SHAMPINE: Are Changes In The Works For Oswego Speedway?

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CORNELIUS, N.C. — Speculation continues to circulate around the ownership of Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway. Many believe the country’s only weekly supermodified track will see its third ownership group in its 50-plus-year existence when an agreement is finalized in the coming weeks.

The expected new owner is Johnny Torrese, a veteran supermodified pilot, who has run a number of different cars at Oswego and on the ISMA trail since the early 1980s. Torrese, an upstate New York native who’s now an ultra-successful farmer and businessman in Miami, hasn’t strapped in a super in a couple of seasons, but was seen mulling around the speedway several times last summer.

If a deal goes through, Torrese would take the reigns from Pat Furlong, Sr. and Steve Gioia, Jr., who gained ownership of the iconic facility in 2004 from the Caruso family, who built the track in 1951 and operated it for more than five decades.

Once known as the “Indy of the East” and the “Home of Champions,” the speedway has struggled through the last 20 years. Supermodified car counts have been up and down, with a low coming in the 2008 season opener when only 12 supers showed up, and fan interest has dwindled from what it once was.

The once pristine facility is in need of a facelift, as some of the hardest winters in the country have taken their toll on the racing surface, scoreboard, bathrooms and grandstands.

Still, there are numerous race plants around the country in much worse shape. Oswego continues to attract more than 2,000 spectators for key weekly shows, and the annual International Classic 200 on Labor Day weekend forges ahead as one of the biggest open-wheel racing draws in the country.

Racer interest is very strong, as well. Oswego fans are expecting one of the best non-wing super fields in recent memory. Several rookies are expected to join the fray on a weekly basis, while top supermod racers Otto Sitterly, Joe Gosek, Greg Furlong and Joey Payne are expected to return. An Oswego non-wing super show hasn’t seen a consi since 2005, but there’s good reason to believe that drought will end this year.

We’ll be eager to spread the word and speak with Torrese if he does become the new owner of Oswego Speedway.

– We continue to send our best wishes to Boise, Idaho, supermodified racer Jeff Russell, who sustained serious injuries last fall while practicing his OF Racing No. 85 super at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Russell suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck, a broken arm, leg, ribs, bruised lungs and most seriously, traumatic brain injuries. Russell’s made tremendous progress over the last several months, and we’ve regularly kept tabs on his status at the often-updated OFRacing.com website.

– Congratulations to Bobby Santos III, who drove to a 17th-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. After a crash during practice in the Means Motorsports No. 52, JR Motorsports lent the Means team a car which, with no practice, Santos qualified 23rd and raced competitively throughout the 120-lapper.

Santos cut his teeth racing 350 supers at New Hampshire’s Star Speedway before advancing to ISMA to run for Howie Lane and most recently Clyde Booth. He nearly won the Oswego Classic for Mike Muldoon in 2004, a day after he captured the annual Classic weekend ISMA feature in a Lane-owned mount.

Santos returned to Oswego last September, where he wheeled a brand new Muldoon super in the Classic. After pitting for a new right-rear tire, the Franklin, Mass., native charged through the field and was running second to eventual winner Bob Bond before running out of fuel with fewer than five laps to go.

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