict in central New York, when Brewerton Speedway also announced an event for the same division, on the same night. “This is, and isn‘t, a defensive move”, said Brewerton Speedway representative Cory Reed. “This is kind of our built division- something we’ve built. Why would we want to hand something we’ve built, to someone else?”, added Reed. But that’s not why this race was scheduled, said Reed, “we had this show kind of already planned. This wasn’t a reaction, we just hadn’t announced it yet.”
Oswego Speedway’s Eric Torrese confirms that the show will go on, and is excited about putting the dirt sportsman drivers in front of a new audience. Said Torrese “Oswego Speedway’s Classic Weekend is one of the biggest race weekends in the northeast, and this race could be excellent exposure for the sportsman division. If people see them and like them, they’ll go looking for them where they race weekly.”
After the Xtreme Sprints, a traveling division of winged sprints that were scheduled for that night at Oswego Speedway pulled out, speedway management went looking for a high quality event to replace them. After seeing the sportsman a few weeks earlier at Brewerton Speedway, the Torreses were so impressed that they asked one of the drivers, Jeremy Pitcher, to come to the track for a test. When the test went well, track management made sure that there weren’t any sportsman events scheduled nearby for that night, and after it was determined that this was a “night off” for the division, the date was set. It was announced on August 7th, with a healthy purse of $7,300. Brewerton’s announcement came on August 12th. “If they were running any place else that night, we wouldn’t have scheduled them at all”, said Torrese.
“We will probably run them 8-10 times next year”, said Reed, and wanted to see what kind of a turnout that they could get for a weekly show, with a regular purse, of “probably $500-600 to win”. Reed confirmed that as of press time that this is NOT a points race of any kind, and drivers are welcome to run either race. “Go try it - we’re not going to hold it against you”, he said, feeling that most of their guys want to run dirt. Reed hopes that there are enough cars that run both events, and wishes Oswego Speedway and their event the best. But added, “don’t cannibalize our class because you don’t have a class. We don‘t want to have our cars wrecked or blown up before our Saturday (September 1st at Fulton Speedway) show.”
“Short track racing is a struggle right now, and we’re not looking for a conflict. I hope fans will support short track racing at any track, not just ours”, said Torrese. “I look at this event as supporting short track racing - not as competition.” For years supermodifieds raced annually on the dirt track during Super Dirt Week in Syracuse, and it wasn’t looked upon as dirt tracks trying to steal pavement drivers, or pavement tracks trying to steal dirt drivers. “This was a one race deal”, confirmed Torrese.
As an attendee of both tracks, I see this as a loss for many fans and competitors. I thoroughly enjoy the sportsman division, and look forward to the next time I get to see them at Brewerton Speedway, where they put on such a great show last month. But as an Oswego Speedway fan, I’m disappointed that I won’t get to see as many as I expected to see at Oswego, where I will be that night.
This has the potential to be a historic event, and I’m excited for the drivers that will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at the historic oval, where such legendary modified names as Evans, Shampine, Bouchard, Bodine, Spencer, Sacks, and Troyer had competed. The fact that drivers will not have to decide about missing points, or be concerned that their “regular” speedway will be mad at them, will bring some of them to Oswego. While the field will be splintered, there are still a lot of cars out there, and both tracks should have an excellent show.
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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.