Story By: KENNY SHUPP / OUTLAW SPEEDWAY – DUNDEE, NY – The Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen, NY was the host site for the recently held Outlaw Speedway Banquet. Originally scheduled for late January, the event was pushed back to February 26, 2022, due to out of state funeral services for track owner, Tyler Siri’s father, Ted.
However, in typical Tyler Siri fashion the show did go on complete with cocktails followed by a mouthwatering prime rib buffet meal. After the capacity crowd had been fed, event co-emcee’s, Mel Thomas and Steven Ovens took control of the program in handing out the top ten awards and Rookie of the Year drivers in each of Outlaw Speedway seven regular weekly classes of competition.
The Hurricane, Steve Paine of Waterloo, NY took home the Friendly Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Modified Track Championship and the $5,000 check that went along with the title, his second under the track ownership of Siri and his eleventh at the facility dating back to the late 1990’s. Picking up two regular season feature wins, Paine was just barely able to squeak out the title over Bobby Varin by three points and The Doctor, Danny Johnson by six as the Tyler Siri owned cars finished second and third respectfully. Paine also won the Short Track Super Series event on May 11 at Outlaw which was his first ever in the series and one of the high points in his long and illustrious career. At the age of sixty, Payne still has all the right ingredients to compete and win and in addition to his 2021 Modified Track Championship he was even more proud of the success of his two sons who both compete weekly at the track. Oldest son, Billy was the 2019 Modified Rookie of the Year in the division and wound up tenth in the final 2022 Modified point standings. Tommy Paine was a top five-point getter in the American Racer Tire Division with more on him to come. Behind Paine, Varin and Danny Johnson in the points it was Kyle Coffey finishing fourth as he along with Paine, Varin and Johnson all accumulated two regular season point paying feature wins each. Brady Fultz rounded the top five including one late season feature victory. Tyler Siri, who wound up eighth in the final Modified point standings for 2021 had a pair of regular season feature wins as well as a September Fall Nationals Dash victory. Siri also picked up his first ever Dutch Hoag Memorial win in October and his three season long feature wins tied him with Paine for the most throughout the entire 2021 season. Other top ten Modified point finishers included Phil Vigneri III in sixth, Jim LaRock seventh, Siri in eighth, while Derrick Podsiadlo had one of his best point finishes ever at the track in claiming ninth while Billy Paine rounded out the top ten in the Friendly Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram Modified points. Cory Costa, who finished outside the top ten went on to claim one regular season feature win. Forty different race teams saw Mod Squad action at Outlaw during the regular 2021 race season.
With the youth movement in full force a pair of third generation pilots each picked up their first ever 602 Crate Sportsman Track Titles at Outlaw during 2021.
In the Sunrise Insulation American Racer Tire Sportsman Division and at the age of sixteen, Alex Payne rode his four trips to victory lane along with ten top five finishes to the title. For the Hopewell, NY speedster he had to fend off a slew of veterans and former Track Champions in Chris Fisher, Karl Comfort and Dale Welty who finished second, third and fifth respectfully. Of that trio of former champions, Fisher and Welty had one regular season feature win each. The earlier mentioned, Tommy Paine was rock solid all season and not only finished fourth in the decisive point tally he was also crowned the 2021 American Racer Tire Division Rookie of the Year after moving into the class from 2020 where he ran in the Hoosier Tire Sportsman Class. In addition to his regular season feature wins, Payne also found victory lane on the night the Short Track Super Series event on May 11 bringing his win total on American Racer Tires to five overall on the 2021 campaign. Six thru tenth included former Track Champion, Brian Fish and the seventh place point getter and newcomer, Ben Feldman. Veteran driver, Stacy Jackson came home eighth while yet another rookie in Justice Mayo nailed the ninth- place spot with veteran wheelman Greg Crooker rounded the top ten. Feldman and Crooker each had one single feature win during the regular season. Other feature winners that did not finish in the top ten included both the father son duo of Ajay Potrzebowski Sr. and Jr. along with Kreg and Carter Crooker and with that, both the brother to Greg (Kreg) and son (Carter) put all three of the racing Crookers into the Outlaw Speedway victory lane in 2021. In all fifty different drivers saw point paying action during the regular season.
