Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville enjoyed a strong season despite no fans in attendance for all but one race. Provided Photo

Can-Am Speedway owner Tyler Bartlett has been building momentum since he took over at the track in 2018 and he wasn’t going to let anything to stop that.

The LaFargeville-based track managed to carry out a full season of racing despite the COVID-19 pandemic that began just as drivers were gearing up for racing season.

All but one event was held without fans, due restrictions placed on the racing industry by New York state’s government. Drivers came out to the track in droves and Bartlett was impressed by how many cars made it to “the Nasty Track of the North”.

“We had car counts anywhere from 130 to 148 cars per show,” Bartlett said.

Can-Am live-streamed races to fans via the Dirt Track Digest web site at around $20 per card. Those races attracted anywhere from 200 to 450 spectators, from places as far away as Canada, Texas and California.

The large counts culminated in the unexpected season finale on Oct. 9 as part of DIRTcar’s makeshift OktoberFAST Series. The week-long event served as a replacement for SuperDIRT Week at Oswego Speedway, which was canceled due to the pandemic. DIRTcar made the adjustment and held a series of events that featured tracks around the state, from Albany-Saratoga Raceway in Malta to the finale at Weedsport Speedway on Oct. 11. According to Bartlett, 213 cars participated in the showcase in LaFargeville that featured races in the sportsman, 358-modified and big-block modified divisions.

“They (DIRTcar) decided to reward us for staying open and racing,” Bartlett said. “They leased the track and let us handle the behind-the-scenes operations.”

The OktoberFAST live stream carried on DIRTVision.com was “in the thousands” of views, according to Bartlett. Many fans got a chance to check out Can-Am for the first time for the special event and brought the track plenty of attention.

“It was a great chance for people to see Can-Am on a nationwide scale,” Bartlett said.

While many hope SuperDIRT Week returns to Oswego in Oct. 2021, some would like the OktoberFAST series of races to be carried over for future seasons. It may be differ from this year’s format, but Bartlett said it’s possible it will return.

“I can see some form of it next year,” Bartlett said. “It’s all DIRTcar’s call.”

The impressive car counts at regular and special events came even without Canadian drivers being able to participate due to restrictions barring non-essential travel from crossing. Bartlett remarked that the field would have been even larger.

“I told somebody we could have had 300 cars if Canadians were allowed to come,” Bartlett said. “We usually have anywhere from 25-30 cars from Canada show up on regular nights.”

The track made significant improvements in the offseason, such as shortening the track from a half-mile to four-tenths of a mile and putting down a new clay surface. Drivers were pleased with the changes that were made for the 2020 season.

“I’m glad to be here and always glad to race at Can-Am,” said 358-modified driver Erick Rudolph to Dirt Track Digest after winning the John Burr Memorial Race on Sept. 11.

Can-Am did host fans for Pabst Shootout on July 1 and 900 spectators showed up to the track. But the track decided to run the rest of its season schedule without fans after receiving a warning from the state. Bartlett is still unsure when fans can return to the track, but said he’s hopeful about Can-Am’s prospects next season.

“I think fans will be eager to get back to the track,” Bartlett said. “2021 will be a big year for Can-Am.”

Participation for Saturday night go-kart racing was around 80 per event and yielded solid turnouts even without the usual Canadian competitors.

MCCCREADIE WINS IN CHARLOTTE

Watertown native Tim McCreadie wrapped up his 2020 season with a big win in the Charlotte 35 late model series race Thursday at Concord, N.C.

McCreadie slid by Ricky Weiss on lap 31 and held off a late charge by Brandon Overton to pick up his first late model win. He had won four SuperDIRTcar Series races there previously.

McCreadie finished second in the Lucas Oil Late Model Series and won seven races on the circuit.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Reporter/Agate Person

A lifelong resident of Northern New York. Dan graduated from Lyme Central School and attended SUNY Oswego. He's worked in all forms of media, including radio and print. Dan covers hockey, wrestling, track and field, tennis, volleyball and golf.

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