Tag Archives: Dan Johnson

Around The Asphalt: May 19, 2012

by Dan Johnson

Kenny Rogers may have put it best when he sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them”.

In the thousands of columns I have written, this will be undoubtedly be one of the toughest. Within the last week or so, I sent my “retirement” letter to Oswego Speedway.

I am one of the lucky ones. Growing up in Oswego, all I ever wanted to do was write about Oswego Speedway. Yeah, I know that’s pretty boring by today’s standards, but that’s 100 percent true.

As a kid, I couldn’t wait until Thursday, so I could spend my allowance and go to Garafalo’s and get the Eagle program, read it cover to cover, especially the Iver the Driver column.

From the Buccaneer Bulletin to the Oswego County Messenger to Auto Rac’r Magazine, those outlets gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet and see if that’s what I really wanted to do. Bill Foley took me under his wing and showed me the do’s and don’ts of race reporting. I always wanted to be like Bill and hoped he approved of how I put to use what he taught me.

My break came in 1990 when Carol Haynes suggested to the Caravan family to take a chance on this unproven guy to write about Oswego Speedway for The Valley News. My first night as a writer was the night we lost AJ Michaels. Talk about baptism by fire. It was game on from there, and the rest, they say, is history.

For over 20 years, twice a week, it was off to the computer to write about the people, machines, and stories from Oswego Speedway.

Even though it started with a typewriter and twice a week trips to Fulton to drop off copy before the days of computers, fax machines and e-mails, I was living the dream, never missing a deadline.

I cant thank the Caravan family nearly enough for the chance they took and the belief they had in a guy that grew up blocks from the racetrack.

Still writing for the Valley News, the next step came about in 1997 when Carol again took a chance and hired me to write for the Eagle program. How cool was that? To receive the chance to write the same column that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on as a kid was unbelievable.

Carol, George, John, and everyone at Speedway Press, and Mitchell’s Speedway Press, thank you so much for letting me live out my dream. Honestly, I couldn’t believe I’ve written for the Eagle for 15 years. That time has flown by.

The next step in the progression came days into the Pat Furlong-Steve Gioia ownership of the speedway, when again, the administration in control took a wild chance.

I still may have the e-mail I received from Steve Pryor asking me to be the infield announcer.  Really? Never thought of doing that, but, like I told my kids, take a chance and try things, you never know what may happen.

It was a great ride and had the time of my life with the best seat in the house. Doing the walk through Classic Weekend was both terrifying and satisfying. I can’t tell you how cool it is when the drivers, buckled up in their cars minutes before the start of their biggest race of the year, either give me a smile and the thumbs up or try to mess me up and get me to laugh. That journey every year was priceless.

Everyone knows the drivers at Oswego and all the fans have their favorites. All the drivers there are my favorites. They are an incredible bunch to work with, and to a man, they went out of their way to help me.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397 

Top three – Otto Sitterly (right), Davey Hamilton (center) and Brian Sobus (left) finished in first, second, and third place, respectively. It was Sitterly’s 21st career win and fourth opening night win. –Valley News photo by John Ferlito

Veteran drivers claim wins at Oswego Speedway

Top three – Otto Sitterly (right), Davey Hamilton (center) and Brian Sobus (left) finished in first, second, and third place, respectively. It was Sitterly’s 21st career win and fourth opening night win. –Valley News photo by John Ferlito

by Dan Johnson

Veteran drivers Otto Sitterly and Jay Andrews took checkered flags on opening night at Oswego Speedway Saturday.

Sitterly snuck the lead away from David Gruel with four laps to go in the 50-lap supermodified race and drove away for the win while Andrews led from lap 2 and went on for career win number two in the SBS division.

Brian Sobus and David Gruel led the 25 supermodifieds to the green flag with Gruel getting the bite on the outside taking the lead. The outside line got the better start.

While Gruel led, outside row 2 starter Davey Hamilton followed him through and ran in Gruel’s tire tracks early on.

Joe Gosek and Randy Ritskes went to the high side to get through early race traffic while Jeffrey Abold and Michael Barnes went low to move forward. A pair of early cautions slowed the race early on with pit stops abundant during the slowdown. The most significant pit stop saw defending champ Joe Gosek pull the 00 pitside as the steering went away on the 00.

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Around The Asphalt: May 5, 2012

by Dan Johnson

As we head into our 22nd year of going “Around the Asphalt,” there’s nothing like opening night.

There is anticipation of a new season. All the teams have been in the garage all winter working, getting ready to hit the track tonight. Everyone starts at square one; everyone starts the night even in the points.

Driver and teams have dreams that this will be their year. Tonight, we start the four-month journey towards the 2012 track championship. Opening night is sensory overload.

Sight. All the cars are aerodynamically sound, freshly painted, and have that jaw-dropping look about them. Is there anything as cool looking as a spit-shined supermodified?

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New car and new ideas for Oswego Speedway’s Steven Gioia III

by Dan Johnson

Garages all around Central New York are in full thrash mode as racing season gets closer and closer.

Teams competing at Oswego Speedway have May 5 circled on their calendars as the gates to the Steel Palace swing open that day for its 62nd consecutive year of racing.
Teams, officials and fans alike are anxiously awaiting Opening Day No. 62 at Oswego Speedway as the supermodifieds and SBS classes headline a full summer of activity at the lakeside oval.

In those 62 years of racing, the Gioia family name has been around the speedway possibly more than any other family.

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Oswego Speedway: Dave Danzer hopes 2012 continues where 2011 left off

by Dan Johnson

With opening day at Oswego Speedway fast approaching, teams are putting the finishing touches on their winter projects, trying to be in top form for when the speedway’s gates swing open May 5.

While some are looking for a clean slate to start 2012, there is one who would like to pick up in 2012 where he left off in 2011.

If there was one driver that didn’t want to see the 2011 Novelis supermodified season end at Oswego Speedway, it had to be Dave Danzer, driver of the family owned #52.

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