On February 3, 1976 Glenn Donnelly and the Petrocci brothers met
to form Driver's Independent Races Tracks (DIRT) of Central New
York. The original DIRT circuit consisted of Rolling Wheels Raceway,
Weedsport Speedway and the New York State Fairgrounds mile oval.
In April Will Cagle won the first ever DIRT-sanctioned feature
event staged at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y.
In November the first DIRT Banquet was held at the Arts and Home
Center on the New York State Fairgrounds. Will Cagle received $3,000
in overall point fund money for the inaugural Mr. DIRT title. Bobby
Watson was introduced as DIRT's new head starter.
In January Gilmore Photo announced the creation of the DIRT
Fan of the Year award.
Canandaigua Speedway joined the DIRT circuit and hosted the first
of three DIRT-sanctioned events in July.
Dave Lape earned the second Mr. DIRT title as 600 fans attended
the 2nd Annual DIRT Banquet in November.
Canandaigua Speedway officially joined DIRT and prepared to
run a complete weekly schedule.
Mr. DIRT title won by Will Cagle for the second year, this time
worth $4,000 to the native Floridian.
Andy Fusco named corporate council and first vice-president
of DIRT of Central New York. Dundee Raceway joined DIRT at the late
Will Cagle secured his third Mr. DIRT title in four years.
Five Mile Point Speedway joined the DIRT circuit.
In January the organization became officially known as DIRT
of New York with Ransomville Speedway and Merrittville Speedway
gaining membership. In February Fonda Speedway and Lebanon Valley
Speedway joined the DIRT fold and the 320-Modified division was
Schaefer 200 at the NYS Fairgrounds received it's first national
television coverage by ESPN.
DIRT restructured the rulebook to better define what a modified
race car was meant to be after Gary Balough's victory at Syracuse
in his controversial "Batmobile" machine.
750 guests attended the 5th Annual DIRT banquet held at the Center
of Progress Building on the N.Y.S. Fairgrounds.
Jack Johnson won his first Mr. DIRT title and received $4,000 in
point fund money.
DIRT and NODA (Northeast Owners and Drivers Association) convened
and negotiated over rule changes in February.
In March 1000 DIRT members met at Weedsport Speedway to discuss
similar rule changes.
DIRT grievance board established. Dundee dropped it's DIRT-sanction
for late models and Utica Rome Speedway joined the organization.
In May DIRT imposed a 13-inch wide tire rule.
The DIRT banquet moved to the Hotel Syracuse and Alan Johnson was
recognized for winning his first Mr. DIRT title.
DIRT sanctioned it's first-ever Florida Winter Tour with Jeff
Kappesser and Billy Pauch tying for the Speed Week title.
It was announced that the Late Model and 320-Modified divisions
would be combined for one season, with the LM class dropped at season's
DIRT computerized all points and handicapping systems. DIRT of
New York name officially shortened to DIRT.
Jack Johnson received $10,000 in point fund money for the Mr. DIRT
title at the annual DIRT awards banquet.
Orange County Fair Speedway and Accord Speedway joined DIRT while
Five Mile Point Speedway made a short-term exit.
Rich Rubenstein named as DIRT vice-president of marketing
and public relations. Woodhull, Dundee, Can Am, Brockville and Cornwall
speedways join DIRT under 320-modified sanctions.
In February Alan Johnson wins the Florida Winter Tour point title.
Robin Manus named general manager of Orange County Fair Speedway
Alan Johnson became first driver ever to win the DIRT triple crown;
Super DIRT Series point title, the Schaefer 200 race at Syracuse
and the overall Mr. DIRT point title in the same season.
Tony Corcoran crowned inaugural Mr. DIRT in 320-Modified division.
Alan Johnson received $21,000 in point fund money at the annual
DIRT banquet for his triple crown wins. Airborne, Devil's Bowl and
Albany-Saratoga joined DIRT as Five Mile Point rejoined.
Brewerton and Humberstone Int'l speedways acquired DIRT sanction.
Miller Brewing announced major sponsorship of DIRT circuit.
Special promotions brought Bobby Allison to selected DIRT sanctioned
events throughout the year.
Jack Johnson became the second driver to win the DIRT triple crown;
also becoming the first driver since Ralph DePalma to win all feature
races run on the Syracuse mile in the same season.
