DIRT WEEK NOTES: Rainy Start To Saturday

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OSWEGO, N.Y. – After a beautiful day along the shores of Lake Ontario Friday that let two day’s worth of Super DIRT Week activities be rolled into one, Saturday dawned dark, dreary and damp with scattered showers in the area and a major rainfall predicted for later in the afternoon.

Officials delayed the morning activities at Oswego Speedway to get the track back in shape, but the majority of participants spent the morning getting ready for another long, wet day.

By 10 a.m. it was pouring and their expectations were realized.

– One crew with work to do was that of multi-time Billy Whittaker Cars 200 winner Brett Hearn, who grenaded a motor at the start/finish line at the end of his big-block qualifier.

He has no worries about qualifying due to his point status with the Super DIRTcar Series, but it did add more work to a crew already preparing for both the 358 and big-block finales.

– Danny Varin and his father, Bobby, will roll off 24th and 27th, respectively, in Sunday’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200.  The younger Varin has switched his focus to the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints driving for longtime owner Dave Cruickshank, but he still runs a substantial number of modified races in Ed Munger’s big-block.

His father was the track champion at Fonda Speedway in Carole and Alton Palmer’s No. 76 this year, a seat that opened up when Palmer was injured in a racing incident and his physicians advised him that he should retire immediately.

– Two major topics of conversation around the speedway during the week have been promoter Brett Deyo’s assumption of promotional duties at Fonda Speedway and Dean Reynold’s appointment as Mike Perrotte’s replacement at the helm of the various DIRTcar Northeast series.

Deyo is widely respected as a promoter, with his Short Track Super Series catering to the working man racer with short races on smaller speedways paying healthy purses relative to the longer DIRTcar modified series events that often entail a great deal of travel for participants.

While he lives in Delaware near his Georgetown Speedway venue, Deyo has hired good help to be on the scene daily at Fonda and says he will be there for all events.

Teams will have to switch to American Racer tires from DIRTcar’s Hoosiers, but in the process will become eligible for the tire companies’ lucrative incentive program.  But most look forward to the young, aggressive promoter taking command as he is known for widely promoting his events and attracting support from a wide variety of sponsors.  Where many track operators could best be described as race organizers, Deyo is a true promoter.

As for Reynolds, most applaud his long history in the sport at the helm of the Empire Super Sprints, though a substantial number question whether he will fit in with the modified teams that run the Super DIRTcar Series.  Anyone with more than a passing experience in racing knows that sprint car racers and modified racers are entirely different animals.

Perrotte, a longtime racer and, for a short while, promoter at Plattsburgh’s Airborne Speedway Park, took command with an insider’s knowledge of who was bending the rules and addressed the issue quietly but firmly and is regarded as having done an excellent job during his tenure.

– Another topic of conversation in a lighter vein has been Danny Johnson, who looks strong as a teammate to last year’s runner-up, Peter Britten, in one of Ray Graham’s Troyer big blocks.

After an impressive climb from the teens to a third place finish at Brewerton’s 358 modified satellite event, Johnson surprised the crowd by answering the announcer’s inquiry about his run with, “I didn’t really want to be here tonight.”

Among the division’s greatest drivers ever and a natural talent who can go fast in anything, Johnson is equally known for his stream of consciousness answers to both announcers and the media, which further enhances his reputation.

He and older brother Alan have been winning since they were teenagers and show no signs of terminating careers that started decades ago, back in the days of Gremlin-bodied modifieds.

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Ron Hedger
A veteran of nearly 40 years with SPEED SPORT, Hedger has also covered auto racing for the Schenectady, N.Y., Daily Gazette and was a contributor to Stock Car Racing and Open Wheel magazines.