Makin’ Tracks – SDW Day One – Final Mile & Thunder – DTD Exclusive


Well, it’s here and Day 1 of the last edition of Super Dirt Week as we know it has commenced.

Nearly 140 cars from four divisions lined up on the asphalt on the north end of the Fairgrounds to go through tech on Tuesday and many more are anticipated for Day 2.

The talk centered around the retro paint schemes , but for the most part tech seemed to be pretty routine. I had to leave early for Utica-Rome, but was told that the front end of Jeff Hoetzler caused that team a delay in tech line and Dave Blaney’s mount also was being checked over and I never heard the final results.

However, the retro jobs will bring back some memories for the more mature race fans. Pat Ward has the 42p retro, but also a salute to his late dad while Matt Sheppard is running his dad’s Stu 999. Jimmy Phelps certainly won’t be easy to figure out for his regular fans as the Troyer Mud Buss #6 has returned to the Moody Mile. It is certainly a beauty and drew plenty of attention while on display in the tech line. Love the way some of the teams are remembering the past.  Billy Decker’s is a bit of a throwback while Justin Haers has the #1. Haers dad Gerald had teamed up with Billy Taylor (who had drivers like Geoff Bodine in his cars) and this is a recreation of their car. Many fans will recall the late Doug Hoffman in the colors. Larry Wight brings back memories of Roger Phelps with his car. The Barcomb-Bellinger 11 is back again and is another car that brings back memories to race fans.

This week could be redemption for a few top teams. Pat Ward was running solidly at the Outlaw 200 at Fulton, but with a lap to go his water pump came off. Pat said, “In all my years of racing that has never happened to me before.”

Pat has been racing 42 years this year and the 42p is numbered and lettered for his dad. He said, “Maybe it’s an omen”.

Matt Sheppard was another driver who figured in the Fulton 200, but noted, “It simply wasn’t handling and there was no traction. The track wasn’t really any different. I just couldn’t get traction.”

However, he too, is glad to salute his dad with the paint job (okay so its vinyl). He noted he was thrilled to carry his dad’s number to Syracuse.

The Doctor Danny Johnson was working on the 27j as the crew was lettering it from scratch. Asked if it was a new car the Doctor said, “Some old, some new”. He too had bad luck last weekend as he said, “A wheel came off. The way wheels are on cars today is a lot different than it use to be and the nut came off.”

Alan Johnson was standing behind the Halmar double stacker. I asked him how this ride came about and he said, “I didn’t even know them and they called up.” He is excited as he noted, “It is all new equipment and working with Gary (Balough) is something new. I wasn’t doing anything for Syracuse.” He will also be running one of the team cars in the satellite small block shows. Originally the plan was to use one of the engines and put it in his own car, but there wasn’t time so the team simply brought along one of their small blocks.” Alan also had a tough weekend at Fulton as mechanical woes put his own ride on the sidelines and he had hopped in Mario Clair’s car for the 200 with a provisional as past winner.

There is a lot of “wow” factors with the new looks of many of the cars in line. In fact someone jokingly said, “This should be a show car thing as they are just too good looking to race on the mile.”

The Sears boys were in line as Tom Sears Jr. indicated he skipped Fulton to be ready for the Fairgrounds as his owner really wants him at Syracuse. Tom also noted if all goes well then the World Finals are in line. His car owner Jerry Fay, owner of Mullen’s Industrial Handling wants to run these shows and Tom is more than happy to do so.

Tim Sears Jr. is ready as his dad was in line with the car. Tim Sr. still a bit irritated by a call that sent Timmer to the back in the Fulton 200. It was thought he made contact with a spinning Vic Coffey, but Senior noted that Vic spun and stopped at the starters tower to explain that, but the starter didn’t come down.

It took hours to go through the tech line, but the officials were doing what they do and making sure safety and technical requirements were being met. As of mid-afternoon it had been pretty routine.

Sportsman have come out in droves as many drivers simply want to run one race at the Moody Mile.

John Behron ran Mod-Lites at Brewerton and has some seat time in a sportsman and he said, “There is going to be plenty of excitement in that race car” as he pointed to his ride. John noted, “My car is a bit different as I have a four link late model rear end in his. It is my Frankenstein car.”

Danny Kapucinski or otherwise known at Danny K is excited to be at Syracuse and looking forward to the Future’s Race. He is the PR guy at Oswego and had been able to run a few sportsman shows. His late dad was a builder of supers and Danny said with a smile “Not sure dad would be too happy with me running dirt.” Personally, knowing his dad he would have been quite proud. Danny would be a super (asphalt or dirt) track announcer. He has all the tools.

Off to Utica Rome

Buddy Shane Andrews had too much of a SDW schedule and I was back in the tower with Mike Mallett at Utica-Rome for the “Tuesday Night Thunder”.

Indeed there was thunder as in hot laps as Mike Bowman took a nasty hard flip as he and Larry Wight got tangled up. I didn’t see it, but the Internet experts were quick to cast blame. Track was heavy and fast when it happened. However, both cars were done for the night as Bowman’s 16 rear clip probably needs replacement and the front end of the 99L was junk.

In the Sprint Feature coming off turn four for the start Paul Habeck, pole sitter, drifted up and got into outside front row driver Paul Kinney. The end result was Habeck slipping barrel rolling while several cars took evasive action but sustained damage. A half dozen cars were out for the night.

The story will be elsewhere, but winner Stewart Friesen and Kinney put on a classic battle in the early stages while in the mods it was a dog fight as Danny Varin won his first UR big block feature and track champ Matt Sheppard was all over him. Even the support mod lite event saw second place Joe Isabell loop it on the last lap as he tried to get past eventual winner Josh Sliter. Great feature racing across the board.

Pit Stops-If Sheppard had won UR it would have been 11 mod feature victories to tie a track record…Decent field and crowd for first time event. Mod-Lite invaders included Shawn Sliter, Josh Sliter, R.J. Pietz, and Jesse Hudson out of the Niagara Frontier…Different mod drivers inclucded Kyle Weiss, Randy Chrysler, Ryan Phleps, Tim Schneider, Marc Johnson, Ryan Artothnot, Alan Barker, Tim Kinsella, Shawn Pangman and Ryan Susice…Kevin Albert brought his sprint and mod from Pennsy, but ran only his Sprint Car and got his wing clipped when Habeck flipped…Weiss was running a Grandview legal 358 and is going to support the satellite shows all week. Said there were races and he wanted to race…Sprint Cars had some surprises including Albert from Lebanon PA, Ryan Susice (he had run only four sprint cars shows in his career at Brighton, Oshweken, Ransomville, and Merritville), former Selinsgrove champ Jason Shultz while Kelly Hebing was going to make her 360 debut, but her dad’s car had problems so Kelly didn’t get to run…Chuck Hebing really knows how to put on a show. He started in back and drove to a top seven finish…There were several good individual battles in the sprint main….Well, Day 1 is over and now time to get on to Day 2. Looking at the weather it all looks good except Friday, but you know the old saying in Central New York, “If you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes and it will change.”