Sunday, December 16, 2018

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By CAMDEN PROUD

Tomorrow marks the first ever edition of the Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50’s at Oswego Speedway, so it’s the perfect time to rewind over forty years to the last time an official Twin 50 event was contested at Oswego in 1972.

The ‘Twin 50’s were introduced to Oswego fans and teams in 1970 and remained active for 1971 and 1972 before the Triple 33’s, Twin 30’s, and the modern day Twin 35’s took over in years following.

With tomorrow’s Twin 50’s being held as part of the Shampine Memorial, it’s only fitting that Shampine swept the first set of Twin 50’s in speedway history on Memorial Day Weekend of 1970.

‘Stormin’ Norm Mackereth started on the outside pole of the first ever Twin 50 at Oswego and got the jump on polesitter Shampine to lead the first lap.

Shampine didn’t stay far behind as the two swapped leads several times, before the No. 40 of Mackereth retired and coasted into the pits, leaving Shampine virtually uncontested in the first Twin 50 over John Clapham, Kenny Andrews, Warren Coniam, and Mark Letcher in the top five.

The Small Block Supers weren’t there to provide a break in the program in the early 70’s, in fact, the division didn’t arrive for another twenty years, so after a half hour in the pits the Supers returned trackside for their second Twin 50 of the night.

In the second Twin 50 held in May of 1970, Shampine did what Shampine was known to do best.

Al Wood started on the pole and lead early on with Joe Martincic trailing in the No. 53 machine for the first several laps, but neither of those two drivers were there to stay.

Despite starting way back in eighteenth after winning the first twin, Shampine made the field look silly and took the lead by lap 10, dominating the final forty circuits to sweep the night over Andrews in the runner up sot, Coniam in third, John Clapham and the ‘Rutledge Rocket’ in forth, while Wood wound up fifth.

One year later, the Twin 50’s were back again on Memorial Day Weekend of 1971 and it was again Shampine taking the victory in the first twin before being upstaged by Nolan Swift’s ‘10PINS’ in the second main event of the night.

For the first 50-lapper, Shampine started on the pole with Swifty right behind him in third, allowing the two odds on favorites to begin to run away from the field early on with Swift eventually breezing by Shampine just before the halfway point.

A mid-race caution flag flew for a spinning Mackereth and then again for a tangle between Jim Winks, Nolan Johncock, and Harv Lennox, but Swift still pulled away from Shampine on the restarts, at least until he ran into engine trouble on his No. 10.

With Swift heading pitside, this handed the lead back over to the ‘8-Ball’ and eventually gave Shampine the victory over Andrews in second, Mackereth who recovered for third, Lennox in fourth, and Coniam rounding out the top five.

By the second Twin 50 of the night, Swift would see luck turn in his favor.

Coniam jumped out to the early lead in race number two before a fiery crash for Kempton Dates slowed the action in the early stages.

On the restart, Shampine shot out to the lead, but not for long as Swift’s 10PINS was repaired and now far too strong for Jimmy as Nolan mustered the top spot away from Shampine on lap 20 and never looked back.

Swifty went on to win over Shampine, Coniam, Johncock, and Lennox, who filled in the top five.

The final stint for the Twin 50’s took place on Memorial Day Weekend of 1972, but this time it was neither Shampine nor Swift visiting victory lane as Ohio’s Baldy Baker and local favorite Fred Graves would split the two main events.

Baker started on the pole for the first of the final two twins and marched away from the field to a huge lead early on, pretty much ending the race for everyone else just as soon as it got started.

Graves was charging hard and took second, appearing to have something for Graves for a moment before tangling with a lapped car and ending his push for victory.

‘Big Daddy’ Don MacLaren was forced to hold off Shampine for second on the restart and he did so without issue to take the runner up spot ahead of Shampine, Jim Cheney in the Holysnki No. 19, and Bobby Steler in the Solvay Automotive No. 04 who rounded out the top five.

The second and final Twin 50 was a little bit more exciting.

Shampine quickly began his march through the field to take the lead early on with Graves, Cheney, MacLaren, Dates and Baker all battling inside the top five.

It appeared as if runner up Graves would have nothing at all for Shampine in the second twin, but luck was not on Jimmy’s side on that spring night in ‘72 as the ‘8-Ball’ was leaking oil and in turn was black flagged, handing the lead over to Graves.

Freddie, driving the No. 37 roadster, held on to the victory without issue followed by Baker, MacLaren, Cheney, and Dates.

Nearly fifty years have passed since the battles between these hall of fame drivers, but TOMORROW the Twin 50’s return to Oswego.

Action is set to get underway at 4pm with time trials for the Pathfinder Bank SBS and Novelis Supers before Supermodified heat races get underway first followed by SBS heats, the first Twin 50, the Tony White Memorial 35 for SBS, and the second Twin 50 for the Supermodifieds. General admission seating is just $25 and still available for purchase by phoning the speedway box office at (315)-342-0646.

For more information on Oswego Speedway, be sure to visit online at OswegoSpeedway.com. You can also FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.

About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.

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