1997 Budweiser International Classic
OSWEGO, NY (August 25, 2014) – As the countdown officially begins toward the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway on Sunday, August 31, we look back at the Top 30 moments in International Classic history, with the help of George Caruso’s 50 Most Memorable Moments of the International Classic.’
With 6 days remaining until the International Classic, the countdown continues with No. 6, the 1997 International Classic which saw IndyCar star Davey Hamilton inherit the lead after Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. collided while battling at the point.
The exciting conclusion to the 1997 International Classic all got started with 10 laps to go.
Doug Didero, driving the Matczak No. 3, had a seemingly insurmountable lead, only to run out of fuel. This gave the point to Muldoon, who was in a tight three car battle with Bellinger and his own teammate Hamilton, both of whom had fresher tires.
Bellinger had made a pit stop for a right rear tire at lap 110, but could not get the shoe off of the race car. With the issues, Bellinger returned to the Speedway, only to come back to pit road for a successful stop on lap 123.
Hamilton waited until around lap 140 to make his tire stop, driving Muldoon’s second car.
Muldoon himself had decided to go the entire distance on one set of tires, and was gingerly trying to hang onto the lead.
As the trio came out of turn four to receive the white flag, they came upon the lap car of Tim Gareau.
Muldoon hesitated for a split second to figure out which way to go and Bellinger immediately headed to the outside lane to try and pin Muldoon behind the lapper. Simultaneously, Muldoon decided the high lane was the road better traveled, and as a result Bellinger and Muldoon came together spinning down the front straight, knocking each of them out of the action.
Hamilton made a sharp left turn to avoid the accident, and inherited the lead of the Classic.
Hamilton would go on to defend the top spot through a green-white-checkered finish over runner-up Jeff West.
The crowd reaction was certainly mixed, and no doubt emotional. The legion of Bellinger fans was distraught, with the No. 02 being denied a sixth Classic victory, as he neared the end of his Hall of Fame career.
On the other side, there were several fans elated with a Hamilton victory, as he had been ‘taken in’ as one of Oswego’s own over the course of the past few Classic runs.
Russ Wood, Pat Abold, and Dave Shullick Sr. chased Hamilton and West across the line in the top five of the ’97 Classic.
Late Model regular Dave Heitzhaus, Gary Morton, Didero, Steve Gioia Jr., and Todd Stowell completed the top ten.
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About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full-blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.