Oswego Supermodified Team Gets Jet Power for 2008
By Bob Gangwer
Oswego NY 12/30/07…Supermodifieds are known as “The Ultimate Short Track Race Car”, and for long time car owners Pat and Terry Strong of Scriba, NY, that term will take on a new meaning for their supermodified team in 2008 by hiring one of the “Ultimate” short track open wheel race car drivers in the country.
The Strong team is pleased to announce that they will have Joe Payne, Jr. of Fairlawn, NJ behind the wheel of their potent Burke’s Do It Best Home Center, Scriba Meats, Jake’s Automotive. Lighthouse Lanes sponsored supermodified for select shows throughout the 2008 season.
“I’m excited to see what Joey can do with our car,” began Pat Strong. “I believe we have a car that is capable of winning and this is an opportunity for me to put someone in the car who can give me a lot advice and feedback about what the car needs to get to the front.”
Strong went on to explain, “In reality I’m getting down to the end of my career as it’s been about 16 years. Joey and I get along very well, in fact he’s driven for me before, but I couldn’t afford him even though I always thought he’d do well in our car. So now we are going to go have some fun, run where we want to and where his schedule will allow and hopefully we can give him a non-wing supermodified win.”
That non-wing supermodified win that Strong spoke of is something that can only come at the legendary Oswego Speedway on the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego, NY. This fast 5/8 mile pavement racetrack is rightfully known as “The Home of the Supermodifieds” and through the years has produced some of the best short track racers in the country, It is where Strong has based his racing for most of his years as a crew member and car owner and is now the only short track in the country that runs the non-wing supermodifieds weekly as its featured class. For supermodified drivers, a win at Oswego is considered the highlight of their career, and puts them in an elite class of drivers who have conquered “The Lady in Grey.”
“It’s going to be nice to come back to Oswego and do some racing,” said Payne. “I’ve won there in a midget and in a winged super with ISMA, (the International Supermodified Association), in 1998, but the thing I want most on my resume now is a feature win at Oswego in a non-wing supermodified, and obviously I’d like at least one of those wins to be the International Classic,” expressed the 2 time American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association, (ATQMRA), champion and former NorthEastern Midget Association, (NEMA), champion.
Payne, who is affectionately known as “The Jersey Jet” by his fans, has been out of a regular supermodified ride for several years. He will continue to focus on his NEMA midget ride owned by Gene Angelillo, a ride in which he took second in NEMA points in 2007. He will also have the car at his disposal when NEMA runs at Oswego Speedway, and same weekend that the International Supermodified Association runs there. Payne is twice a runner-up in championship points of that sanctioning body and has over 25 winged supermodified wins to his credit.
“Right now the plan is to not pick one over the other, but to go and have fun and win some races with and without the wing, and if that means there’s an ISMA show on the same day as a NEMA show then we will probably put the wing on and take the car for Joey to run,” stated Strong. “I think it’s important to continue to support Oswego, but Terry and I are also at the point that we just want to go where we want to go and race when we want to race and with Joey. I know we are going to have some fun as well as be a threat to win when we take the car out of the garage.”
As of now, Payne will have a car that is more than capable of doing what Strong envisions. The car that “The Jersey Jet” will pilot was originally built by Jeff West in the mid 1990’s as cross leaf spring car, but has gone through several transformations throughout the years. It is now a car that features inboard coil over shocks and a potent Doug Holmes big block engine.
“Pat and the team did what they needed to do to make the car competitive with or without a wing, and I know it’s a car that can win because Bentley, (Warren), got a Classic win in that car,” stated Payne.
Strong, who has had a veritable who’s who of supermodified racers pilot his cars over the years, stated that the recent rule changes at Oswego Speedway concerning shocks and independent suspensions had little if anything to do with his decision to go on the road more often in 2008. “I don’t think the rule changes will be an issue with Joe as he can carry a car regardless of whether it’s independent or straight axle, and frankly our car was pretty close to the new rules anyway so basically it was just a matter of timing for both of us to get to do what we had talked about for some time.”
When asked if he will have the car at Oswego when Payne is unavailable to drive due to other commitments, Strong answered, “I’ll be at Oswego weekly with Mike Casey, whether I have the 99 there, well that’s kind of up to Joe, we are committed to him and I don’t want to wreck the car with someone else in it and not have it available for him to race.”
As the bells for the New Year ring, Pat and Terry Strong are hoping that having “Jet Power” in their Plum Crazy Strong Racing machine will be just what the team needed to give supermodified fans something to talk about in 2008.