HEDGER: Syracuse Notebook


SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With the entire Syracuse area getting drenched by a rain that started shortly after Friday night’s Super DIRT Week Triple-20’s qualifying program and lasting through mid-day Saturday, it’s a good time to catch up on what’s happened so far.

– NAPA executive Aaron Smith, who spoke at the Super DIRT Week press luncheon Thursday, said that his company got involved with the Syracuse races because “your fans are the people we deal with every day,” a great selling point for racers negotiating for sponsorship anywhere. And with “NAPA blue” now adorning the mounts of big winner Billy Decker as well as banners hung everywhere, the company is certainly getting unparalleled exposure.

– DIRT’s Chris Dolack announced that the modified tour will return to Cornwall, Granby and Drummondville in 2013, followed by Brett Hearn revealing that his promotional group will again stage Brett Hearn’s Big Show at New York’s Albany-Saratoga Speedway on July 9.

Those announcements were all expected but attendees were very impressed when driver Stewart Friesen and racing writer/special event promoter Brett Deyo said they would organize the DIRTY JERSEY 60 at the New Egypt Speedway on June 18.

– Deyo, who promotes very successful special events at the Five Mile Point and Penn Can Speedways, among others, tipped that he was “thrilled to do a premier event at a major facility with a lot of seats,” a perfect description of the New Egypt facility, where the stars of NY, NJ and PA will square off in the Super DIRT Series event.

– World Racing COO Tom Deery, loser of a bet with DIRT’s superb announcer, the fun-loving Shane Andrews, had to wear a Syracuse Orange team shirt while he spoke to the press luncheon crowd. But it did not slow him down one whit and his presentation was very well received.

– Fans were shocked when it was announced that Frank Cozze was subbing for friend Mike Perrotte in the big block qualifier. The former Syracuse winner, now enjoying success in the central Pennsylvania sprint car world, had been working on Perrotte’s car, which sported Cozze’s winning motor from 2008.

Late Friday, Perrotte, who also promotes the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, fell from his hauler’s lift gate and suffered head injuries and a broken wrist. He was in the hospital when Cozze took to the mile again. The car did not finish the qualifier but will be eligible for Sunday’s Last Chance race.

– Two legendary DIRT drivers got together Friday afternoon at Syracuse, representing hundreds of wins and some great races. Jack Johnson, whose health is deteriorating, was on hand with son Ronnie and “Barefoot Bob” McCreadie stopped by to visit him and check on son Tim. Both second generation racers qualified well for both the big block and small block races, so their dads got to chat quietly for a long while.

– McCreadie, never the one to stifle an opinion, proclaimed that it was a sin that so many youngsters with no talent were out on the track while 200 winner Kenny Brightbill was walking the pits with no ride, a situation that has persisted for a couple of seasons now.

He also filled us in on the progress of his “other” son, Jordan’s, racing career. He recently won his first race but for him, racing is just a hobby. The youngest McCreadie has an engineering degree, so will not be a full-time racer like his father and brother.

– The biggest concern at Syracuse, as always, is the condition of the speedway. The turns have peeled up in spots, leading to a condition most drivers describe as “holes” that others maintain are more accurately “ripples” or “waves” that cause the cars to bottom out and dart this way and that.

No matter the description, most are worried about driveline failure, the most common rough track ailment, in the features. There was also a lot of attention focused on Brett Hearn’s broken wheel Friday night, as that is an uncommon problem but a very dangerous one on the high-speed mile.