Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Yet another Small Block Supermodified veteran is set to make the move up to Oswego Speedway’s premier division as Proud Motorsports and driver Camden Proud have acquired the potent Strong Racing No. 99 Supermodified which last appeared at the speedway on Classic Weekend in 2016.
The 2010 Hawk Chassis has been driven to two Oswego victories by Michael Barnes in 2012 and has also been piloted by Dave Cliff and Joey Payne as well, with Payne notably bringing the orange and purple racer home on the podium as part of the 2015 Budweiser International Classic 200. After much discussion with his father and Proud Motorsports team owner Tim Proud, the 19 year-old explained how his family got to the big decision.
“Over the winter my Dad and I have talked an awful lot about the next steps we wanted to take in my racing career and this is the conclusion we came up with,” Proud said. “It started off with some interest in running Super DIRT Week and maybe getting a dirt Sportsman. I’ve always wanted to try the dirt and just want to race as much as possible. Then, when I heard of 350 SMAC coming to town I wanted a ride for that so we kind of got looking around and that’s when we started to get a little bit curious about the 99 because their older piece is a perfect 350.”
Proud’s original interest was purchasing Pat and Terry Strong’s other team car, which is a West Chassis 4-Bar that still remains for sale. The plan was to make that roller a 350 Supermodified for Classic Weekend, but the former Pathfinder Bank SBS Rookie of the Year says he just “thought better of it” and turned his head to look at the newer big block car instead.
“I’ve been working very closely with John Burke from 350 SMAC the past several months doing his public relations,” Proud mentioned. “John heard from my Dad and I about our interest in fielding a car for Classic Weekend and he offered me a trade off to do his PR in exchange for a ride for Classic Sunday. I jumped at the chance and that’s something we are finalizing the details on right now. That was right about when we learned of the price the Strongs were willing to let the big block Super go for.”
Since December, both Tim and Camden have been involved in several discussions with Strong Racing while making multiple trips out to the team’s Scriba race shop in an effort to strike a deal on the accomplished family-owned racer. After months worth of careful deliberation, the deal was finalized this past week and the No. 99 was rolled into Proud Motorsports’ shop in the City of Oswego.
“We’ve had our eyes on the 99 since it went up for sale,” the Small Block Super regular admitted. “We are a very low buck team and that’s just in the SBS class. Therefore, fielding a Supermodified is something I never thought would be possible, but I thought the time was now if we were going to try it. The SBS class is in transition to crate and our engine has to go up for sale after this year. I figured we could put that money towards a good Super. That car is the perfect fit. It’s won, it’s successful, and its competitive. It’s a great starter car for me and a piece we’ve had many of the Supermodified regulars tell us they believe can still win which is very encouraging input. Growing up, my dream was to race at Oswego Speedway and I’ve gotten to do that in a homebuilt ride which has brought us some great accomplishments. I am so incredibly grateful, but this is just above and beyond for me. I am on cloud nine to have our own Supermodified just a few steps out my back door.”
Due to the purchase, Proud’s SBS racing will have to take the backseat for the 2019 season, but that won’t be the case this year as the Step One Creative No. 54 is still the team’s primary focus moving forward. In the same summer he graduated from high school, Proud drove his father’s creation to six top five finishes including three runner up efforts and a third place points finish as part of the 2017 edition of the ‘Road to the Championship.’
“The 54 is absolutely our main focus,” Proud noted. “I’m honestly sick of finishing second and we want to build off our best year yet and get that win. It’s a car we know we can win with and also contend for a championship. Additionally, that car is funded entirely by sponsors, my fundraiser, things like that. The Supermodified is a completely separate entity that we are in the very early stages of, especially financially. Every bit of this deal is a process and a learning experience. Before we park the SBS for awhile, there is a lot of unfinished business to handle and it’s time a Proud Chassis goes back to victory lane in that division.”
The current speedway public relations director went on to explain that timing was everything in being able to acquire the Supermodified, and had it not been for his parents’ support along with that of Ken’s Body Shop in Oswego, the addition of a Supermodified to the Proud Motorsports stable would not be possible.
“A lot of people have been joking with me asking if I struck rich, but that’s definitely not the case,” Proud laughed. “I’ve been saving my money for awhile. I have a website I work on, a handful of clients I do public relations and social media work for, and of course my position at the speedway. I’ve tried to put a bit aside here and there because I knew this is something I wanted to do sooner rather than later. Pat and Terry have had this car for sale for awhile now and they gave us a very fair price. They were awesome to work with and have been very helpful to us. With the assistance from my parents, and also Jeff Jones at Ken’s Body Shop in Oswego, we were able to make the investment. I can not thank Ken’s Body Shop enough for the continued support, not to mention my parents’ sacrifice in this humongous undertaking. So much thought went into it. Nobody has any idea how much of a dream come true this is to co-own a Super with my Dad. It means the world to me.”
