OSWEGO — The drivers, fans, and track officials at Oswego Speedway have much to look forward to in the new year and can now circle a date for a return to racing after a trying 2020 for all involved.
Oswego Speedway recently released the full schedule for its upcoming 70th anniversary season to rev up for its earliest start in five years on May 8. The slate is highlighted by the previously announced, first-time presence of two Classic Weekends to accommodate for the lost running of the season-culminating clash last year.
The 5/8-mile paved oval for supermodifieds widely known as “The Steel Palace,” last held a competitive race on Sept. 1, 2019, and was limited to a series of closed test sessions in 2020 due to state COVID-19 mandates limiting options for local auto tracks to operate.
“It will be good just to get back to the racetrack,” said decorated track veteran, Joe Gosek, who debuted in 1980 and has been a regular competitor ever since. “For me, it was 40 years of doing the same thing for the summers. That was a big change, I guess when you do something so long consistently, that’s what you’re programmed to do and you gear up for it.”
The new season will open with two weeks of regular points races leading into the 64th running of the Classic Weekend to kick off May 27, making up for the traditional race originally scheduled for last September. The 65th annual Classic Weekend is scheduled for Sept. 3-5.
“You usually have one and you put all your eggs in one basket for that race, it’s so big financially and prestige-wise that everyone wants to do good,” Gosek said. “You only get one shot and if something goes wrong, it’s disappointing, so this year it’s kind of cool to make up that race. That’s a great idea and it starts the season off with a bang.”
The 2021 schedule features a total of 10 divisions throughout the season, including weekly points series action for the Novelis supermodifieds, 350 supermodifieds, and Pathfinder Bank small block supermodifieds.
Gosek is just one the many drivers of varying experience levels eager to return to the track in May.
“I personally think it’s really exciting because it feels like we’re getting back to some type of normal even if nobody really knows what that is right now,” said Alison Sload, who has waited to build off her sensational 2019 rookie campaign with John Nicotra Racing. “I feel it brings a little hope for May and June, to get back to some normal and finally get to see everybody.”
The return of the “King of Wings,” event on July 31 is another key addition for the upcoming year, back for its 10th overall running after last being held in 2017.
Several different touring series will be featured on special events, such as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the N.Y. Super Stock Series, and ISMA.
Track championship night is slated for Aug. 21 while other annually-anticipated outings fill the slate — Jim Shampine and Tony White Memorials on July 3, Mr. Novelis Supermodified and Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS night on July 27, along with Retro Night and Old Timer’s Reunion on Aug. 7.
Camden Proud, a regular driver and track public relations director, said that Oswego Speedway owners John and Eric Torrese were motivated to deliver a marquee schedule following the lost season of 2020.
“It’s all in the back of our minds how it’s all going to play out, we’re just going to have to go with the flow and cross that bridge when we get there but right now, it’s kind of hard not to be excited about the schedule we’ve got with 10 divisions, the diversity of it and all the different series coming in,” Proud said. “Really just giving the fans and everybody that had to have their race car sit last year the most aggressive schedule we’ve had in five years, so we’re looking forward to that and just hoping for the best right now.”