In the Speed Connection DIRTcar Hoosier Tire 602 Sportsman Class it was another third- generation young hot shoe in Ajay Potrzebowski Jr picking up the title. With just one regular season victory on Hoosier Tires, Potrzebowski was able to win the title after a season long point battle with Alex Payne who did double duty running in both Sportsman Classes. Although Payne had four wins to just one for Ajay it was his week in week out consistency that won him his first ever Sportsman Title. Following Potrzebowski Jr. and Payne in the points it was Adam Hilton picking up three feature wins to claim third while AJ Lloyd and Tim Guild would each nail down one feature win to finish fourth and fifth respectfully. Veteran racer, Brent Ayers would go on to finish sixth while an impressive first season by Blake Parsons would not only land him seventh in the final regular season point tally, but he would also claim Rookie of the Year honors in the class after moving up from the Bandit Youth Division. Eighth place went to Bryan Rhodes while Steve Gray and Brandon Butler would complete the top ten. While not finishing in the top ten, Andrew Jacobson would however go on to find victory lane on one occasion in the Speed Connection Hoosier Tire DIRTcar Division. Thirty-two drivers competed on the Hoosier Tires in 2021.
For the second consecutive season and fourth in past five, Jasper, NY speedster, Glen Whritenour once again showed his prowess in claiming the Stan’s No Tubes Street Stock Championship. By virtue of eleven regular season feature wins, GW was in total domination of the class with 2019 class Track Champ, Dylan Cecce the only other regular season feature winner with three while competing on a limited basis. In addition to his Street Stock Titles, Whritenour is also a past Outlaw Speedway IMCA Modified Track Champion in 2017 placing him in an elite group of those claiming two track titles in the same season at the same venue while racing in two different divisions. Veteran competitor, Gene Sharpsteen tried to keep pace with GW, but had to settle for second in the final regular season points with local favorite, Jared Hill taking home third place hardware and money. Zach Teed and Tim Grady would round the top five with Grady also claiming Street Stock Rookie of the Year honors. Six thru tenth included Tony Cameron, Chuck Winslow, Adam Depuy, Gene Balmer with Dennis Cummings rounding the top ten in the final regular season point standings. Forty-eight different Street Stock drivers competed during the 2021-point season.
In the inaugural year for the Lane’s Yamaha 360 Sprint Division, it would be a six-race season shortened by a record seven full rainouts along with nights off due to outside sanctioning body touring events. However, even an abbreviated season would not deter from some truly outstanding competition the top four in the last point tally all making each point paying show. Paulie Colagiovanni would lead the points heading into the season ending double point finale, however an off night by Colagiovanni coupled with great runs by both Davie Franek and Jared Zimbardi would drop kick Colagiovanni back to third in the final points as No Panic Davie Franek would go on to claim the 360 Sprint Track Championship followed by Juice Jared Zimbardi in second. Both Franek and Zimbardi would each visit victory line once during the 2021 campaign. Colagiovanni had the most wins with three in finishing third followed by Jonathan Preston and Brian Preston who would complete the top five. Nick Fratto would claim sixth followed by Craig Lane who had his season cut short due to injury. Jake Karklin, Kyle Drum and Parker Evans would complete the top ten. Jordan Thomas while not competing regularly would also claim one feature event during the “21” season. A healthy thirty-seven different 360 Sprint drivers competed during the regular season point shows.