Although Proud Motorsports will not be racing two cars next season, you can expect to see both the Supermodified and the SBS rolled to the track this year. Following several track testing sessions, Camden intends to pull ‘double duty’ on an occasion or two leading up to the 62nd running of Budweiser International Classic Weekend.
“We didn’t just buy the car to let it sit in the shop, we will definitely be bringing it to the track a few times this year to see what we’ve got,” Proud said. “It’s going to take time. Pat (Strong) is planning to help us out, we’ll have Joey Hawksby and all the right people take a look at it. Everything will be gone through meticulously to ensure its good to go. There is a lot of good equipment in there so we are confident in our piece. We’ll start by firing the car at a test session and take it from there. It’s really just a week to week operation at this point.”
Proud’s goals this season with the Supermodified are to log laps, get lots of seat time, and more importantly than anything else, get acclimated and adjusted behind the wheel of what is an entirely different race car compared to anything he has driven in his career.
“It’s a totally different ballgame,” Proud explained. “My Oswego experience will be there, but some of the stuff I’ve learned in the SBS is totally useless. We have a 400 horsepower difference to work with, throttle control, steering, and all of those other things I’m going to need to get a handle on. I look forward to the learning experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to develop some pretty cool relationships with a lot of the guys I look up to in the Super pits. I know many of the top drivers in that division will be willing to help or offer advice. I want to learn every time I’m on the track. We’re going up against a lot of experienced talent and a lot of bigger budgets than we have. It will be a privilege just to be out there. I grew up watching these guys I’m going to run side by side with, so it’s just really cool for me.”
Whether or not the car will compete in a race this season will be determined solely on Proud’s progress and how the track testing goes, which Camden believes will start in mid to late July should the assembly process run smoothly after the entire car is gone through from top to bottom.
“We want to take our time and do this right,” Proud continued. “We’ll fire it, and then make some laps. I’m going to take it a lap at a time. If we get up to speed and we are running respectable times, then we might bring it out for the last show or two of the season to get used to running with other cars ahead of the Classic. Qualifying for and in turn starting the International Classic is really my ultimate goal in motorsports. That’s what we’re going for and we’ll know this summer if that is a real possibility for 2018. If we’re not where we want to be, we’ll focus on next year.”
The Strong Racing No. 99 locked in to the 2015 Classic with a lap of 16.5 seconds before going on to finish in third place. Proud knows that should he qualify for the 200-lap event, he will be doing so with a car that has potential to win the race and discussed in depth the cars’ setup advantages and disadvantages, along with what his personal goals would be should the team be prepared enough to compete on Classic Weekend.
“We just want to learn and be competitive this year and next, but the thing is that we know this car can win and there’s no doubt in our minds about that,” Proud added. “I watched Joey (Payne) drive it to third place in 2015 and he nearly got second at the line. We’ve seen Michael Barnes blow by people with it on the outside. It’s doesn’t have every new update, its not as aero friendly as the new Hawk cars, but it will get you a 16.5 or 16.4. It’s a solid top five piece and is stable, consistent, and has proven to be very strong in long distance events. It’s now up to me to do my part in listening, learning, and taking the proper advice from the proper people. The field I am up against is unbelievably talented. Just to qualify for the 200 would be an accomplishment and yes, I definitely hope I’m standing on the frontstretch with a case of Budweiser next to the car come September 2.”
As some fans may recall, Proud Motorsports has owned a Supermodified before, from 1998 to 2002. That car was numbered 22 and then 04 for several seasons and under several different paint schemes with Tim along with SBS icon Mike Bond each getting behind the wheel. This new ride for Camden will certainly have shades of his father’s Super days as the team plans to bring back the No. 04 to the Novelis Supermodified division.
“We’re excited to bring back the 04 and I’m sure there’s a few tips my Dad will be able to give me from his years in the Supers,” Proud stated. “When we picked a number for the SBS, both of my Dad’s former numbers 04 and 22 were taken. I ran those for all nine of my quarter midgets years. Our intent is to bring the 04 back. So many great names have drove the 04 when it was the Solvay Automotive car. Warren Coniam and Bobby Stelter just to name a couple. It’s a legendary number at Oswego. My Dad always loved it, so to stick it on our car as a second generation driver following in my father’s footsteps would be beyond neat for me.”
Tim got his Supermodified start behind the wheel of the Doug Didero backup car owned by Skip Matczak back in August 1997, driving to a fifteenth place finish in his first ever Oswego event. He then purchased a new Howard Page Chassis for the 1998 season, before putting SBS standout Bond in the car to go on to win the 1999 Supermodified Rookie of the Year title. Proud returned to qualify nineteenth out of forty four cars for the 2000 International Classic before being crashed out while running inside the top fifteen. After two seasons of part time action in 2001 and 2002 highlighted by a career best eleventh place finish on Opening Day of ‘01, Tim hasn’t seen Supermodified action since, but that may soon change.