It’s widely known how wide open a feature race in the former PathFinder Bank Limited Supermodified, now SBS Racing Series, actually is. In any given feature, any one of half the starting field has a legitimate shot at taking the checkered flag. Any class in racing would enjoy those odds. The 2006 season at Oswego Speedway proved that the SBS division is diverse, as eight different drivers visited victory lane.
Opening day gave us a quick preview of what was to follow, as newly named rookie of the year Josh LaRochelle, showed everyone the fast way around. Josh swept the afternoon, as he led all 25 laps of the feature race, as well as picking up the heat race win earlier in the day. Mark Regan gave chase, but could never seriously challenge LaRochelle for the win. Defending champion Russ Brown began his title defense with a third place run with Tim Barbeau and Cameron Rowe on the tail of the #13.
Week two started out with Chris Proud, Rob Pullen and Russ Brown taking heat race wins. As Brown was getting Victory Lane photos taken, dark heavy clouds over turn two showed that we were in for trouble soon. Within a few minutes, rain began to cover the speedway, and racing was postponed for the first time in 2006. Next up was the Tony White Memorial 35. This was one of the most sought after checkered flags of the year, as all the drivers in the pit area would like to win this one for their fallen friend. Chris Proud, coming off a sub par opening day, raced his way to the front quickly from his outside second row starting spot. Dave Danzer took the early lead, but Proud came to the point on lap 8 and turned in some of the fastest laps of the early season as he raced away from the pack. Russ brown cleared early race traffic and reeled in Proud. Brown waited for Proud to slip up, but that mistake never came, and Proud came away with his first win of the year. Brown and Regan swapped spots from opening day, with LaRochelle and Lou Levea fourth and fifth.
It was becoming quickly evident that to win in the limited supermodified class in 2006, you had to get to the front first and hold off the field the rest of the way. Mike Barnes started in row two, and parlayed that starting spot into a lead early in the 25 lap race Barnes took the lead on lap two and had a freight train behind looking to get by. Barnes thwarted off the Deuce of Rob Pullen, and came away with the popular win in the Solazzo #25. Pullen came away with his best finish of the year with a second, and had Barbeau, Kevin Knopp and Mike Bond behind in the top five. That win made it two for two for Barnes, as he picked up the NORA win at Spencer the Friday night before.
On the night where the limited supermodifieds ran their 200th feature, there was a new face in victory lane once again. Brian Sobus fulfilled a dream the last weekend in June as he earned his first ever Oswego Speedway feature win. Sobus had been close to the checkered on numerous occasions, and on June 24, sealed the deal. After winning his heat race, he started the 25 lap main from the outside pole. He took the lead at the start of the race, and never gave it up as he every lap en route to the victory. Dave Gruel was the first to break traffic, and race up Sobus’ bumper and try his way by. Gruel tried high and low and gave it a try on numerous restarts, but Sobus used all his experience to keep the #79 at the point. When the checkered flag came out, Sobus became the 59th different feature winner in the Limited Supermodified class. Gruel, Proud, Pullen and Brown all came away once again with finishes in the top five.
There are always fireworks on July 4th weekend, and 2006 was no different. Lou LeVea made it five winners in five races. It was a very satisfying win for LeVea, as it was his first in his brand new machine. Lap 14 of the 35 lapper, LeVea placed his #96 in the lead as he cruised by Doug Reaume. Once up front, LeVea pulled away with ease as he turned in some torrid laps with his home built creation. Jack Patrick had a great run in the #9 Dodge as he challenged, but couldn’t pull off the lead. Jack held on for a second place run, with Mike Bond in third. Tim Barbeau continued his solid season with another top five run in fourth, with Mike Barnes once again visiting the top five.
Dave Gruel kept the streak going, as he made it six winners in six weeks on July 8, as he raced his #18 to victory lane in the 25 lap feature. The week before, Gruel’s 18 was the fastest car on the track as he worked his way from the back to a ninth place finish. This week, he came from row 4, and became the driver the furthest back to start at this point of the year to pick up the win. Alan Barker took the lead in the early stages, and looked strong in his car #60. Gruel worked his way to second place, and got a good jump on a restart to take the lead by Barker. Barker’s fine run ended shortly after the pass, as he ended up in the third turn wall. Chris Proud and Brian Sobus came on to challenge Gruel, but neither could catch the high flying 18. Gruel cruised through for his first win of 2006. Brown and Bond continued their consistent 2006 years with fourth and fifth place finishes respectively.
