By MIKE MALLETT
Super DIRT Week is officially in the record books for the 49th time in its history. As I try to do every year, I like to take a few days before I look back and give my final thoughts on the events that occurred throughout the course of the week.
The week definitely had plenty of things happen that people continue to talk about. Sadly, some of it not for the right reasons, but hey, nothing is perfect and neither was this year’s edition of the event. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.
I normally don’t get overly amped up about things, but for some reason this year made me think much more than I have in the past. I’ve read a lot of posts on social media and seen the attacks on various people involved in Super DIRT Week.
I’ve got a lot to cover, so without more fluff, here is my Super DIRT Week XLIX take.
Are you not entertained?
I use this as a heading for this part simply because I love the movie Gladiator and this line is used by the main character Maximus at one point in the movie.
I ask race fans that left Super DIRT Week, were you not entertained? Look, we all know the track wasn’t up to snuff, but did you watch any of the racing? Friday night the track had its issues, but Saturday’s Salute the Troops 150 and the Sunday features were entertaining. Isn’t this the reason we go to the races? Or is the reason we go to simply complain no matter what happens? A few years ago everyone was complaining how the track took rubber on Saturday afternoon. It was smooth and no one destroyed anything other than tires, but we complained. Which is it? No race track is perfect 100 percent of the time. We can all remember the good days and the bad at the track, but for some reason we need to dwell on the negative and never give credit where credit is due. Three of the last five events have gone off rather smoothly with a couple of fantastic finishes. Year one was a learning experience and this year was as well. Remember, we lost a whole year due to Covid-19 meaning everything sat for an extra 365 days. We weren’t able to carry on the tradition.
As for the racing, Stewart Friesen and Mike Maresca duking it out on Saturday night, that was thrilling. Zach Sobotka coming from deep to win the DIRTcar Sportsman feature, awesome! Stewart Friesen and Tyler Dippel’s late drive up through the field to get back to the front after incidents in the Billy Whittaker 200, simply fun to watch. I know I’ll get crucified for this, but generally speaking, the racing was exciting. There was passing and the drivers did what they could to make the best of it. Why can’t we as race fans do the same?
Everyone wants to relive the Mile and say how much better it was. Do we all not remember the holes in turns three and four that at times were filled with cement and covered with dirt because they were so deep. Syracuse had it’s issues with roughness and dust throughout the years as well. Do we have that short of a memory?
A Tip of the Cap to the Drivers
With my sentiments above, I know I’m a bit harsh, but I have to tip my cap to each and every one of the drivers that went out on the track and put their equipment and themselves at risk to put on a show for myself and the race fans that attended. My heart goes out to those that received major damage to their race cars. This is a dangerous sport that we all enjoy. Track conditions proved difficult, but you guys and gals made the best of it. For that, I’m grateful. I got to have a week of entertaining racing while spending time with my dirt racing family.
I respect those that chose to race and I have the same respect for those that decided to pull off after taking the green in their respective events. I’m sure neither decision was easy as damage was done due to the track, even if you made it to the end. There will be hours upon hours of work that needs to be done in the coming days to get ready for the next race. Thank you to everyone that tried to race and make it a show for the fans and myself. Thank you for what you do and all that you did during Super DIRT Week. It didn’t go unnoticed.
It Must be Oswego
I said this after the first year and I’ll say it after this year. I love Super DIRT Week at Oswego. It’s where Super DIRT Week has to be. Oswego just has a special feeling when you walk into the place. Whether it’s sitting in the backstretch grandstands or walking underneath the stands through the food vendors on the frontstretch, it feels like a place that should have this type of event.
Sorry to those of you out there who think Rolling Wheels is coming back or that we’ll somehow get to bring the Mile back. It’s just not happening. Oswego is here to stay with the new five-year deal in place with the 50th coming up next year. It’s time to move on from the Mile and the thoughts of this event at any other place. It is in Oswego for the foreseeable future, and I may be in the minority, but I’m happy it is. It isn’t perfect, but there just doesn’t seem to be a viable alternative.
One my favorite things about the event being in Oswego is that the community wants us here. It isn’t like the New York State Fairgrounds where they couldn’t wait to get rid of the race track. The city celebrates with us. They know the benefits that Super DIRT Week provides and they open their doors to let us in. Where else is that going to happen? I’m fortunate to work in Oswego on a daily basis. I work with people that would never go to a dirt race anywhere else, but you know what, they go to Super DIRT Week and support it. They want it to stay because it benefits everyone in the community. The short-term pain of thousands flocking to their town is work it for long term gain for the city.
I did some research on the weather in Oswego because why not try to use facts in an argument? From what I was able to gather from the numerous weather sites I looked at, and no I’m not a meteorologist, is that Oswego got roughly two more inches of rain this year in September than they get on average. That rain came mid to late in the month. That is ALL BAD when you are attempting to put down clay on a pavement surface. Is there a way to fix this even with the bad weather? I’m sure it can be done, but I’m not the be all end all of track preparation. I guarantee next year you’ll see it done differently.
Jeremie Corocoran and the track crew worked their butts off to get it right. They couldn’t. If you want to know how Corcoran felt, watch his interview from the pre-race show on Sunday. He put his heart and soul into it (https://www.youtube.com/
No More Preferred Starters Please
Preferred starting spots are reserved for those that have Platinum status or those drivers that have won Super DIRTcar Series, DIRTcar 358-Modifieds and DIRTcar Sportsman events. They get to start at the front of the Last Chance Showdowns. My question is why does this Syracuse provision continue? Oswego is much racier and passing isn’t as difficult as it once was. These drivers already have provisionals, so why do they get to start at the field in the Last Chance Showdown?
This isn’t done at any other major event and it’s not done at any other Super DIRTcar Series event. Why does this continue at Super DIRT Week? The drivers starting the Last Chance Showdowns earned those spots and no one should be put behind someone else simply because they are not platinum or run all the events on the schedule. This is our biggest race of the year; the line-ups should be based on how drivers finished in their heat races.
The drivers that have platinum status already have provisionals in most cases. Can we please make them attempt race their way in like the 50 plus other drivers that don’t have platinum status? Personally, I’m not a provisional guy either. If you don’t make it, you don’t make it. The field should be made up of the best 41 cars on the weekend. There is no provisional for Knoxville Nationals or other big races, why do we need one at Super DIRT Week? Let the best 41 drivers during the week compete in the event. It’s our biggest race of the season. Let’s treat it as such and make sure the 41 drivers that earned a spot, get a spot.
That’s what I have for this year. I’m sure some of my thoughts aren’t popular or won’t be well received. I don’t write much opinion-based stories, so once in a while it just feels good to write something about my thoughts on things. If you like them, awesome, if not, that’s okay too. I enjoy differences of opinion and real debates are fun to have.
With that, thanks for taking the time to read this. Thank you for following along with Dirt Track Digest coverage and I look forward to seeing you all down the road at the next race.