By T.J. Buffenbarger
When I arrived early Thursday morning for my first day working with DirtTrackDigest.com covering Super DIRT Week I managed to get myself stuck in the parking lot. This story became a recurring thing as various staff members would mention it to everyone, we crossed paths with. Almost every time the response ended up being the same:
“Welcome to Super DIRT Week.”
Super DIRT Week is not easy for anyone. Held in October when the weather could resemble any of all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. The weather is not picky about who it impacts. Fans, teams, and officials are all impacted. I’ll be the first to confirm it is a lot easier attending a major event in the middle of summer in Ohio or Iowa than it is in upstate New York in October. Everyone involved seems to embrace the ever-changing conditions as they have a badge of honor for enduring it.
The traditional venue at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse was taken away. Thankfully another historic facility, Oswego Speedway, has picked up where Syracuse left off. The logistics of turning a 5/8-mile paved oval into a dirt track, accommodating over 300 race cars and countless campers is a daunting endeavor. Some are still scared by the loss of the mile while others are embracing the change. Thankfully, they still show up to watch and participate.
Race teams are put to the test loading and unloading into Oswego’s infield when its their time to race along with competing in satellite events at other racetracks. Some teams manage to do this with one race car in the trailer while others have the luxury of having secondary equipment to take in the satellite events.
Fans can watch racing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late-night snack. People with campers organizing car pooling to get to satellite events and return to Oswego to sleep or party the night away. They might be the hardiest bunch of anyone because they are paying to go through the challenges of Super DIRT Week with the comradery of their friends. They could be staying home in their warm homes watching the races online or doing something else with their October weekend.
The four days I spent covering the races in New York were some of the most challenging yet rewarding of my career. Interviews had to be done quickly with the newsmakers because they often have another car to jump in or racetrack to go to. Stories are constructed quickly to get a few hours of sleep before going to Oswego to do it all over again the next day.
All the drivers I encountered were accommodating to work with, even in their most frustrating moments. DIRTcar officials were highly amused that the “Sprint Car Guy” was assigned to their biggest event and took time to answer ever crazy question I had. This was made easier by the amazing team at DirtTrackDigest.com. I hope the readers here appreciate all the hard work every member of the staff puts in not only at Super DIRT Week, but all year long.
One common thing Super DIRT Week has with every other event is the sadness that sets in once the event is done. Parting ways with friends, some of which may not be seen again until next year at Oswego. That sadness is greater though because racing season is winding down and for many people Super DIRT Week is likely the last race they will attend until next spring.
My thoughts on Super DIRT Week are that it is not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Even through displacement from Syracuse, crazy weather, mud, and a host of other things that should make a major event fail, Super DIRT Week preservers to hold a special place in the Northeast racing community. It was amazing to experience, and I hope to cover it again soon.