Stock car racing: One last hurrah for Super DIRT Week

Where is “Dandy” Don Meredith when you need him?

Where is “Dandy” Don Meredith when you need him?

The former analyst for “Monday Night Football” loved to sing “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” when a game got out of hand.

The line from a Willie Nelson song became appropriate again this week, when DIRTcar officially announced that this year’s Super DIRT Week will be the “Finale at Syracuse.”

The state will be removing the grandstands and the mile dirt track as part of a renovation project at the New York State Fairgrounds.

“We’re making big plans for this year’s event to make sure we close the record books with a bang,” said DIRTcar Racing CEO Brian Carter. “In addition to all the racing action at the Moody Mile, we’re planning to honor past champions and have some special social events planned for our dedicated fans that have made the week ‘Racing’s Biggest Party’ each year.”

While this year will mark the 44th running of Super DIRT Week, cars have been racing on the Moody Mile for more than 100 years. The track is one of only three one-mile dirt ovals left in the country.

Buzzie Reutimann won the first two Super DIRT Week crowns, in 1972 and 1973, and Brett Hearn’s six Syracuse victories are the most by any driver.

According to officials, DIRTcar and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office have reached an agreement to keep Super DIRT Week in Central New York for at least the next 10 years.

The big question is, where?

“Next year, race fans will be able to enjoy their favorite weekend of racing in a brand new facility,” said a release from Gov. Cuomo’s office.

That would indicate that Super DIRT Week will be moving to Central New York Raceway Park, the new facility being built by DIRT founder Glenn Donnelly about 22 miles north of Syracuse, off Interstate I-81.

Central New York Raceway Park has been in the planning stages for four years, and contractors recently began moving topsoil at the facility. When completed, it will feature a 2.2-mile road course, a 15,000-seat grandstand, a state-of-the-art control tour and a half-mile dirt race track which could be used for both harness racing and auto racing.

But it won’t be the Moody Mile.

There was always something mystical about walking through the tunnel at the fairgounds and entering the massive pits, ready to endure all types of weather (I saw sunny days turn into snowstorms in a matter of minutes) to watch the best modified drivers in the Northeast compete in what was their Super Bowl.

Donnelly was the one who brought Super DIRT Week to Syracuse, and if anyone can keep it alive, it’s him. But without the mile track, it will never be the same.

Around the tracks

Ken Tremont Jr. only has to start tonight’s modified feature at Albany-Saratoga to secure the 13th championship of his career at the historic Malta track. Tremont’s quest for the title got a little help from defending track champion Hearn last week, when Hearn broke the front end of his car when he hit one of the huge tires that border the inside of the turns at the track.

Last Friday’s modified feature at Albany-Saratoga was the Mike Ronca Memorial, and Tremont has now won all three of the tribute races.

Glen Ridge Motorsports Park has another big show scheduled for Saturday night. The 40-lap modified feature will pay $2,500 to win, thanks to some bonus money from former promoter Mike Sowle, and the sportsman feature will pay $500 to win.

Last week’s run-whatcha-brung show at Glen Ridge only drew 12 modifieds.

“I expected a low car count, because everyone is getting ready for Syracuse and the other big shows,” said promoter Pete Demitraszek. “There are just too many special series races this time of year. They’re going to kill weekend racing.”

Tremont almost had a 3-for-3 weekend, as he won Saturday night’s feature at Lebanon Valley, and then finished second to 20-year-old Bobby Hackel IV in the Devil’s Bowl dirt series race on Sunday. Hackel, who began the year racing with the modifieds at Albany-Saratoga before dropping back to the sportsman division, did a great job to hold off Tremont, winning by about three feet. That was Hackel’s second career win at the Bowl, as he won a race on the asphalt surface in 2011.

Congratulations to Nick Stone for winning the King of Dirt Pro Stock Series championship. Stone lost a wheel in last weekend’s KOD finale at Lebanon Valley Speedway and only finished 16th, but that was enough to give him a four-point margin of victory over Robbie Speed, who finished fourth. Speed needed a win to secure the championship.

Categories: Sports

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