The first step in doubling the population of Oswego for a week commenced Wednesday morning when a load of clay was dropped on Oswego Speedway.
It began the process of turning the 5/8-mile asphalt track into a dirt track for the historic 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week, which brings more than 300 race car drivers, 900 campers and overall tens of thousands of fans to the city of Oswego, Oct. 3-9.
“It’s an honor for the city of Oswego to host Super DIRT Week once again,” said City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. “We’ve done this for a few years now, so we’re getting use to how this goes and what to expect. The excitement builds each and every year. This year, 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 to date and we’re looking forward to that.”
On Sunday, Oct. 2, a parade of campers will flood the city, eager to get their spot for Racing’s Biggest Party, while fans will filter in around Oswego County throughout the week.
It’s a massive influx that Barlow said is instantly noticeable by the sheer number of people and economic growth.
“Economically, what it does for this city is hard to explain,” he said. “Very difficult for people to comprehend. As I said, it’s an event where the city almost doubles or triples in size in terms of the amount of people here because of so many people on the campgrounds and those who travel in.
“If you’re out and about in Oswego during the week of Super DIRT Week, you can easily see the influx of traffic. The influx of people. The store shelves are empty, and the restaurants are jam packed. It’s really a neat thing to see here in town and it’s become one of the biggest events, if not the biggest event of the year, for Oswego County and certainly here in the city.”
This is the sixth year Oswego has hosted NAPA Super DIRT Week; it’s first being in 2016. The event started in 1972 at the Syracuse Mile in the New York State Fairgrounds and ran there until 2015 before the track was removed.
When looking for a new home, Oswego Speedway and the city of Oswego emerged as the perfect option.
“There are not too many facilities that can handle the magnitude of the event,” said DIRTcar Executive Director of Events Jeff Hachmann. “There were very few options. Obviously, there were many options if you look outside New York State, but Central New York and this area is where Super DIRT Week belongs.”
Much like drivers having to adapt to a new track, fans had to adapt to a new venue. And after a year, they realized it had more to offer than they’d been used to.
In the more than 40 years at the New York State Fairgrounds, campers would bring all the food and supplies they needed with them, knowing they wouldn’t be leaving the fairgrounds. They continued that tradition their first year at Oswego, but then realized the city had a lot to offer between the plethora of restaurants, bars and family activities only a couple minutes away from the speedway.
“I think after ’16, the attendees in those campers saw that we have local stores, local restaurants, local businesses right nearby and came back in 2017 and made a concerted effort to support those businesses,” Barlow said. “And [DIRTcar] has expanded on that and encouraged their attendees to go out and explore the community.”
The process of turning Oswego Speedway into a dirt track is expected to be completed Thursday night or Friday morning, while work around the speedway and the city – placing banners and flags around town – will continue up until the event.
Then, the drivers, including returning legends Richie Tobias Jr., Kenny Brightbill and Gary Balough, and NASCAR stars Kenny Wallace, Kenny Schrader and Stewart Friesen, and thousands of fans will invade the city, doubling its population for a weeklong celebration.
“We’re a racing town,” Barlow said.
For the full schedule of events – which include charity activities and fan events – and tickets for the 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week – featuring the Super DIRTcar Series, DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, DIRTcar Sportsman and DIRTcar Pro Stocks – CLICK HERE.