Oswego's Shampine Memorial steeped in tradition and excitement. Oswego, NY . . . The Jim Shampine Memorial, set for Saturday, May 25 at 5 pm, has now become Oswego Speedway's traditional Memorial Weekend event featuring the Oswego...
Oswego's Shampine Memorial steeped in tradition and excitement.
Oswego, NY . . . The Jim Shampine Memorial, set for Saturday, May 25 at 5 pm, has now become Oswego Speedway's traditional Memorial Weekend event featuring the Oswego supermodifieds, ISMA winged supermodifieds, limited supers and super stocks all on one card. But, this popular one day format has evolved from a much different beginning.
In the early 1970's, the season opener at Oswego Speedway was promoted as the Port City 150, a program highlighted by twin 75 lap features for the supers and modifieds. Unfortunately, the fledgling event met with consistent weather problems and was soon moved to Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend. Despite the fact that the twin bill ran at the same time as the Indy 500, fans flocked to the Steel Palace in record numbers year in and year out to watch the best drivers in short track racing square off.
Looking back over the years, The action in those 75 lappers was indescribable and the Port City champions read like a who's who of short track racing in the Northeast. Winners in those early years included the likes of Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine, Maynard Troyer, Greg Sacks, Brett Bodine and Steve Park in the modified division, while supermodified legends such as Jim Shampine, Warren Coniam, Eddie Bellinger, Bentley Warren, Doug Heveron, Kempton Dates, Dave Shullick and Steve Gioia graced victory lane, as well.
Unfortunately, the popular Memorial event at Oswego Speedway took on a new and emotional significance with the loss of Jim Shampine in 1982 and Richie Evans in 1985. The feature races were renamed the Jim Shampine Memorial and the Richie Evans Memorial for the fallen heroes and the program was moved to Saturday night of Memorial Weekend.
In 1993, declining attendance for the modified events at Oswego Speedway resulted in the demise of the Richie Evans Memorial on Memorial Weekend and the Budweiser Modified 200 on Labor Day Weekend. Ironically, it was the Fuller Brothers, Jeff and Rick, who would close out the modified chapter in Oswego's history book with wins in the spring and fall finales, respectively.
>From 1994 through 1998, track management struggled to find a format on Memorial Weekend that would capture the imagination of the race fans like the old days. The race continued to be known as the Jim Shampine Memorial with transitional changes each year. In 1994, it was a 125 lap event with Cliff Graves as the winner. On May 27, 1995, Eddie Bellinger was the victor in a 100 lap test. Doug Didero saw back to back 100 lap wins in 1996 and 1997 while Bellinger returned to victory lane in 1998 winning the feature which was now 75 laps in length.
The present Jim Shampine Memorial format was unveiled in 1999 featuring the ISMA winged supermodifieds and Oswego unwinged supermodifieds together on one card. It marked the resurgence of the supermodified class in the Northeast as prior to this it would have been impossible to assemble enough supermodifieds to run separate races in one day. Bob Goutermout and Randy Ritskes went into Oswego's history book as the first drivers to win an Oswego feature and an ISMA feature, respectively, on the same day.
2002 marks the 20th season without "The Pine", but it's only fitting that this event be named in his honor as he was not only the winningest supermodified driver in Oswego Speedway history, but he was also one of the co-founders of the International SuperModified Association. He would have been pleased to see the assembly of supers anticipated for the upcoming Memorial program.
Pat Abold, former Oswego Track Champion and co-owner of A&P Auto Parts, second year sponsor of the Shampine Memorial, summed it up best, "My family is extremely proud to sponsor an event named after the king of supermodified racing. Jimmy was an innovator, a legendary driver and a promoter of the sport, but most of all he was just a great human being. Even after 20 years, his presence is felt at Oswego Speedway every Saturday night."
On Saturday, May 25th, gates will swing open for the A&P Auto Parts/Wix Filters Jim Shampine Memorial at 2 pm with the first race set to be flagged off at 5 pm. There will be a full program of qualifiers capped off by a 50 lap ISMA feature, 50 lap Oswego super feature, 25 lap limited super main and a 20 lapper for the super stocks. For ticket information call the Oswego Speedway Box Office at (315) 342-0646 or visit www.oswegospeedway.com.