CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Column by Race Chaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker — TSR file photo —
“Wings on Wheels” is a new addition to our RaceChaser Online column rotation. We wanted to give some love to the open wheel-open cockpit set and present some cool driver/race event stories and thoughts. Today is the debut. We hope you like it! We have big plans for it in the future…
For our first look at some “winged things” we first turn to a track that usually runs winged things without the wings. Hey, it’s my column. I make the rules!
The Oswego Speedway in Oswego, N.Y. — which dared to take the “winged” Supermodifieds of the Midwest and go topless with them in the mid 1960s — is celebrating its 65th Anniversary on August 8 with a really cool event that will not only bring back many of the legends for an old timer’s reunion (Todd Gibson, Bentley Warren and many others have already agreed to appear for a pre-race gathering at the Lighthouse Lanes right on the speedway grounds) but will also see a return of the old qualifying format for the Supermodified division that night.
Instead of the current heats, consi and feature format, the supers will run the old format of heats, semi-finals, consi and feature. Of course, they’ll have the SBS (Small Block Supermodified) division there as well. The fast five-eighths-of-a-mile should be buzzing that night as the gorgeous Lake Ontario sunset takes place behind the front grandstand.
It should be a ton of fun for the fans, but the best part is the price of admission.
Yep. You read it right.
Five bucks gets you the chance to see the most electrifying short-track pavement cars on the planet and leaves you plenty of cash to enjoy the track’s famous Hoffman Hot Dogs and your favorite beverage.
And, you can show up at lunch time and hit the Lighthouse Lanes (right on Speedway grounds) for the annual Old Timer’s Reunion, enjoy some delicious food and meet some of the former stars of the “Big O”. I’ll be emceeing this event before heading up the hill to the track for the race night.
Bring the whole family and half-a-dozen of your closets friends and enjoy a fun day/night of racing and “bench racing”.
“Donny Sprint Car”
While Otto Sitterly has been pretty much dominating the Oswego Supermodified scene until the past couple of weeks, the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series (the dirt equivalent of an Oswego supermodified show on the Excite-O-Meter) has had their own “top dog” — who has been cleaning house literally all season.
Donny Schatz has simply been off the charts this year. He’s won 21 features and still has four months of racing left in the regular points season.
How many checkered flags can he earn? Well, some pundits are saying 45 is achievable and that would be incredible. In an era with so many competitive teams and racers, “Schatzie” has had a season for the ages.
Can anyone slow him down long enough to keep him from 40 wins? Stay tuned this summer and see if some other teams get hot for more than one or two shows at a time.
Mini Outlaw Mania
Staying on the “sprint car” theme, I have to give some love to what is perhaps the fastest growing division on dirt nationwide right now.
The mini outlaws, sometimes called outlaw karts, are anything but your average go-kart. The Open division of this series is nearly identical in the power to weight ratio department to a World of Outlaws Sprint Car. To call the mini outlaws a kart is really not doing them justice.
This division runs on dirt tracks across the country. It’s big on the West Coast, which is where Kyle Larson and Rico Abreu started gaining their racing fame. It’s also grown super fast on the East Coast, where on any given Wednesday night at Millbridge Speedway, just outside Charlotte, N.C. you will find any number of NASCAR notables either racing or working on cars for their kids or their friends.
Larson, Ricky Stenhouse and Kenny Wallace have made multiple appearances behind the wheel this year. Brett Bodine has a couple of children racing. Crew chief Kenny Francis has a young son who drives, and the name Gibbs is prominent as well. Max McLaughlin, son of former NASCAR XFINITY (then-Busch) Series hotshoe “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin, is one of the top Open division racers in the class and has gone on to run in the IMCA Modifieds on dirt tracks in the area as well.
These cars are bad to the bone and a real challenge to drive. Racers from five years old on up to adults compete each Wednesday, and you can find taped coverage of this year’s Speed Sport Challenge (featuring some of the top open wheelers including Abreu, Tanner Thorson and NASCAR racer J.J. Yeley competing against the best mini outlaw drivers in the nation) on MAVTV on August 6th at 7 p.m.
Keep your eye on this division — find Millbridge Speedway on Facebook and watch Race Chaser Online for increasing coverage going forward as well.
If you want to try one out and you’re in the Charlotte area, you can rent a car for about $400 from Kyle Beattie at SKE Karts/Kyle Beattie Racing. If you like it and want to buy one but don’t have the cash to plunk down all at once, ask Beattie about financing through Global CFS Motorsports Financing and he’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started!
Keep the wing side up and the tires on the track! We’ll resume our chat next week!