1979 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 5 days remaining until the International Classic, the countdown continues with No. 5, featuring the iconic last ride of Jim Shampine’s rear engine 8-ball at Oswego Speedway with Canadian Warren Coniam at the controls in the 1979 International Classic.
Going into the ’79 Classic, Shampine had a decision to make as to whether he would drive the rear engine 8-ball, or his winning front engine radical offset machine in the 200.
Shampine chose to drive the front engine roadster, tabbing 1977 International Classic champion Coniam to drive the pusher.
With 50 laps complete it was an all Shampine leader board, with Jim leading in the front engine and Warren riding second in the rear engine.
However, on lap 74 John Spencer spun his machine directly in front of the leaders and Shampine moved low to avoid.
Unfortunately, Shampine clipped Spencer and had to head to the pits with front end damage.
Coniam missed the incident, but also headed to pit lane for a scheduled fuel stop, and lost a lap to the leaders in the process.
When Coniam came back onto the track one lap down, he fully unleashed the speed and amazing capabilities of the ‘Green Machine.’
Within 40 laps, Coniam flew past everyone on the race track to get his lap back, and then started coming back through the field one more time.
Coniam was passing two and three cars at a time with the Shampine rear engine, and supermodified fans were watching another new supermodified evolution in front of their very own eyes.
By lap 160 Coniam had flown by Dave Shullick for second, then chased down leader Chuck Ciprich, screaming by him as well on lap 169 to take the lead.
All the while, Coniam’s teammate and car owner Shampine could be seen from the first corner, cheering his driver to the lead.
However, a Cinderella finish was not in the making, because when Coniam pitted for fuel he also cracked the oil tank on his racer.
Oil began to leak from the “6-Ball” rear engine, and on lap 185 Coniam was black flagged from the lead, ending his amazing come from behind run.
Instead it was Ciprich driving to Classic victory lane in Ron Buckner’s No. 36 for the second consecutive year.
After such a dominating performance by another of Shampine’s revolutionary creations, 1979 would mark the final year of rear engine supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway.
Shullick held on for the runner-up finish ahead of Doug Heveron, Joe Paeno, and Jim Cheney in the top five.
Dick Batchelder, Gary Allbritain, Mike Rizzo, Denny Wheeler, and Bobby Stelter finished the top ten in ’79.
To purchase tickets for Budweiser International Classic Weekend and the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200, call the Speedway’s box office today at (315) 342-0646.
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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.
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