While the first green flag of the Oswego Speedway season is still more than two months away, the offices up on Albany St. have been buzzing since ageless legend Bentley Warren took the checkered flag in the 2006 season closer. Even though the 2006 season was a success, owners Steve Gioia Jr. and Pat Furlong are committed to keep the positive momentum going, looking to add to their success since taking over the keys to the speedway just four years ago.
Many changes have been put into effect for the upcoming season, looking to keep one of the greatest weekly short track racing programs among the elite in racing. While Oswego Speedway truly is the "Home of the Supermodifieds", and hosts one of the most competitive support divisions around with the SBS Racing Series, it will play host to no less than 7 other divisions of open wheeled machines in 2007. The Race of Champion asphalt modifieds return for five shows, including the tradition rich Race of Champions. Big and small block DIRT modifieds, NEMA midgets, Ford Focus midgets, ISMA and MSA supermodifieds are all included in Oswego Speedway’s summer agenda. One of the highlights of the summer looks to be the PRA Big Car show on Friday, August 10.
"It really is a diverse schedule," Race Director Chuck Handley said recently. "Oswego Speedway really is the Home of the Supers. We are the only track in the country that will run all three divisions of the supers, non-winged, ISMA and MSA."
"The SBS Racing Series just keeps expanding," Handley said. "This division will have more cars this year, and last year was big. They keep taking off and are a great group of guys to work with. The PRA show is a big one for us. That will be a really special Friday night. The modifieds are popular here, and they like running Oswego. It should be a really fun summer at Oswego Speedway."
Handley then explained a little more about the MSA-Oswego wings shows. "We knew we had to do something," he said. "We had to get together and do something. We knew we had to run at least 2 or 3 shows. Supermodifieds need to band together and work together. It makes no sense for us both not to have full fields. If we could work together, we could help each other for the support of the division. We are going with a gear rule, and running the same type of wing as ISMA and MSA."
"They will be MSA sanctioned shows at Oswego," Chuck included. "Oswego drivers will get show up points, and MSA will get race points. The purse will be in the $18,000 range, with $500 to start. We are expecting 30-35 cars to come in for the shows. We have commitments from MSA drivers to show up at Oswego, and Oswego drivers to show up at Sandusky in September."
In addition to the MSA-Oswego winged shows, ISMA returns once again to the Big O. "We had to have ISMA back," Handley mentioned. "If you are a supermodified fan, Oswego Speedway is the place to be."
Off the track, organizational changes were put into place to streamline communications between the pit side of the speedway, and the race officials. "This is a really positive step forward," Chuck mentioned. Pat Strong and Bob Hoefer will represent the supers, while Eddie Horne and Tom Aaserud are the SBS contacts. These four will collect information and be the point men with any issues brought up during the year. "This will be a more organized way to get things accomplished. It’s their voice to us, and us to them. Instead of 24 guys trying to make a point, now 4 guys will. It’s a great way to open up more communications."
Another new aspect of the 2007 race season at Oswego Speedway, is the addition of a "Commitment Program". Twenty car owners have signed up for the program. "There was no entry fee," Chuck explained. "We calculated what the cost of two (rear) tires and fuel was for a night, and we came up with $425. That is a guaranteed minimum payout for any of the 20 teams that signed contracts. This is for all of the un-winged races, MSA and ISMA races do not count. The teams are allowed one miss. Accidents and repairs had to be taken into consideration. If any of the teams miss more than one race, they will only forfeit bonus money."
"These teams are guaranteed a starting spot each feature," Chuck added. "If a team has a problem in their heat race, they know they can take their time, fix it and run the feature. If we get 26-27 cars, we are going to start everybody. If we get more cars, say 30, we’ll address that if/when it happens. Heat races will be for points, as everybody will make the feature." Alliance Bank and Burke’s Home Center’s are main sponsors of this new program.
The race program itself will have a bit of a twist in it in 2007. "We are shortening the program," Handley said. "We are going to run straight through. Starting time will be 6:30pm. We moved the start time back as we received feedback about people not wanting to give up their entire Saturday. We’re looking for a 3-3 ½ hour show, and have the checkered flag fall and be done with the night at 9:30-10pm."
While we still have a couple of months before we go green flag racing, all the steps are being taken to make sure things are hitting on all cylinders when the gates swing open for the 2007 race season at the "Home of the Supermodifieds" - Oswego Speedway.