This year marks my seventeenth consecutive year, of attending SUPER DIRT WEEK, the great feast of Dirt Racing that takes place in Central New York each fall.
A lot has happened since my first visit.
The original location , at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse was lost ( to other uses ) a few years ago and the event has now moved to the Oswego Speedway, about a 30 minute drive north of the city.
Things have also changed personally for me as time went by , and the increasing years took their toll.
It was 2003 , that I attended my first SDW.
In those days, much younger and full of energy , I was chasing here there and everywhere taking pictures and writing reports as I ventured into the world of auto racing Media.
I’d be travelling all over in my car, camping out in my tent, and partying until the early hours.
I’m a lot older now and definitely not as fit as I used to be.
So this year my usual busy schedule was toned down a little.
Six weeks ago, I was back in the Ottawa Civic Hospital following a relapse in my Myasthenia Gravis condition, and after being discharged on 7th September, I had just one month to get myself fit enough for SUPER DIRT WEEK.
Since then, I’ve been taking things easy, keeping my racing activities to a minimum as I convalesced . As this years event got closer, I felt that I’d regained enough strength to attend on a scaled down agenda.
So, early Thursday morning (10 Oct) I left home in Cornwall , Ontario bound for , Oswego, New York, with three different locations reserved for accommodation .
By 8-30 am I was at the main gate at Oswego Speedway, and signing in for my Media Credentials.
Soon after , I checked into the Media Tent , where I found DIRTCARS ,Chris Dolack hard at work .
It wasn’t long before Hot Lap action was taking place, so I took a seat high in the grandstand to take a look.
After taking a few pics in th pits , and chatting with my friend , Pro Stock driver Rob Yetman and Mike, his crew chief , it was time to head to the next place on my schedule.
As usual on the Thursday night of SDW the nearby Brewerton Speedway were staging the Hurricane 100, a 358 Modified DirtCar Series race as well as tour race for the Sportsman
I was there nice and early, in time to bag a good parking spot , recline the seat and get an afternoon nap.
Once the gates opened up, it didn’t take me long to meet up with my buddies, Don Simpson and Colin Casserley.
Colin was once again making the trip across the pond, from England to cover the SDW experience for the European racing media.
I’ve known Colin for over 40 years from back in the days we both raced Formula One Stock cars on the BriSCA circuits.
Don was there , on route to cover the Short Track Super Series at the Afton Speedway NY at the weekend.
Once the racing commenced, I joined the army of ‘togs’ on the middle.
It was a chilly night so I was pleased that the main event was up first.
Big winner of this was Mat Williamson, with Erick Rudolph chasing him across the line and Mike Maresca following in third.
After the Victory Lane photo shoot, I made my exit, heading off to the Motel 6 in Syracuse for my bed for the night.
In my absence Kyle Inman took the checkers in the Sportsman race.
On Friday , I was back at Oswego to meet up with my friends Chanty and Ted Lesage who had traveled down from Gatineau , Canada, that morning.
I took a quick look around the pits to chat among fiends, which included Corey Wheeler who had the added help from Joey Ladouceur and Ryan Stabler. I also stopped by to say hello to Daniel Jodoin, Tim Fullers crew man.
After this it was time to take a few pics of the Hot Lapping Pro Stocks and Sportsman from the back straight grandstand.
This year I decided to take my racing shots from up there, as opposed to going on to the center.
Oswego Speedway is a great place for SDW but there are two disadvantages, for photographers compared to Syracuse relating to picture taking from the middle. As well as having more impeded shots, there are no tunnels, like we had at the Fairgrounds. Once you commit your self to being on the middle, you have to be prepared to stay there for a long time.
The back straight Grandstand provides good chances for action shots during the day time, so that was my choice. The disadvantage being , you are stuck on the outside for Victory Lane pics . So for this year Colin, was covering for me.
Around mid afternoon I took off from Oswego to register at ‘day two’s accommodation, the RFH Hideway at Phoenix NY.
After a few hours rest I was back to the track for the Friday Night ‘Under the Lights’ show for 358 and Big Block Modifieds.
As stated earlier my plan was to take things easier this year while on recovery mode, so kept to the plan and stayed on the outside. One disadvantage of course , being further away, means the flash is ineffective, so my camera was put down and I became a fan for the night.
I stayed until about 10-00 pm before retiring to the motel for an early night.
The weather forecast for Saturday wasn’t good with rain predicted in the area until mid afternoon.
My plans for the day had been to spend the day at Oswego then go to the Fulton Speedway in the evening. I was going to attend the AARN Ms Motorsports photo shoot at lunch time followed by shooting the 150 lap Salute to the Troops race for 358 Modifieds in the afternoon, before heading to Fulton.
The rain-delay meant a change to my agenda.
After Chanty and I had a late breakfast in a downtown diner we returned to my ‘night three’s ‘ accommodation ‘The All Seasons Inn .
This is just five minutes away from Oswego . so we watched a movie while listening for updates, and waiting out the delay.
The first bit of news to come through, was that Fultons race that night had been canceled , with the afternoons races at Oswego still taking place , albeit , under the lights in the evening.
So, a group of us, that included Chanty, Ted and the Stephane Lebrun Family headed to Ruby Tuesdays restaurant for supper , before the action got under way.
Pro Stock driver Stephane, wasn’t racing at SDW this year, but was there with his camper and family to watch the races.
After our meal it was straight to the races, where once again I became a regular race fan for the night and watched from the back straight grandstand.
Billy Decker took the checkers in the 150 lap Salute to the Troops for the 358’s after battling with team mate Larry Wight and then passing the leader Erick Rudolphe.
Once this was over , I decided to pass on watching the remainder of the nights racing and to return to the motel .
As I was leaving the track , I happened to bump into Ms Motorsports , Taylor Marie Fullin and her partner.
I’d missed her AARN photo shoot earlier in the day , which was also affected by the rain , so took advantage of this chance for my own personal pic.
Once back at the All Seasons Inn, I got word via social media from my Buddy Don Simpson down at the Afton Speedway who was covering the Short Track Super Series. He was there to see Matt Sheppard take the big win.
Sunday was the final day of SUPER DIRT WEEK with the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 for Big Block Modifieds the headline event concluding things.
A race track breakfast of French Toast and Ham, was had with Chanty and Ted at the Lebruns camper, before the Sportsman 75 lap main event got under way around midday.
This time of the day was perfect for picture taking from high in the grandstand, where I sat behind a bunch of my friends from Quebec in Canada.
Once again Colin was down on the middle to get a Victory Lane pic.
Next up was the 50 lap main event for the Pro Stocks, a race that usually provides plenty of action, and one that the close friends accompanying me were waiting for.
With this race over, it was time to wrap up my SUPER DIRT WEEK for this year.
Just six weeks ago , I wasn’t expecting to be there , but by taking things slowly and with the help and care of close friends I made it.
I chose to miss the final race of the week, the Big Blocks Billy Whitteker 200 race in favor of an early exit to follow Chanty and Ted back up I81 to the border.
Colin was still there on the middle taking pictures to get me a Victory Lane shot of my fellow Canadian , Mat Williamson of St Catherines , Ontario, who got his first ever NAPA Super Dirt Week win. Tim Fuller was second with Brett Hearn third.
I was back home in Cornwall by a sensible 6-00 pm and ready to put my feet up, with mission accomplished.
Thanks to Colin and Don for the use of your pics