From Oswego Speedway
OSWEGO, NY (November 5, 2017) – The Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center once again remained the host location for the Mitchell’s Speedway Press Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame Banquet held on Saturday, November 4 and this season it was time to crown a first-time track champion in Dave Shullick Jr. in the Supermodified division and now ‘three-time’ Dave Cliff in the Pathfinder Bank SBS class.
Following dinner and cocktail hour which began at 6pm, master of ceremonies Dan Kapuscinski kicked off the evening’s festivities with special award presentations which included the Ed Clark Spirit Award, Oswego Speedway Recognition Award, and the Lois Matczak Woman of the Year Award.
The Ed Clark Spirit Award was awarded to ‘the boss’ Paul Conzone of the Oswego Speedway Track Safety Crew for his dedication to Oswego Speedway. Last year’s recipient Mark Kapuscinski announced the award for Conzone, who is the leader of the dedicated team of safety crew members.
Longtime employee and avid speedway fan Bernie Finnigan was declared the winner of the Oswego Speedway Recognition Award, and the Lois Matczak Woman of the Year Award was given to the members of the Oswego Speedway 50/50 team.
Next up were the Car Owner and Crew of the Year Awards for the Supermodified and SBS divisions which were given to Chris Osetek, owner of the No. 55 Supermodified driven by Keith Shampine and Tom Aserud, owner of the Crow Motorsports No. 18 Small Block Super piloted by Andrew Schartner. The Proud Motorsports No. 54 team and Snyder Racing No. 0 crew were awarded ‘Crew of the Year’ awards courtesy of Jake’s Automotive for their efforts in 2017 for drivers Camden Proud and Tim Snyder.
Following the distribution of special awards, it was time to induct the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame Class of 2017 which features five new members, all of which were present at the banquet on Saturday evening.
First up was Russ Wood, a New Hampshire native who made his first Oswego appearance in the early 1980s. It was when Wood stormed onto the Supermodified scene as the pilot of the Jimmy Timmons No. 27 machine; which would soon become the familiar Shea Concrete Supermodified, that he really began to make a name for himself. It took several years of trying but it was in 1993 when Wood went to victory lane for the first of five times in his career. A multi-time ISMA champion and perhaps one of the most prolific winged Super drivers in history, Wood garnered eight ISMA championships throughout the course of his career and is one of only nine drivers to have wins in both the winged and non-winged Supers at Oswego.
Next up was Modified legend Jan Leaty who joined Richie Evans, Maynard Troyer, and Geoff Bodine as just a few of some of the biggest asphalt Modified names in Oswego’s Hall of Fame. Leaty first raced at the Big O in 1983, thirty one years to his final race at the ‘Steel Palace’ back in 2012. Most recently winning with the Race of Champions Tour in 2009, Leaty has seven Oswego wins and was also the first Richie Evans Memorial winner at the track in 1990. Leaty can still be found in the pits today, wrenching on his son Mike’s No. 25 car or working on the Patrick Emerling No. 07.
Bill Abold and family have been around Oswego Speedway for as long as anyone can remember and that is a big reason why he was the third inductee into the Hall of Fame Class of 2017. An Oswego pioneer, Abold first appeared on the grounds in 1958 in a partnership with John Pawlicki to run one of the vintage ‘Class B’ Modifieds. Since then his son Pat Abold, and grandsons Jeff Abold and Dave Gruel have all seen competition at the fast ⅝ mile. He’s ‘retired’ many times, but Abold has been around Oswego for 59 years and the soon to be 80 year-old can still be found in the pit area each and every Saturday night. Both generations of Abold, as well as Gruel, are multi-time victors in the Supermodified division and son Pat is known for his famous ‘outside groove.’ Jeff did something his father had never done in 2016, winning the 60th running of the Budweiser International Classic 200.
Final inductees Don Forbes and Jerry Kritzman are two of only six regular starters in Oswego Speedway history. Forbes was offered his first job at the Steel Palace back in 1977 by then track owner George Caruso. He has worked the first turn, third turn, and the safety trucks and when his predecessor Kritzman left to flag full-time with ISMA, the poles were handed over to Forbes. Since then, the Mexico native has never stopped. Despite missing a few nights here and there since taking his original position in the late 1970s, Forbes has over forty nonstop seasons of dedication at Oswego, something you just don’t see anymore.
