Bob Bond won the 54th annual Budweiser Int’l Classic Sept. 6 at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway, marking the local driver’s second supermodified win of the season at the lakeside oval after his King of Wings 50 triumph July 10.
Bond’s victory — only his second supermodified triumph in more than a decade of trying — was overshadowed by a couple of things. First, rainy weather plagued Classic weekend from Saturday through Monday evening. Rains moved into the Oswego area following Friday’s practice session, and the wet weather didn’t stop until late Sunday afternoon.
The inclement conditions forced the postponement of Saturday’s International Supermodified Ass’n Supernationals 50 and Small Block Supermodified 100 lapper until Monday morning. Skies cleared by midday Sunday, when the track announced it would work to dry the racing surface and run the non-winged Classic.
Later in the afternoon, officials postponed the Classic until Monday after the Supernationals and Small Block 100, stirring criticism from some fans who looked at the clear skies and saw no reason the race couldn’t be run.
Thankfully rain held off Monday, albeit dark clouds and sprinkles threatened the action throughout the day, and 350 laps of action went into the record books. It marked the second time in five years the Classic had to be run on Monday afternoon of Labor Day weekend.
Bond passed defending Classic winner Otto Sitterly late in the 200-lapper to earn the $15,000 check. It was a “classic” Classic drive as Bond hung around the top 10 for most of the day before letting the race come to him. A wreck just past halfway eliminated five contenders, and as several race-long top-10 runners’ tires went away, the normally conservative Bond utilized the rubber he had left to come on strong at the end.
“Everything just fell my way,” Bond said. “With 50 to go, the car kept getting better and better. I could see the guys in front of me getting looser and looser. Everything just worked out my way. I could see Otto was really loose and slipping. I was pretty sure I could get him at that point because my car was pretty good at the end.
“I thought I was in trouble in the first 100 laps,” he continued. “The car wasn’t good. It was loose and slipping a bit. But once that fuel burned off, it came around.”
The second happening that gained at least equal the amount of attention as Bond’s win was the aforementioned accident that claimed top-five runners Doug Didero and Joey Payne.
Six-time Classic winner Greg Furlong and Didero made contact in turn four, sending Didero around while the native Canadian was running third. In the midst of the spin, Didero lit up the tires on his potent No. 3 mount in an attempt to negotiate a 360-degree spin and continue in order to not lose a lap.
While attempting the unpopular, yet familiar move in a race which caution laps count, Didero made contact with Payne and heavily damaged Payne’s Strong Racing super. Payne’s car wasn’t damaged enough to keep the New Jersey native from making a full trip around the speedway and piling into Didero’s car, ensuring his race wouldn’t continue, either.
The two drivers, both of whom later claimed their cars were hands-down the best in the field, quickly unstrapped themselves and came to blows on the front straightaway. Pit area ruckus ensued, and when it was over it seemed most onlookers had forgotten Bond’s fine drive to victory, rather focusing on Payne’s and Didero’s fight on the front-stretch.
The incident added some spice to what most considered a pretty good race. Bond was an unlikely winner and the clear favorite — Sitterly — led most of the race before the underdog overtook him at the end.
An intriguing rivalry may have been born as well, although Didero and Payne are never sure bets to return to weekly Oswego competition. However, they are two of supermodified racing’s best and no matter which side fans are on, they ought to appreciate each veteran’s prowess behind the wheel.