Jumpin' Jack earned $20,000 and a trip to Hawaii for his overall
Miller Beer Mr. DIRT title and triple crown efforts at the annual
In December Airborne, Albany-Saratoga and Devil's Bowl withdraw
from DIRT to form their own group known as CVRA.
New DIRT logo unveiled as DIRT prepares to celebrate it's
10th year of sanctioning racing in the northeast. DIRT released
it's first-ever record book called "10 Years on DIRT",
with member-track statistics compiled by Brian and Gary Spaid.
In March New Venture Int'l Speedway joined DIRT.
A new era begins as the formation of a DIRT television network
is announced with continued broadcasts of the weekly summer show,
"This Week on DIRT" moving to the forefront.
Jack Johnson received $10,200 in point fund money as the overall
Miller Beer Mr. DIRT titlist. Point fund money also handed out to
top 320-Modified teams from the $3,482,000 total paid out under
DIRT sanction that year.
Autodrome Edelweiss joined the DIRT organization. Dan Harpell
replaced Rich Rubenstein as head of marketing and public relations
and Robin Manus was promoted to vice-president of DIRT operations
in the Weedsport-based office.
DIRT sanctioned it's third Florida Winter Tour and Jimmy Horton
earned the series point title. Sun Country Cooler picks up sponsorship
of the Super DIRT Series.
Charlie Rudolph received $12,000 for his first Miller Beer Mr.
DIRT point title at the annual DIRT banquet held at the Hotel Syracuse.
Announcement made of the formation of DIRT South in Texas.
DIRT introduced the "New Style" Modified body rule as
an experiment for 1987-88 and also called for the formation of a
new DIRT sportsman division.
Danny Johnson won the Florida DIRT Winter Tour point title.
while Doug Hoffman won the first DIRT-DIRT South tour race as rain
cancelled all but one event on the first Texas Tour.
A+ Mini Markets and Skoal Bandit Racing are announced as primary
sponsors of the 15 year-old Super DIRT Series.
Flemington Speedway in New Jersey joined DIRT. Steve Behrent's
victory at Orange County Fair Speedway in June was the first ever
aboard a "New Style" modified, a Ford Thunderbird Gary
Spaid replaced Dan Harpell in charge of DIRT public relations on
a temporary basis and is named the new editor for the DIRT Trackin'
Magazine replacing Larry Costa.
Jack Johnson received $12,000 in overall Miller High Life Mr. DIRT
point money at the annual banquet held at the Sheraton Hotel in
DIRT paid out over $4,395,000 for events run in 1987.
Special tire testing sessions staged at New Smyrna Speedway
in Florida in preparation for DIRT's upcoming expansion into the
asphalt racing arena.
Alan Johnson won the Texas Tour point title as DIRT and DIRT South
offered a series of five Texas races. Edelweiss and Frogtown joined
DIRT television network expanded to produce 26 weekly shows and
be seen across the entire east coast, Texas and Florida.
Bob Vanderborgh named to DIRT marketing post. Accord Speedway (Fastland)
DIRT promoted first-ever asphalt show on August 27th at Cayuga
Int'l Speedway in Nelles Corners, ONT; part of the 1988 Skoal Racing
Super DIRT Series won by New Yorker Jack Cottrell.
In September Mike Bohannon was named to DIRT marketing post. Alan
Johnson won his 200th career DIRT Modified feature race at Canandaigua
Speedway on September 3rd. Alan and Chuck Akulis became the first
ever co-track champions declared by DIRT after their tie in points
Jack Johnson received $25,000 for his Miller High Life Mr. DIRT
Championship at the annual DIRT banquet held at the Hotel Syracuse.
In December Stan Friesen (Western), Paul Kuhl (Southern) and Howard
Commander (Eastern) were all promoted to DIRT vice-presidents of
competition in each specified region.
DIRT announced the formation of three major Modified Series,
each with complete point system changes; Skoal Racing DIRT-Asphalt
Challenge and Sunoco Championship Trail.
Alan Johnson earned the Florida Winter Tour title and Jack Johnson
won the Texas Tour title.
Frenchman Gaston Salvas announced as new DIRT vice-president of
competition for the Northern Region and Robin Manus elevated to
post of Executive VP at DIRT Headquarters.