It took all the way until July 15 for the first repeat winner to come in the Limited Supermodified class. Just as he became the first winner of the year, Josh LaRochelle became the first repeat winner in 2006. With a backdrop of Old Timers Day at Oswego Speedway, one of the up and coming young guns showed he is one of the top shoes in the Limited Supermodified series. Josh took the lead early in the race, but had to go back behind as a multiple car wreck stopped the action. After the restart, LaRochelle took the lead on lap six and began his march to the checkered. The #10 built a big lead, with Russ Brown behind. Brown couldn’t get much closer to the high flying teenager than 10 lengths. With LaRochelle ahead, the battle for second between the #13 and #18 was the battle on the track. Josh drove away with the win, with Brown holding on for second, Gruel third, with LeVea and Regan back in fourth and fifth. At this point of the year, Brown was clinging to less than a 50 point lead in the standings, looking to become a back to back champion.
Just as he followed LaRochelle in victory lane early in the year, Chris Proud again followed Josh as becoming back to back winners. Proud came away with his second win of the season just one race after the #10 did. The #3 was the fastest machine at the track all night and translated that into a clean sweep, winning his heat race and completely dominating the feature race. Proud took the lead early in the race, and was never seriously challenged all race long. With the #3 comfortably in front, Mike Bond and Josh LaRochelle broke through traffic and tried to catch the leader. It wasn’t in the cards, as the Proud car was the class of the field on this early August night. Proud drove away for yet another impressive win, with Bond and LaRochelle rounding out the top three. Jay Andrews had his best run of the year in the 93 with an impressive run in fourth, with Rob Pullen filling in the top five. LaRochelle’s top three run, along with a top ten by Brown, saw the point lead cut to just about 25 points with a month left in the point race.
Tim Barbeau basically grew up at Oswego Speedway. He’s seen the speedway from every angle. He started out a fan, worked his way onto a crew, and after years of wrenching, moved over to the drivers seat in the Limited Supermodified. Tim saw a childhood dream come true ion August 12, as he picked up an Oswego Speedway feature win, as he led all 25 laps of the feature event. Just a couple of weeks previous, he had his heart broken as he led the majority of the feature, only to have his breaks fail with the 50 ending up in the fourth turn wall. Everything came together this race night, as he wheeled the car up front all race long and picked up the popular win. Tim grabbed the lead at the start, and quickly went out to a comfortable margin. With the first 17 laps of the race green flag, Barbeau raced away from Doug Reaume and Mark Regan. Late race restarts saw Barbeau have to work harder than he wanted, as Reaume was also looking for his first win. This was Barbeau’s night of redemption though as he saved the best for the end, as he charged away in the closing laps. He cruised under the checkered flag for a night he will never forget, his first Oswego Speedway feature win. Reaume had a nice run in the runner up spot, with Regan staying in third, with Brown and Proud putting their 13 and 3 machines in the top five as well. Brown’s point lead with just a couple of races left was now 40 markers ahead of LaRochelle and Gruel.
The point championship changed a lot on a night there was no racing. August 19 was to be the next to last point night of the year, but rain forced the cancellation of the races. This left only Championship night as the only point race left in 2006. The previous week postponed Mr. Limited Supermodified race was the last regular race of 2006, which doubled as championship night, the last night points were awarded this year. This race would prove to be a battle royale, as we once again had a driver looking for his first win race against a driver looking to pad an already impressive resume. Jack Patrick has had many impressive runs in his Dodge #9, and has been knocking on the door to Victory Lane for a few years now. Russ Brown was the point leader, and defending speedway champ. Patrick led the early part of the feature, and anticipation was high as the #9 looked to be on the way for his initial win. Brown came up and raced hard with the Patrick 9, and this race would be decided between the two. Contact was made near the end of the race, with Brown working his way by and Patrick falling back on the last lap. It was an exciting wheel to wheel race right down to the checkered flag. Brown clinched the 2006 title, his third, with his first of the season, saving his best run for the end of the year. Patrick was disappointed with his second place run, with Lou LeVea, Dave Gruel and Alan Barker rounding out the top five.
2007 is just ahead and there are many new things coming for this division. The name has changed from the PathFinder Bank Limited Supermodifieds to the SBS (Small Block Supers) Racing Series. While the name has changed, the competition level has not as any one of half the field will be in contention for the win as the field takes the green flag for their 16th season.