Oswego Speedway 50th celebration a gratifying experience

Oswego, NY The hard work and planning all came to fruition last Friday and Saturday as Oswego Speedway celebrated 50 years of continuous racing at one of the most famous short tracks in the country. Despite threats of rain both days, somehow ...

Oswego, NY The hard work and planning all came to fruition last Friday and Saturday as Oswego Speedway celebrated 50 years of continuous racing at one of the most famous short tracks in the country. Despite threats of rain both days, somehow providence or the late Harry Caruso, smiled down on the celebration and dispersed the rain. It end result was gratifying.

Friday's 50th Anniversary luncheon, held at the Oswego State University's historic Sheldon Hall, was attended by many former Budweiser International Classic winners, car owners and track champions. Political figures from Kathleen Hoffman of New York Governor Pataki's office, to NYS Senator James Wright, NYS Assemblywoman Frances Sullivan, representatives from Senator Chuck Schumer's office, to the Oswego county and city government figures, including Mayor of Oswego John Gosek, were present to deliver accolades and proclamations in honor of the Oswego Speedway. For 50 years, the Oswego Speedway has run continuously under the ownership and management of two generations of the Caruso family, providing entertainment, economic and financial rewards to the Oswego area. The achievement was lauded by all. A flag, which had flown over the capital in Washington, DC, was among the items offered to the Caruso family for their hard work, dedication and stamina.

Special guests on hand included the Caruso family and many of the longtime track officials and track safety crew, who have contributed to the well-oiled machinery of the speedway.

Many of the sponsors, who have helped provide the necessary backing during the many years of racing at Oswego, such as Coca-Cola and Eagle Beverage, distributors of Anheuser-Busch products, were also feted. The many media representatives on hand were also recognized for their undying efforts to bring the racing news to the public and among them were representatives of the Syracuse Newspapers, the Palladium Times, The Valley News, the Oswego County Weeklies, Gater Racing News and local radio and television stations.

But, the most important guests honored were the drivers and car owners who have all contributed their time and talent, and some their lives, to make Oswego Speedway the success it has become. Famous names - past and present - filled the room with nostalgia. The Bellingers, Abolds, John Benson Sr., Chuck Ciprich, Warren Coniam, Kempton Dates, Joe Gosek, Greg Furlong, Tim Gareau, Steve and Don Gioia, Keith Gilliam, Bob Goutermout, Joe Magari, Mike Muldoon, "Irish" Jack Murphy, Norm Mackereth, Dave McKnight Sr., the Matczaks, Jamie Moore, Dick Mangus, Jim Paternoster, Mike Ordway, Howie Page, Nolan Swift and Bill Wright, Ron Wallace, Jeff West and Leona Shampine Barnett, were among the racing legends that attended. A video, prepared by Oswego County Video, highlighting the first 50 years of the speedway, ending with one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the track, the 1983 Classic. With the Bellinger family all on hand, the excitement emanated from the screen once again. Even the non-racers in the crowd, applauded what they knew was the true meaning of the sport - the thrill of victory.

The luncheon was followed soon thereafter by a parade of past and present racing representatives, which proceeded from the west side of Oswego to the Oswego Speedway grounds. A Party in the Pits concluded the day's activities with many fans lining up for autographs of the many personalities on hand. A giant 50th anniversary cake from Cakes Galore, was well-received by young and old, along with the Super Cruise cars and the live music by the Swivel Rockers. And, no rain fell, thanks to someone up there!

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jack Murphy