DIRT retitled it's small-block division "358-Modified"
as the 320 cubic-inch engine was being eliminated from the official
rule book prior to 1990.
Five Mile Point dismissed it's DIRT sanction under new track promoter
NASCAR drivers Geoff Bodine and Kenny Schrader won two of the three
DIRT-Asphalt Challenge '89 races while Danny Johnson captured the
Brett Hearn won the championship title in both the Skoal Racing
Super DIRT Series and the inaugural DIRT-Asphalt Challenge. Danny
Johnson received $25,000 at the annual DIRT Banquet for the overall
Miller High Life Mr. DIRT Championship title after recording 34
modified feature wins.
Airborne Speedway officials announced the track would be leaving
DIRT in 1990 following complete pavement of the facility.
The unique DIRT-Asphalt Challenge series was expanded to include
Roger Penske's Pennsylvania Int'l Raceway, with Brett Hearn winning
the headline feature event. Hearn continued on to win most of the
major dollar events during the season, including Ransomville Speedway's
"Summer Nationals", Lebanon Valley Speedway's "Mr.
DIRT USA", the "Miller High Life 300" at Syracuse,
and seven Skoal Racing Super DIRT Series mains.
The New Jersey star collected over $196,000 on the Skoal Racing
Super DIRT Series alone, along with both the series title and the
DIRT/Asphalt Challenge title. His earnings exceeded $210,000, including
the $25,000 for the 1990 Miller High Life Mr. DIRT title.
Mike Button captured top honors in the inaugural Mr. DIRT Sportsman
Championship. Frogtown switched nights and became an associate member
track. The winter tours were cancelled for the first time due to
operational problems at the southern tracks.
Both Brett Hearn and Bob McCreadie passed the century mark on the
DIRT big-block feature win chart.
Frogtown regained full membership while Ransomville Speedway
was forced to take on associate status. Gasport and Genesee also
joined DIRT as associate member tracks. After Ransomville's move
to associate membership, Genesee was given the title of Semi-Full
member in order to issue track bonus points for western New York
drivers at a Friday night facility.
Associate member tracks began to be listed in the DIRT Media Guide
with an asterisk(*) denoting a feature event not counted in the
overall DIRT win list.
Budweiser joined DIRT Motorsports as the major sponsor replacing
Miller. Bud also became the major sponsor of the DIRT-Asphalt Challenge
Although Flemington was paved due to EPA pressures, the speedway
retained it's DIRT sanction as DIRT's only asphalt member. The Garden
State oval became a major stop on the Budweiser DIRT Asphalt Challenge
This may go down as the "Summer of Weekend Rains".
Only two weekends all summer long were rain-free. Many speedways
suffered their worse year ever due to both weather and the economy.
Paradise Speedway became a full member track.
Budweiser returned to sponsor the overall Mr. DIRT program and
the individual track champions program, but not the DIRT-Asphalt
Challenge; a contributing factor that helped spell the demise of
the fledgling series.
It was also announced that the Skoal Racing Super DIRT Series would
experience a number of major changes in 1993, including creation
of a 358?Modified Super DIRT Series. The A+ Winner's Classic would
be dropped from the Super DIRT Week program, with guaranteed spots
earned at Modified series races going only towards the big race.
DIRT Motorsports proposed the use of unleaded fuels, through
Sunoco Race Fuels. In February a Florida Tour 'invitational' resulted
in experiments using unleaded fuel and hard track tires.
Kenny Tremont won the first ever 358?Modified Super DIRT Series
race run at Frogtown in June. This new series proved to be popular
at most speedways, but a bit too rich for many of the tracks to
handle. A shortened big-block series saw fifteen regular runners
emerge. Many teams began a silly season of driver changes as the
economy was still down, causing many teams to end their year prematurely.
Brett Hearn stormed to his fourth Super DIRT Week Modified victory,
with a $100,000-plus victory in the nationally publicized Wheels
300. Hearn and Bob McCreadie once again dominated the modified action
throughout the season.
Doug Young joined the DIRT Marketing Staff replacing Mike Bohannon.
Parts Plus joined DIRT Motorsports as a major sponsor of the DIRT
License program, boosting individual insurance coverage to a high
of $100,000 per claim.
DIRT Motorsports accepted a track tire bid from McCreary Tire
to supply member tracks in the modified and 358?modified divisions.
