|3b George Bishoff
63 Kenny Jacobs
80w Dave Wickham,
Parts Peddler car
|Racing at the fairgrounds at Syracuse dates back to the early 1900's
making it the 2nd or 3rd oldest continuously operated race track in the US.
Each year the local stock cars would race at the mile as well as the Big
Cars, (ie, dirt champ cars, now silver crown or silver bullet). All the Indy
greats came to Syracuse because those dirt miles were part of the USAC
national championship for Indy cars. The big names in east coast stock cars
came to race at the fairgrounds for the money and prestige. They only ran races
once a year on the track and that made the events there very special.
When the dirt champ cars were dropped in the �70s, sprint cars were brought in and
added to the very successful Super Dirt Series for DIRT Modifieds. The large
purse, big crowd of fans and cars and the high speeds have always made the
Syracuse Fairgrounds a highly revered place.
As a sprint car driver, the lure of Syracuse was undeniable. Knowing the
history and having seen history made at that track made it very special for me. As I
got more experience on the mile and my equipment got better I started run
better there. When they first ran sprints, it was with Pennsylvania rules; unlimited
motors and no wings, then with 16 sqft wings. We did ok considering we were using a 355 motor
against big blocks and other stretched small blocks. When the race became a
full outlaw sanction they went to 25 sqft wings and a front wing and 410 cubic inch small blocks and that
made a big difference. The cars were more stable and much faster.
The first year they raced with big wings, we went there with a good
Hutter motor and our notes from previous years. We went to the tire truck
and sorted through all the tires to get exactly the 2 3/4 inches of stagger that had
worked for us in the past.
On the track the car didn't work and we
didn't know what was wrong. We didn't get much practice and in qualifying, the car
was loose and pushy and just wouldn't get through the turns. I had to tip-toe through the turns and timed about 50th. That put us about 24th in the 30 car B-main. Before the race we talked to Brad Doty who had timed about the
same as us and was starting a few rows
in front of me. They didn't know what to do either but he said that the guys up front were using 6 inches of stagger
|6 inches of stagger on a mile track seemed excessive but we had to give it a try.|
|and he was going to try it. That was good enough for me so we went to the
tire truck and put on a smaller left rear for the race.
The B was only 10 laps and when they dropped the green I drove the car into one and it stuck. When I got on the throttle the car was on rails and I passed a couple of cars coming out of two. Brad was moving to the front and Bobby Allen, who also qualified poorly was ahead of him. I made my way through traffic and ended up 5th and transferred to the back of the A-main. We were excited about how well the car was working now and got a new right rear for the race. When the green dropped, I drove into one, taking it easy from about 35th and in front of me the whole row of cars drifted up off the guard rail. I couldn't believe it. My car stuck so well that I picked up the throttle and passed about 6 cars in one. Then coming out of two I got inside of another and passed another
|going into three. The track was unusually good and had two grooves. I was amazed when I was able to pass a car on the outside in two and drive around cars on the outside in three and four.
That day was fun. Passing about one car each turn, I was up
to 12th going into three, several car lengths behind Kenny Jacobs. I went in on the
inside guard rail and Kenny ended up getting his right rear into the loose cushion. He stayed
on it and was sideways throwing a rooster tail all around three and four. I had my
foot down and caught him just as we exited the 4th turn. When he hit the
straightaway his car hooked up and whipped sideways toward me and slapped
my right front tire.
That knocked me sideways, looking straight at the pit entrance near the 4th turn.
Kenny went on ok but I locked the brakes waiting for the RR to dig in or the
car to hit the inside wall but I was in the wet, unpacked inside of the track
and it just slid sideways in the greasy mud... the whole length of the front
|straight, all the way to the pit exit near the first turn where it finally tapped the inside wall and blew the LF tire.
ESPN showed me sitting there but missed a good shot of
that long slide. They towed me in and replaced the tire and I went back out,
several laps down.
What a disappointment not to finish that great run but we were still proud of our shoestring operation being able to run that well, against some of the best, at one of the biggest races of the year!
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