Massachusetts born Kritzman moved to Oswego with his wife in 1971. He was in the US Coast Guard at the time, and Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway were their source of entertainment on the weekends. For the past 25 years, that has not changed one bit. Kritzman was offered a job from George Caruso Sr. shortly after he moved to New York thanks to a connection his father had with the family. Kritzman started as the second cornerman, moved to the first turn, and then found his way to the flagger’s stand after longtime starter Bruce Lee stepped away from his position. Kritzman kept that spot for six years, and he since has flagged for ISMA, while also serving as race director for the Supermodified touring series. Kritzman retired from that position in 2014, but if there is a Supermodified event nearby, you will almost certainly find Jerry in the pit area.
Forbes and Kritzman join Lee, Willy Hackett, Clyde Rowlee and Norm Bacon as the six full-time flaggers in Oswego history.
When hall of fame inductions concluded, before the top ten in Road to the Championship standings could be officially announced, there were two more special awards to be handed out in the Tony White Memorial Award courtesy of the White Family as well as the Joe Paeno Memorial Award.
SBS car owner Tim Proud was the recipient of the Tony White Memorial Award for his dedication to the sport and willingness to help others, while Otto Sitterly was declared winner of the Joe Paeno Memorial Award for his efforts both as a mechanic and driver in the Nicotra Racing Supermodified stable. Sitterly’s sportsmanship was also emphasized as a deciding factor in winning the award.
To conclude the ceremony, 2017 Novelis Supermodified Champion Dave Shullick Jr. and Pathfinder Bank SBS Champion Dave Cliff were officially awarded their honors. The top three drivers in the Road to the Championship standings for both divisions were also recognized with special plaques and season recap videos courtesy of Thomas Video Productions. Otto Sitterly and Keith Shampine were second and third in points for the Supermodifieds while Andrew Schartner and Camden Proud completed the top three for the SBS class.
Other top ten drivers were Jack Patrick, Dalton Doyle, Jesse Bearup, Kreig Heroth, Mike Bond, Greg O’Connor (Most Improved Driver) and Cameron Rowe in the SBS division as well as Michael Barnes, Joe Gosek, Jeff Abold, Brandon Bellinger, Dave Gruel, Tim Snyder, and Dan Connors Jr. in the Supermodifieds.
As seen in year’s past, the sound of Ron Gray’s Millennium Music capped off the evening’s festivities, which traditionally serve as a celebration of yet another successful season for Oswego Speedway.
Novelis Supermodified Top 10 Points: Dave Shullick Jr, Otto Sitterly, Keith Shampine, Michael Barnes, Joe Gosek, Jeff Abold, Brandon Bellinger, Dave Gruel, Tim Snyder, and Dan Connors Jr.
Pathfinder Bank SBS Top 10 Points: Dave Cliff, Andrew Schartner, Camden Proud, Jack Patrick, Dalton Doyle, Jesse Bearup, Kreig Heroth, Mike Bond, Greg O’Connor, and Cameron Rowe.
Mitchell’s Speedway Press Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame Class of 2017: Russ Wood Sr, Jan Leaty, Bill Abold, Don Forbes, Jerry Kritzman
Ed Clark Spirit Award: Paul Conzone
Oswego Speedway Recognition Award: Bernie Finnegan
Lois Matczak Woman of the Year Award: 50/50 Girls
Tony White Memorial Award: Tim Proud
Total Seal Joe Paeno Memorial Award: Otto Sitterly
Pathfinder Bank SBS Rookie of the Year: Tony Pisa
Novelis Supermodified Rookie of the Year: Logan Rayvals
Jake’s Automotive SBS Car Owner of the Year: Tom Aserud
Jake’s Automotive Supermodified Car Owner of the Year: Chris Osetek
Jake’s Automotive SBS Crew of the Year: Proud Motorsports
Jake’s Automotive Supermodified Crew of the Year: Snyder Racing
Pathfinder Bank SBS Most Improved Driver: Greg O’Connor
The schedule for the speedway’s 2018 campaign, which will serve as Oswego Speedway’s 68th consecutive season in operation, will be announced on Monday morning. Updated rule books for both divisions are also expected throughout the coming days. Full race night details and ticketing information will be announced in the weeks following the release of the schedule.
Opening Day at Oswego has already been slated for Saturday, May 26, 2018.
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