The addition of McCreary boosted the overall point funds to record
highs; modified($50,000 for first) and 358?modified($20,000 for
first). In addition, each modified track champion received $3,000
and each 358?modified track champion collected $1,500.
Driver after driver were "disqualified" (declared illegal
and fined points and earnings) after winning Skoal Racing 358-Modified
Series events making it the most controversial tour ever sanctioned
by DIRT. The majority of penalties were for motor infractions, this
prompting circulation of a post-season questionnaire to obtain driver
input into rules in this division. Susquehanna, Bridgeport, Accord
and Brewerton speedways signed on with DIRT as full member tracks.
Cornwall, Brewerton and Cayuga County ran a mixed modified/358?modified
division, with points awarded toward both overall Mr. DIRT Championships.
Cornwall also instituted a "Specials Only" format to celebrate
it's 25th anniversary season.
The television show "Raceday" broadcasted live from Super
DIRT Week XXIII, with the winning driver interview from Jimmy Horton
DIRT Motorsports added Five Mile Point to the list of member
speedways, also adding the sportsman divisions at both Five Mile
Roger Lalonde purchased Autodrome Edelweiss at mid-season and ran
the speedway with a combination of big-blocks and 358?modifieds,
but awarding points only to 358's.
Doug Young resigned his Marketing post in June and was temporarily
replaced by PR Director Gary Spaid for the duration of the summer
months. Both Cory Reed (intern) and Becky Marion shared this responsibility
beginning in September.
Bids were received from both tire and fuel companies.
Six live broadcasts from Cayuga County Fair Speedway on the Empire
Sports Network highlighted the expanding DIRT Television Network.
The STARS late models debuted at Super DIRT Week and it was announced
that the World of Outlaws would not return to Syracuse in 1996.
The new Saturday format would list STARS in place of WoO.
DIRT re-organized under the new corporate title of DIRT Motorsports,
Inc., leaving the title Drivers Independent Race Tracks in the archives.
This corporate move came after a major lawsuit involving an Orange
County Fair Speedway sportsman driver.
Ten live Thursday night television broadcasts called "Rush
Hour on DIRT" highlighted a number of Skoal Racing Super DIRT
Series events. The results of these shows were quickly heralded
in auto racing circles across the country.
The addition of Delaware Int'l Speedway extended the DIRT regime
further south. A very successful SDS race was held at that track
Cory Reed was named to the post of DIRT Marketing and Operations.
The DIRT banquet returned to Alexandria Bay, NY.
Track promoter Alex Friesen was killed in a snowmobile accident
in early December to end the year on a somber note.
Ohsweken (Ont.) Speedway joined as a full member and the "New"
Fonda Speedway maintained it's full membership under the leadership
of first-year promoter Ric Lucia. In April DIRT hosted it's first
"Auto Expo" at the Dome in Henrietta, NY, where the first
Ms. DIRT Motorsports, Kimberly Whitehead, was crowned.
The racing community suffered numerous losses as Kevin Flemming,
a sportsman driver is killed at Syracuse in July and track official
Fred Taney is struck and killed at Canandaigua Speedway in late
The "Rush Hour on DIRT" television show expanded to an
hour and a half as it's popularity grew internationally. Seventeen
shows were broadcast, including all three major days at Syracuse
in October. "This Week on DIRT", the weekly television
magazine of DIRT Motorsports, was scheduled to end in June to make
way for the live telecasts.
The first-ever Mr. DIRT co-champions were honored after Brett Hearn
and Danny Johnson tied in overall modified points. Bob McCreadie
caught and ultimately tied Alan Johnson's career record of 265 DIRT
big-block modified feature wins. Brett Hearn and Pat O'Brien also
ended the season knotted with 110 358?Modified victories each.
For the first time ever the annual DIRT banquet in November was
held on foreign soil with Montreal neighbor St-Hyacinthe, Quebec
attracting American drivers to Canada. Ransomville Speedway announced
they were leaving DIRT Motorsports prior to the start of the 1998
DIRT Motorsports, Inc. sanctioned 615 open-wheel feature events
at 21 full-member speedways; Modified 208, 358-Modified 148 and
Sportsman 259. An additional 107 open-wheel stock races were recorded
at six DIRT associate member tracks. The season began with a return
to Volusia Speedway Park for the Florida Winter Tour.
