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Wing Side Up Archive: Harry Caruso Is Gone, 1993 Nationals Preview


I’ve included the scans of the notes for this column. If you can read them, they’ll hopefully give you a better picture of trying to write a weekly column. This Wing Side Up Archive Column  was written for the August 2, 1993 MARC Times Racing News. We have crossed through the old address, website and phone number. BG

Wing Side Up

By Bob Gangwer

August 2, 1993 – Goshen, IN…The International Supermodified Association’s winged warriors terrorized the Oswego Speedway tar last Saturday night for their second appearance in as many years, and although nobody broke the 15 second barrier, the racing action kept the fans’ attention.

To most of those enthralled enthusiasts, Steve Gioia looked like he was going to pull down his second Oswego and first ISMA feature of the year. The driver of the Don Rammage owned car had brought his Baby Ruth sponsored machine to the front, but once again those mechanical gremlins put the whoa on the go and Steve dropped out of contention while leading.

Mike Ordway then took over the point and it looked like a Paul Dunigan owned car was going to be in victory lane for the second year in a row. That is until Pat Abold in his Coke machine snookered the New England veteran by boxing him in behind lapped traffic and holding him off for the duration of the race.

“The Bull” held on for second followed by Gary Morton, (who picked up some much-needed extra cash for winning the dash), Cliff Graves and pole sitter Joey Moriarty.

Harry Caruso Is Gone-

The evening’s racing festivities were run under an umbrella of sadness as the man responsible for much of the success of the supermodified division, Harry Caruso passed away last Friday. Caruso, who along with his brothers George Sr. and Bill created the Oswego Speedway way back in 1951 from the run down Wine Creek horse track, had suffered from numerous illnesses including Alzheimer’s for several years and died of pneumonia at age 82.Most of the competitors that have thrilled the crowds at that fast 5/8 on East Albany down through the years had, at one time or another, not always seen eye to eye with the late Mr. Caruso. Even so, they all know that if it weren’t for him and his foresight back in 1962, they, and we, would probably not have the supermodifieds as we know and love them today.

SEE PHOTOS OF ALL OF THE CARUSO BROTHERS

Granted the Michigan cars of Art Bennett and Gordon Johncock actually started the supermodified revolution, but it was Caruso who perpetuated it by embracing the so-called “bugs” and booting the run-of-the-mill modified stock cars and making the supers his regular weekly division.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Harry for his vision and will miss him sitting in that chair on the roof of the front grandstand. Rest in Peace Mr. Caruso.

Oswego Notes-

A couple of notes from Oswego: Howie Page won the consi and was preparing to celebrate when the crew noticed that the car had started leaking oil while in victory lane. The crew made repairs and got Howie out for the feature but he only made several laps before pulling in and calling it a night. We hope that Howard’s luck will be better this weekend, because it’d do nothing but tickle us pink to see Howie pull down a good finish at Nationals.

Bill Sharkey got a big but unwanted surprise when he refueled his #52 just before his heat. Bill had run very good in practice but when he went to push-off for this heat the car wouldn’t fire. After BIll and the Craig Danzer crew did some checking, they discovered that what they were pouring into the car was not methanol, but was actually water. They drained the tank, blew out all the fuel lines, and managed to get the car ready to run for the consi. Fortunately Bill made the show but you can bet Craig Danzer will be tracking down his Buffalo, NY fuel source to have a word or two.

Bentley Warren, Jim Shirey and surprise entrant Jeff Bloom were all victims of engine woes. Although we’re not sure of the cause, we understand Bentley blew his engine in practice. He did get a ride in Jeff West’s car for the rest of the evening.

Shirey blames the hole in the side of his brand new big block on a spun bearing. This is a big disappointment to Jim as he was feeling very confident that this engine would be the one that would help him crack the top ten at Oswego. Jim’s sweetheart Stephanie informs us that Jim will be working every night in trying to get another engine together for Nationals. She said it looks very promising for Saturday, but that Friday night is still up in the air.

