Outlaw Speedway will host Summer Nationals Friday and Saturday, welcoming several divisions in addition to hosting a number of makeup features. The busy weekend of racing includes the Modified, 360 Sprint, Crate Sportsman, Street Stock, IMCA, 4-Cylinder and Hobby Stock divisions.

Friday’s card includes makeup features for the American Racer Tire Outlaw Speedway 602 Sportsman Series, along with last-chance qualifiers and features for Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and 4-Cylinders.

While the Sportsman field is set, there remain four open spots on the Street Stock grid. There are four starting positions in the 4-Cylinder field. The Hobby Stocks need to fill in 12 spots open.

And, a special, 15-lap Modified dash will set the front row for Saturday’s feature in that division.

The track also will be open to any cars interested in running hot laps ahead of Saturday’s action.

Saturday’s card will be highlighted by the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints and DIRTcar Modifieds. There is another installment of Outlaw Speedway American Racer Tire Sportsman Series action. The Street Stock, IMCA, Outlaw-style 4-Cylinder and Hobby Stock divisions are part of the program, also.

“Generally speaking, two-day events are something reserved for later in the race season, but with the staff that I have here at the track we can pull this thing off right in the middle of the summer,” Outlaw owner Tyler Siri said. “It is going to require a lot of man hours over the two days, including a tremendous amount of race-surface preparation for both days as well as organization in the pits, camping and grandstand parking areas.

“There is no doubt with the number of classes we have racing the pits will be overflowing both nights,” Siri continued. “All the classes are racing for big bucks, especially on Saturday night, and over the two days of competition the total purse will be enormous. With the variety of classes that are competing there is something there for every taste.”

A disc jockey will spin tunes after Friday’s racing concludes, while a chicken barbecue is part of Saturday’s docket.

General admission Friday is $13. On Saturday, general admission is $25. Friday’s racing begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s action commences at 6:30 p.m.

Summer Nationals marks the first of three doubleheader events at Outlaw in 2019. The Fall Nationals are Sept. 20-21, while the annual Dutch Hoag Memorial Triple 7 Weekend is Oct. 18-19.

For more, visit www.outlawspeedwayllc.com.

Thomas to receive Fusco Media Award

Longtime track announcer, writer, videographer and producer Mel Thomas will be honored with the 2019 Andrew S. Fusco Award for Media Excellence during Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame ceremonies Thursday in Weedsport.

“It is an honor to receive this award named for Andy,” Thomas said. “Andy and I were involved at the start of Glenn’s (Donnelly) television career, along with (announcers) Jack Burgess and Joe Marotta.”

Thomas, who grew up watching races at Airborne Park, Fort Covington and Saranac Lake speedways, served in the Navy from 1966-70. He studied electronics and radio communications, and eventually worked in communication centers in Saigon and the Mekong Delta with river patrol forces. He ultimately stayed in the Naval Reserves for 18 years, and retired with 22 years of service to his credit.

He went on to work with GTE Sylvania, GM Rochester Products and the Geneva City School District.

Thomas broke into civilian media with his first radio program, “The Pit Stop,” in 1976 on WACK Radio in Arcadia. From there, Waterloo Speedway promoter Dominic Tantillo asked Thomas to oversee public relations for his speedway.

Thomas talked that year with Glenn Donnelly, inquiring about taping races. Using a black-and-white camera and projector, Thomas would tape races at Weedsport, then replay them in the clubhouse. When Canandaigua Speedway was added to the taping schedule, it was the birth of “This Week on Dirt.” Footage was pieced together and the show was taped for local cable TV in Canandaigua. Fonda Speedway came on board shortly thereafter.

Andy Fusco, Jack Burgess and Joe Marotta eventually joined the video teams. Thomas helped engineer the first two-camera production of the 1979 Super DIRT Week after Fusco pitched the idea, which ultimately led to ESPN covering the race in 1980. It has been broadcast nationally since.

Thomas worked on Trackwide Hi-Lites at WGVA Radio in Geneva with Don Dunham, and has been an announcer at several speedways, including Ransomville, Dundee and Paradise.

He also used to pen the “Area Motorsports” column for the Finger Lakes Times.

Thomas Video Productions expanded in the 1980s, and began building the library that now includes hundreds of hours of coverage from tracks around the Northeast.

After training his sons at Thomas Video production, each went on to have careers in the field. Michael works at WCCB-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and Matt is employed in the IT-Video department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Matt works closely with DIRTvision programming as well.

Mel Thomas helped spur DIRTvision forward, leveraging the budding internet for audio-only coverage before it exploded into the multi-camera streaming entity it is now. Mel and Matt Thomas joined with Art Rorick to form raceflix.com, which offers live footage in addition to archived content from the 1980s through to the 2000s.

