By ED & BETTY BIITTIG
It was Friday night and we were not at Albany Saratoga. We are glad that we spent the better part of the past season at the Malta oval because the racing and the track provided some great events. Already looking forward to next season.
Looking to Super DIRT Week and our second visit to Oswego Speedway, we look back to last year when everything that could be done was done by the people working on the track surface. Last year heavy rains delayed some of the preparation of the temporary dirt surface. Reports we have heard say that the first layer of clay this year has hardened and the second layer is being completed. We look forward to some great racing.
It’s hard to believe that in 12 days we will return to the Oswego oval and this will be Super DIRT Week 46. The Modified portion of the week will take place on Sunday, October 8th. This prestigious race has had 22 different winners. The most winning driver in the past 45 events is Brett Hearn with six wins in three different decades. Second on the list is Stewart Friesen with five wins all within the last seven years. Billy Decker and Gary Balough both have four victories. Alan Johnson comes in with three wins, six drivers have had two wins, they are Vic Coffey, Danny Johnson, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Horton, Buzzie Reutimann, and Merv Treichler. Eleven drivers have one win each, Kenny Brighbill, Frank Cozze, Tim Fuller, Doug Hoffman, Bob McCreadie, Billy Osmun, Matt Sheppard, Kenny Tremont, Dick Tobias, Richard Tobias, Jr., and Billy Dunn. This event has been won from the pole on seven occasions. We also looked at the starting top 20 starting spots and wins and found that the race has never been won from 9th, 13th, 15th, or 20th.
We know some folks have been to every one of the 45 previous Super Dirt Week events. The very first event was scheduled for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 29, 30 and October 1, 1972. Friday was to be inspection day and warmups, with Saturday set for time trials and two 20-lap consolation races and on Sunday the only event scheduled was the Schaefer 100. This whole event was the brain child of D.I.R.T. founder, Glen Donnelly. As we have seen so many times in the past 45 years, the first year was no different than so many other years, the weather can be an issue. Central New York can bring some tough weather in October along with some great weather, we’ve seen it all, from snow to sunny weather in the 80’s. On the first day of the first event over 100 cars went through the inspection line and went on to practice. On Saturday rain stopped all activities moving qualifying to Sunday morning. The fastest 45 cars were to start the event. The pole sitter was Kenny Brightbill from Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania, second spot went to Jerry Cook from Rome, N.Y. When the 100 laps were complete, the first winner was Buzzie Reutimann of Zephyrhills, Florida who started in 10th position. Nearly 15,000 people came to the New York State Fairgrounds to see the start of a 44-year tradition at that location.
The second running of this event was set for the last three days in September, 1973 with a few changes. Friday was set for registration/inspection and time trials to qualify for the first three rows, Saturday was time trials for the next 24 spots in the field and a consolation. Sunday brought a 25-car non-qualifier’s race and the Schaefer International 100. Defending champion, Buzzie Reutimann had to use a guaranteed starting spot from a qualifying event that happened during the year. Reutimann started in the 35th spot and took the lead on lap 67. Tommy Corellis of Lebanon Valley fame led the first 35 laps but had nothing for the hard charging Floridian who went on to claim his second victory in the event. Attendance increased to nearly 18,000 fans who gathered once again at the famous fairgrounds. The N.Y.S. fairgrounds was steeped in racing history that extended over a 100 year period until local and N. Y. S. officials made the decision to demolish the mile oval and grandstands putting an end to auto racing at the historic venue.
With the addition of the 358 Mods on Sunday at Glen Ridge, there were faces seen that are not normally in attendance, Bobby Varin, J.R. Heffner, Elmo Reckner, Eric Nelson, Shaun Pangman, Demitrious Drellos, Mike Maresca, Bob Vedder and Bobby Hackel, III.
We’ve alway heard that hard work and dedication pays off. In the last two weeks we’ve had the opportunity to witness that at the local level of racing. The Palmer Race Team out of Howes Cave, N. Y. has been on a march claiming victories at Albany Saratoga on Friday, September 15th, then on to Fonda that following Saturday night, next it was back to Fonda this past Friday, September 22 to win the King of Dirt, 358 Modified Series event. This past Saturday the team with driver, Bobby Varin at the wheel once again stood in victory lane at the Track of Champions taking the trophy and win in the 100-lap Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series event. The win for Varin was his second Super DIRTcar win in 22 years at the track. His first coming on August 16, 1995. In talking with Alton at The Ridge on Sunday he said that Saturday’s win at Fonda was won in the pits. When other racers were having flat tires the No. 76 still had tread at the end of the race. He said he can work with Bobby, he is willing to try changes without complaining. People have said that Alton and Bobby bring out the best in each other. Whatever they are doing right now, is working.
Robbie Albreda was sitting in the Limited Sportsman car of Chris Curtis at Glen Ridge looking to get some seat time. Robbie’s only experience so far has been in a Sling Shot. He has spent much time around racing on the Bachetti crew for 10 years. He raced one mechanic’s race at I-88 in the Bachetti car and those who saw him commented the he was impressive. On Sunday he looked good in his heat at The Ridge and in the feature he finished second to Bill August. We have known the Albreda family for a long time and we are happy to see Robbie move into a different place in our sport.
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