USAC star Jeff Bloom didn’t elaborate about what exactly kept him from going less than his usual blistering pace, but he did say he doubts we’ll see him in the car until the Dawson team can get the problems solved. Jeff was very frustrated after making the drive for his first ever visit to Oswego, just to sit and watch the cars go by. The “rookie” super driver told us that even though he didn’t get to turn any real practice laps, because of the hub rail at Oswego, he was reminded of running the Champ car on the mile tracks. He went on to say, “It might intimidate some guys, but it’s no big deal.” We’re not surprised. Jeff is scheduled to run the Saturday Night Thunder show at Winchester this weekend, but is waiting on his sprint car engine that was damaged while being freshened up out west.  It was apparently dropped which didn’t do the injection or mag much good. “If push comes to shoe, we’ll probably run the super (at Sandusky),” he went on to say.

Larry Gibson informs us that he will be in Tom Sawyer’s sprint car this Saturday at Winchester. Big brother Gene Lee will be at Nationals with the super so this left the sprint car seat unoccupied. This will be Larry’s first race back at Winchester since his hair-raising meeting with that immovable slab of concrete that circles the big banks a couple of years back in Todd’s super. It will also mark the first time in two years that Larry’s been in a sprint car. Best of luck good friend.

Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals Preview-

It’s time to get the bags packed and the camera loaded for the quick run to the Buckeye State this weekend. Like the munchkin in the candy store, we can hardly contain our excitement in anticipation of the asphalt assault by the ISMA supers the weekend at the Sandusky Speedway.

If you’ve been jonesin’ for a super show here’s your chance to cleanse your palette of the ordinary and add a little spice to your life. Besides, there’s no good reason that you should miss the Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals if you’re a true super groupie. With Sandusky taking a week off, and not much destruction at Oswego last Saturday, there should be a very good turnout of cars for this year’s additions. We figure around 35 is a safe bet.

As far as picking a winner, it’s hard to bet against Pat Abold. He’s the defending champion of this race plus he’s won the last three out of five ISMA shows. No doubt about Bentley or teammate Mike Ordway running up front either. Joe Gosek could be a threat, so could Russ Wood.

Doug Saunier at Sandusky Speedway 1993 ISMA Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals
A 1993 “Wing Side Up” shot of Doug Saunier at Sandusky Speedway.

We all know how well Doug Saunier has done at Sandusky. Actually that’s an understatement. He’s been like a piranha in the goldfish bowl, but can he go the distance? “The Shoe” will be hot as long as he can avoid the slower cars and stay out of trouble. Gene Lee is really pumped after getting the car sorted out during tire tests a week ago and says the car has more than the 15.2s he tested at.

Ok, who will it be? Here’s the Wing Side Up Top Five:

  1. Pat Abold
  2. Bentley Warren
  3. Joe Gosek
  4. Dave Shullick
  5. Mike Ordway

Our dark horse pick for the win is Gary Allibritain.

Friday night’s winner will be a Sandusky regular. We think you’ll see either Doug Saunier or Gene Lee Gibson take the checkers first.

Speaking of Friday, gates open at 1pm with racing getting underway at 8. Saturday gates open at 11am with the 16th Annual Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals festivities slated to get going at 7pm.

MIke Calinoff assures us of a pre-race extravaganza that will “rival those of Humpy Wheeler.” That’s all we could get out of him so it must be something big.

Next week we’ll have results plus the answer to the Nationals Knowledge contest. Bob Markos says that the Northern Indiana Supermodified Fan Club will be out in force and will award a case of Old Style to some deserving driver. No doubt, Bob and cohorts will be awarding each other with a couple twelve ouncers too!

We’re packing the pail and getting ready to kick the bucket at Johnny Angel’s this weekend from 18234 CR 22 Goshen, IN 46526. Hope to meet a bunch of new friends this weekend as well as see the old standbys. Remember, my faithful and fellow super groupies, on the way to Sandusky this weekend drive slow, drink milk, and most importantly, “Keep It Wing Side Up and Wheels to the Ground.”

What is your favorite Harry Caruso memory?  Leave a comment below to share it with everyone.

 

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