OSWEGO — Larry Wight has experienced half of the Super DIRT Week auto racing events as a spectator or driver — leaving as a champion in 2018 — and is on a mission to make the upcoming 50th running his most memorable yet.
The Phoenix native is expected to be among the top contenders for the Super DIRTcar Series milestone extravaganza set for Oct. 3-9 at Oswego Speedway.
Wight, who won the 200-lap big block feature four years ago at Oswego, has witnessed the yearly gathering grow from his first time attending in 1997 around age five to the current weeklong spectacle.
The Oswego Speedway asphalt track was filled with roughly 500 truckloads of dirt earlier this month, and a countdown clock recently appeared in downtown Oswego to go with checkered flags and other signs around the county promoting the 50th Super DIRT Week.
The city is expected to more than double in population size for the racing festivities with hundreds of campers and around 20,000 spectators and racers expected to flock to the area. Events will be scattered throughout the city of Oswego, which has maintained hosting duties of the region’s premiere DIRT racing event since 2016.
“It’s just kind of grown into its own event,” Wight said. “It’s a staple, to the point where we have an asphalt track that we turn into a DIRT track for basically a month out of the year now.”
Wight has appreciated the atmosphere surrounding the marquee races as a fan and driver, eagerly anticipating his chance to attend each year growing up before competing for the first time in 2007. He has not missed a Super DIRT Week since first attending 25 years ago and will be racing in his 15th straight.
He noted a slew of memories both watching and racing at the Syracuse Fairgrounds mile track, where the tradition of “racing’s biggest party,” started in 1972, and competing at Oswego in more recent years.
“It’s always fun after each night is done, going through the cars and relaxing, having some beers,” Wight said. “They say it’s racing’s biggest party, and that’s really what it is. It’s an end of the year party that everyone gets together, trades their racing stories, and we all lay it on the line to see who’s had the best year and who has the best notebook.”
Wight has placed top 10 in all nine of his Super DIRTCar Series races this season, according to the point standings on the series website, including three top fives and a victory in a 60-lap feature at Weedsport Speedway on Sept. 10.
His current momentum is backed by historical success on the big stage. Prior to his 2018 triumph, he took a second-place finish in 2013 and third in 2017. He also won the pole for the 2015 feature in the final race at the previous Syracuse Fairgrounds site.
Wight was recognized earlier this year as one of the youngest to be named among the top 50 drivers in the history of Super DIRT Week in a series unveiling a new member on the series website each week to help commemorate the 50th running.
“It definitely means a lot to be included in that,” Wight said. “In my mind, I don’t rank anywhere near Kenny Brightbill, Gary Balough, so many of those guys, I couldn’t even hold their helmet bag let alone be considered in the same group as them, but it’s definitely an honor. I think I have a lot more to prove myself before I deserve to be ranked with them though.”
Wight will help pay homage to one of the event icons that helped draw him in as a young fan.
Brightbill will drive Wight’s No. 99 big-block modified for the past champions race on Oct. 6.
Wight expressed excitement for the deal and spoke of childhood memories meeting the pole-winner of the inaugural 1972 Super DIRT Week feature, who remained among the top annual contenders at the event into the 2000’s.
“He’s always known for his massive hands,” Wight said. “When I was four or five years old, he would literally put his hand over my head, cover my whole head then pick me up and look me eye to eye and ask how I was doing, then set me back down.”
The weeklong event will be capped off by the Billy Whittaker Cars and Trucks 200 big block feature on Oct. 9.
Campgrounds open this Sunday with a kickoff party scheduled for 6 p.m. at Lighthouse Lanes in Oswego. The city of Oswego will host a downtown parade at noon on Wednesday.
Other events surrounding the racing action for the upcoming week include a fan cornhole tournament, charity golf outing, pancake breakfast, and live music.
“It really is a community-wide event, not just while cars are on the track,” said Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow in a Zoom conference provided by the Super DIRTCar Series public relations staff.
“The excitement builds each and every year, and this year of course being the 50th anniversary, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it’s going to be the biggest Super DIRT Week event here in Oswego at least to this date.”
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