The 50th Running of NAPA Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway created several historic and memorable moments that will live with the event for years.
From Matt Sheppard’s dominating performances to the return of iconic names and the plethora of off-track activities, Super DIRT Week 50 was not only Racing’s Biggest Party, but the northeast’s most historic event.
Before we turn our attention to Super DIRT Week 51 (Oct. 2-8), relive the best moments of the 50th Running, created by the Super DIRTcar Series, DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, DIRTcar Sportsman and DIRTcar Pro Stocks.
“SUPER MATT” SOARS: Already cemented in Super DIRT Week history, Matt Sheppard added his name to another page in the history book when he lifted the special gold 50th Running trophy to celebrate his third Super DIRTcar Series Billy Whittaker Cars 200 triumph.
The Waterloo, NY driver had a stellar week, claiming the pole for the 200 lapper, winning his Big Block Qualifying Heat, winning his third DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 and then winning Sunday’s Big Block Feature – the second time he’s won the 358 and Big Block races in the same year (previously doing it in 2017).
Sheppard led the opening 49 laps of the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 before making a pit stop for new rear tires and having to climb his way back through the field. Eventually when he found his way back to the front, he faced an epic duel with Marc Johnson that lasted several laps. But once Sheppard got the lead on lap 160, he drove away and never looked back, making history as the ultimate winner of the 50th Running of NAPA Super DIRT Week.
LEGENDS RETURN: The most iconic names in dirt Modified racing gathered at Oswego Speedway for the special event. Some hopped back behind the wheel of a car, while others made life-long memories for fans.
Buzzie Reutimann, who won the first two Super DIRT Week events in 1972 and 1973, made his first appearance at Oswego Speedway with son David Reutimann, severing as an ambassador for the event and meeting with fans all week. He and four-time Super DIRT Week champion Gary Balough got to relive their favorite memories of the past, especially with Balough bringing his famous #112 “Batmobile” Modified – the car that was two seconds faster than the field in the 1980 Super DIRT Week and was banned from ever competing again.
While those two got to watch the action, icons like Brett Hearn, Jimmy Horton, Richie “Toby” Tobias Jr. and Kenny Brightbill climbed behind the wheel of a car to compete again.
THE MARC JOHNSON SHOW: Rising star Marc Johnson, of Guilderland, NY, put on a show all week between racing with the Super DIRTcar Series and the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds.
He qualified second for the Salute to the Troops 150, won his Qualifying Heat and then dueled with the likes of Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard and Max McLaughlin throughout the 150-lap race – leading 11 laps. Me got muscled out of the way for the lead by Sheppard late in the race and then misfortune struck in the final laps when he ran out of fuel.
That didn’t stop him from trying to put on a show again the next night for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200. After starting 10th, “The Dark Knight” worked his way forward, taking the lead on Lap 66. For the remaining laps, he found himself, again, in a duel with Sheppard for the lead, battling side by side for multiple laps before “Super Matt” won the battle. Johnson ended up leading the second most laps of the race with 50 and finished fifth – tying his career best finish in the 200-lap race.
KENNY & KENNY: Along with legends of dirt Modified racing, two of the biggest icons in motorsports decided to join in on the fun. Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace made their Super DIRT Week debuts in the DIRTcar Pro Stock division.
Both had solid showings, running strong throughout the 50-lap Feature. Schrader put on a show, charging his way from 24th to sixth by the end of the race in his CASE Construction Equipment #9s. However, he got involved in a late race accident that forced a 20th-place finish.
Wallace ran in the top 10 all race and managed a fourth-place finish. He also won the Area Auto Racing News Best Appearing Car Award.
BRUNO RICHARD’S LAST RIDE: With a DIRTcar Pro Stock dressed like the 50th Super DIRT Week Pace Car, Bruno Richard ran his final Super DIRT Week. And he made sure to go out in style.
By taking the green flag in the DIRTcar Pro Stock 50 – where he finished fifth – the Gatineau, QC driver clinched the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series champion – a dream accomplishment of his.
“It’s so great because it was my dream to [win a title] on dirt,” Richard said. “We started in April, and day by day, we were supposed to [only battle for a track championship], and we win everywhere we go.
“It’s so great to get [the championship] because it was one of my dreams.”
MCPHERSON’S DREAM SEASON: Canadian Cody McPherson hasn’t been able to race in the United States for a couple year due to restrictions from the pandemic. But when the border opened this year, he made up for lost time.
Leading into Super DIRT Week, McPherson had already won the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly championship for the DIRTcar Sportsman division. Then, he claimed the pole for the DIRTcar Sportsman Chevrolet 75 at Super DIRT Week and went on to lead all 75 laps for his first Super DIRT Week title. A few weeks later, he also won the DIRTcar Sportsman Series championship.
NICK STONE’S FIRST: For 12 years Nick Stone had been coming to Super DIRT Week, hoping to add his name to the stout list of DIRTcar Pro Stock winners, coming as close as second in 2016. This year, mission accomplished.
The Rotterdam Junction, NY driver started fourth and took the lead on Lap 12 of the 50-lap race. He was challenged for the lead and lost on three occasions but always worked his way back to the lead and was able to maintain it when the checkered flags flew.
CITY PARADE: Boasting one of the biggest crowds in event history, the Super DIRT Week Parade on DIRTcar Day helped kick off the week of activities with cars from every division parading around the city streets of Oswego.
The fan-favorite tradition sees people of all ages, dressed in their favorite dirt racing attire, line the streets and wave to their favorite drivers as they drive by before trying to win Super DIRT Week with that same car.
CHARITY EVENTS: Between the new charity golf tournament, the 50/50 and World Racing Group’s match of what was raised, $50,000 was donated to the American Cancer Society this year.
Several drivers participated in the inaugural Bart Contracting Company Charity Golf Tournament at Radisson Greens Golf Club in Baldwinsville, with all proceeds going to Colorectal Cancer Research. The event was in honor of Albany-Saratoga Speedway promoter Lyle DeVore and his fight to conquer the illness.
There was also a charity Pancake Breakfast benefiting the CHC Learning Center in Amherst, NY. The breakfast honored a fire-safety team member who lost his son last year.
THE TROPHY: The one-of-a-kind, one-year-only, 50th Super DIRT Week trophy became the face of the event. It traveled the state, visiting iconic areas of New York, and told the story of Super DIRT Week everywhere it went.
The black oval at the base is the exact shape of the Syracuse “Moody Mile,” the treasured track that birthed Super DIRT Week and hosted the event from 1972 to 2015 before being torn down. At the top of the trophy, the smaller black oval is the exact shape of the “Steel Palace” Oswego Speedway, which became the new home for Super DIRT Week in 2016.
Now, that relic will forever live with Matt Sheppard, reminding him of his historic win and its significance.
To be a part of the new memories that will be made during Super DIRT Week 51 at Oswego Speedway, CLICK HERE for tickets.