Thomas’ efforts were recognized by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association in 2013. At the time, Thomas said it was the most meaningful of the accolades he’s collected.

Weekly & upcoming

SUNDAY

Utica-Rome Speedway

Matt Janczuk collected his third Sportsman checkered flag of the year. Luke Horning earned his second straight Pro Stock triumph, while Bobby Heintz broke through for his first Novice Sportsman win.

SATURDAY

Land of Legends Raceway

Matt Sheppard scored another Modified win, his sixth of the year at the Ontario County Fairgrounds oval. He topped Justin Haers, Billy Dunn, Kyle Coffey and Justin Wright. Haers was racing with a heavy heart, having lost his father, Jerry, earlier in the week.

Erik Karlsen captured the CRSA Sprint feature, edging out David Ferguson, Jesse Pruchnik, Jeff Trombley and John Scarborough.

Ricky Newton took the Sportsman feature over Frank Guererri Jr., Matt Guererri, CJ Casteletti and Andrew Smith. Zach Payne triumphed in the Sportsman B-main.

Jimmy Grant won the Street Stock feature over Marc Minutolo, Quinn Sutherland, Mike Welch and Adam DePuy.

Meanwhile, Steve Pesarek was recognized last week with induction onto the Land of Legends Wall of Fame. Pesarek has amassed 63 in his time racing at Canandaigua. A seven-time track champion at Land of Legends, he was the first driver to win the Mr. DIRT Street Stock championship.

With more than 100 wins to his credit, Pesarek returned to racing after a 12-year break, winning once in 2013 before taking seven checkered flags in 2015. He has added three wins since then, and also won once in a Crate Late Model.

Milt Johnson and Gary Montgomery were added to the Land of Legends Wall of Fame earlier this year.

Land of Legends will open for a special Wednesday program this week as part of the county fair. It will be closed on its regular Saturday date.

The rescheduled Cabin Fever 40 is slated for Wednesday night. The card also includes double-points races for the 305 Sprints and Street Stocks.

Racing begins at 7 pm.

Oswego Speedway

Dave Gruel rules the 75-lap Mr. Supermodified event, picked up a $10,000 paycheck on his 37th birthday. He held off a torrid attack from Dave Danzer. Otto Sitterly charged to third ahead of Tyler Thompson and Dave Shullick.

Stephen Duphily won the inaugural Mr. 350 Supermodified feature, making him 2-for-2 in the division this season.

David LaTulip nabbed the Mr. Small Block Supermodified feature over Josh Sokolic and Greg O’Connor.

Fulton Speedway

The track closed in lieu of the triple-figure heat index on Saturday.

FRIDAY

Outlaw Speedway

The Dundee track enjoyed a scheduled off week ahead of this weekend’s Summer Nationals.

Brewerton Speedway

The regularly scheduled program was called off due to the excessive heat.

Touring

Super DIRTcar Series

The series was rained out Thursday, negating its attempt to test the new surface at Middletown’s Orange County Fair Speedway in the Battle of the Midway 100. A makeup date has yet to be determined.

The series raced in Quebec last night at Autodrome Drummond. Another tour event is set for tonight at Autodrome Granby, also in Quebec.

This Sunday, the circuit heads to Weedsport Speedway, followed by Ohio dates July 30 at Sharon Speedway and July 31 at Eldora Speedway.

DIRTcar 358-Modified Series

On Sunday night, Erick Rudolph scored his third win of the year at Utica-Rome Speedway with a triumph in the 100-lap event. The two-time champion tracked down Mat Williamson and forged a winning pass before building a comfortable lead at the checkers. Pat Ward thundered to third ahead of Corey Wheeler and Billy Dunn.

Williamson came into the event on fire, having won three straight series events.

The tour is off until visiting Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway Aug. 20.

Patriot Sprint Tour

Jared Zimbardi prevailed Saturday at Brockville Ontario Speedway. He grabbed an early lead in the 25-lapper and pulled out to a solid edge. A quick pause on lap 13 reset the field, but Zimbardi streaked away when green conditions resumed for his first tour victory of 2019.

Steve Poirier, Jordan Poirier, Chris Jones and Paulie Colagiovanni followed

Empire Super Sprints

The tour was set to be part of the Northern Summer Nationals at Ohsweken Speedway today and Tuesday.

Chris Marquart’s “Motorsports” appears each Tuesday from April through October, and every other Tuesday from November through March. Contact him at (315) 729-3999 or smashedempirefilms@gmail.com.

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