When Right Is Left: Flagging at Oswego, Tougher Than it Looks
by Clayton Johns, with Brendan Capria
OSWEGO, NY – Dave Farney has spent over 20 years flagging dirt track racing, but Oswego Speedway presents a first-time experience at the 45th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week.
Farney, nicknamed the “director of traffic control” by announcer Shane Andrews, has been atop the flag stand at dozens of racetracks, but Oswego is the first facility where he’s flagged from inside the track.
“I didn’t prepare. I’m not used to it at all. I’m looking down the track from right to left, and it’s completely opposite of everything I’ve ever done at any racetrack,” Farney said.
It sounds like a small detail to flag from the inside of the racetrack, but Oswego is a rare exception. Most tracks place the starter on the outside of the racetrack in front of the main grandstand. Not so at Oswego. The flag stand sits on the infield side of the start-finish line.
The switch means Farney now has to reverse all of his usual tendencies and his pre-race “sweep” of the track to ensure it is safe for racing means turning a full 360 degrees to see the whole surface.
“I’ll have to adjust to it. I feel awkward, and I’m sure I’ll look awkward, but we’ll get through it,” Farney said. “It’s not for me. The races are for the drivers. I’m just there to be a part of the show.”
Despite its challenges, there is excitement that comes with Farney’s post in the infield. For the first time in his career, he’ll face the fans on the front stretch while flagging.
“That’s the exciting part. Usually I have my back to them, so that in itself is a different experience. It’s going to be exciting to look people in the eyes while the race is going on,” Farney explained.
Farney is no different than many fans, officials and participants at NAPA Super DIRT Week. He looks back on its Syracuse history fondly after attending all but two of the 44 events as either a fan or flagger. The memory of Syracuse remains special for Farney, but he looks forward to a new era at Oswego.
“It’s disappointing not to be [at Syracuse], but to be at a track like Oswego that has such great tradition, it’s exciting,” Farney said. “It’s time to start a new tradition. So far it’s been successful and we’re hoping it’s only going to be better through the rest of the week.”