Billy Decker captured DIRT's elusive 'triple crown' winning the
modified division's Super DIRT Series, Super DIRT Week Eckerd 300
and overall Mr. DIRT title. He collected $74,000 at the DIRT Banquet
held in Alexandria Bay, N.Y.
Bob McCreadie scored nine wins to emerge as DIRT's all-time winningest
modified driver with 274 big-block feature triumphs; a record Alan
Johnson(271) had held since 1983.
Brett Hearn beat out Johnson for top honors in the Super DIRT 358-Modified
Series while A.J. Slideways out-distanced himself from Canadian
Pat O'Brien and Hearn to capture his second straight overall Mr.
DIRT 358 Championship. Hearn became the all-time DIRT division leader
with 116 small-block victories.
'Rush Hour' broadcasts continued late in the season with eight
events carried "live" into more than 25 million homes
and two more offered on a tape-delayed basis. The Fink family purchased
Fulton Speedway in June and by season's end Bridgeport officials
announced Bob VanSciver would be the new promoter; both groups would
gain DIRT sanction the following year.
The season was marred by tragedies both on and off the track. In
June, Orange County Sportsman driver Barbara Luce lost her life
in a motorcycle accident, just three weeks after winning her first
career feature race. Two weeks later at the same Middletown oval
on the same night fans paid tribute to Luce, Paul Jones pulled pit
side during the sportsman main and soon after succumbed to a heart
attack. Lebanon Valley track official Charlie Perkins was struck
by a vehicle as he carried out backstretch flagger duties during
a street stock race while track promoters Betty Graham (Genesee)
and Bonnie Colwell (Sportsman's) lost their battles with cancer
during the summer.
DIRT Motorsports' final season of the century actually came
to its conclusion in April of 2000 when Steve Paine and Danny Johnson
were officially declared co-champions in the Hoosier Tire-Sunoco
Race Fuels Mr. DIRT 358-Modified Championship.
Five months earlier Johnson (Modified), Chris Shultz (Sportsman)
and Tom Kuck (Pro Stock) earned the title of Mr. DIRT in their respective
The 358-Modified dispute stemmed from a November '99 decision of
DIRT's Appellate Board in which members were asked to determine
a protested race held at the Utica-Rome Speedway in September. After
hearing three hours of testimony, the board declared the title a
tie. Two months later that same decision was vacated by a New York
State Supreme Court Judge but before a new court-ordered hearing
was had, the Johnson team, the Paine team and DIRT President Glenn
Donnelly met in private and agreed to settle the matter by abiding
by the initial November '99 ruling.
This episode marked the first time a Mr. DIRT Championship was
decided off the track and thus allowed Johnson to emerge as the
first driver to capture both overall big-block and small-block titles
in the same season.
Opening with the Florida Tour in February, DIRT Motorsports, Inc.
sanctioned 750 open-wheel feature events in 1999 with all but five
staged at 25 full-member speedways; Modified 227, 358-Modified 206
and Sportsman 317. An additional 154 open-wheel stock races were
recorded at seven DIRT associate member tracks. Tri-City and Fulton
speedways attained their first-ever memberships while Bridgeport
and Utica-Rome returned to the DIRT-fold.
DIRT Motorsports continued with its "Rush Hour" live
program broadcasts for the fourth consecutive year with ten events
offered; 16 events were carried live on the internet in DIRT's CyberSeries
'99 debut. A half-million web surfers logged into www.dirtmotorsports.com
during Super DIRT Week XXVIII to stay in touch with all the activities
around the famed 'Moody Mile.'
After headlining the premier Super DIRT Series since 1987, Advance
Auto Parts replaced Skoal Racing/U.S. Tobacco as the primary tour
sponsor in a major March announcement. Five Advance SDS feature
races were then televised along with three straight days of Super
DIRT Week XXVIII action in Syracuse (NY) and both CARQUEST Eastern
States Championships for Modifieds and 358-Modifieds at Orange County
Fair Speedway in Middletown (NY).
Capturing the modified division's Advance Auto Parts SDS was Kenny
Tremont, also winner of his first Eckerd 300 during Super DIRT Week
XXVIII at the New York State Fairgrounds, and recognized as the
Prolong Super Lubricants Driver of the Year. Steve Paine earned
top honors in the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT 358-Modified Series
following his best year ever.