NAPA Auto Parts would find store owners Vera Eaker (Addison) and Nate Dunning (Corning, Hornell and Wellsville) joining forces to sponsor the Hobby Stock Division at Outlaw in 2021. By virtue of winning eight regular season feature events, three-time Hobby Stock Track Champion, Marc Minutolo would find himself back on top after a dismal 2020. Like Whritenour in the Street Stocks, it was total domination for Minutolo in the Hobby Stocks as second place point finisher, Brian Lloyd could not keep pace with the point champ. Third place finisher and Rookie of the Year recipient, Willie Easling rode the wave of two feature wins to claim third after graduating from go-kart competition and moving into the popular Hobby Stock Division. Bruce Kinner would go on to claim fourth and like Easling, Justin Eldredge would also make two trips to victory lane in rounding out the top five in points. Six thru tenth went to Dapper Don Slover, Jamie Eldredge Jr., Glen Vancise, Casey Wagner and Nathan Kinner who would complete the top ten. Other feature winners that did not make the top ten were Josh Oles and Lou Sharpsteen. In all, thirty -four driver saw action one time or another during the regular season.
After years of trying and in what many consider to be one of the most competitive classes that races weekly at the Outlaw Speedway, Scott Lehman was finally able to win the Winner’s Circle Deli Mini Stock Track Championship. By virtue of a pair of feature wins, Lehman was a picture of consistency finishing in the top ten thirteen times in the fourteen point paying events that were staged. Kenneth Evans had the checkered flag wave over the hood of his machine on four occasions, but at the end of the day had to settle for a well-deserved runner-up in the final tally. Third place went to Jason Smart who picked up a pair of feature wins a long way; however, it was veteran 4 Cylinder Mini Stock competitor, Brian Corky Grant who had the most wins in 2021 with five but missed two point shows during the campaign relegating him to fourth in the point standings. Alex Dykes would round the top five in the points and in doing so earned the Mini Stock 2021 Rookie of the Year Title as Rick Margeson would finish sixth, Brian Avery came next finishing seventh, Matt Irwin had one single feature win to finish eighth, Dave Kinner landed in ninth while former Track Champion, Mike Stone would complete the top ten. In all some fifty-five different drivers earned points during the 2021 campaign.
Prior to dinner, track owner/promoter, Tyler Siri stepped to the podium and in his usual manner thanked everyone for their support during the 2021 season. Even with the record number of rainouts, Outlaw Speedway could still boast some of the best car counts in the northeast on a weekly basis as the track continues to pay huge weekly purses and a large season ending point fund in all its regular seven weekly classes. He then went on to lay out his plans for an aggressive 2022 schedule including the return of the Short Track Super Series Event in May along with the Tony Stewart All Star Series Circuit of Champion 410 Sprint Car Series Event in conjunction with the inaugural Ted Sir Memorial in August. The traditional Spring, Summer and Fall Nationals along with Dutch Hoag Memorial Weekend will also return. In addition, numerous other Memorial Events will also be staged as the track will high light its 65th Anniversary, something that Siri is enormously proud to promote during the 2022 season at the popular Yates County Oval. Siri acknowledged class sponsors with commemorative plaques including Friendly Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, Sunrise Insulation, Speed Connection, Stan’s No Tubes, Lane’s Yamaha, NAPA and Winner’s Circle Deli. Fisher’s Tree Service received a special award from Siri for their weekly dedication and work performed at the track
Before closing, Steven Ovens then went on to present plaques and awards to a multitude of loyal and resolute staff members with some twenty-eight employees being acknowledged. Working Media Awards were handed out along with the 2021 Car Owner of the Year Award which went to Steve Paine where all three of his entries finished in the top ten in points in their respective classes. Phil Vigneri III received the distinguished Sportsmanship Award and the prestigious Dedication to Motorsports Award went to Dan Harpell who several years ago promoted the Black Rock Speedway (Outlaw) then under the ownership of Dean Hoag prior to the purchase by Siri. Since then, Harpell has been sought out by Siri on numerous occasion to perform the Race Director duties at the track. Congratulations to all recipients.
With the 2021 season and banquet now safely in the record books coming up next will be the Annual Arnot Mall Car Show set for March 19 and 20 at the massive Big Flats, NY facility.