Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Five years ago, champion non-wing Supermodified car owner John Nicotra and ISMA Supermodified champion Dave Shullick Jr. worked out a partnership with Jim Bodnar and Otto Sitterly that has since helped shape some of the key components of both Sitterly and Shullick’s Supermodified driving careers.
Prior to the 2013 season, Sitterly, Shullick, Nicotra, and Bodnar partnered to put Sitterly in a top of the line Bodnar built winged Supermodified. In return, the deal involved putting Shullick in one of the potent Nicotra Racing Hawk Chassis. The rest is history, and the results were rather successful to say the least.
In 2014, Sitterly drove Bodnar’s ‘Fire’ to his first career winged Supermodified victory at the Oswego Speedway, fittingly in the seventh running of the King of Wings event that July. Sitterly also piloted the car at other tracks on the ISMA circuit, including in the prestigious Hy-Miler and Star Classic events in which he saw further success.
For Shullick, on the other hand, it took a bit longer than he would have liked to pick up his first career non-wing Supermodified victory at the Oswego Speedway. After nearly winning the 2016 Budweiser International Classic 200 only to lose with two laps to go with a dry fuel cell, Shullick once more put a deal together with Sitterly and Nicotra to run the full 2017 season at Oswego. Mission accomplished.
Last year, Shullick drove to an impressive five main event victories including in the 61st running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 in which he redeemed himself for victory. The Ohio driver also earned the coveted Novelis Supermodified track championship, becoming the first driver from the Buckeye State to take home a coveted speedway title since Todd Gibson did so with the Flintstone Flyer back in 1968.
For the 2018 season, Sitterly adjusted focus only on his own No. 7 car, while Shullick and Nicotra worked out a new deal with longtime Supermodified wrench Jim Paternoster to tune up the No. 2 machine. Shullick’s wins continued to come, as did Sitterly’s.
This past season, Shullick drove to four more wins including one of the two Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50’s plus the Independence Weekend Grand Prix 75. ‘The Shoe 2’ also finished second in the point standings to Sittery’s record breaking eighth Supermodified title, marking the second year in a row that Nicotra Racing sat atop the ‘road to the championship’ in one-two fashion.
All of the goals put in place by Shullick and Nicotra have thus been achieved, and at this time, both car owner and driver have decided to regroup moving forward and part ways ahead of the 2019 racing season.
“I am very happy with the outcome of my partnership with DJ,” Nicotra said. “All of the deals that we put together have come to completion and we ended up being very successful. At this time I would like to cut back a little. Having four cars has become a little too much at this point in my life. We are all very pleased with the results that we were able to put together and DJ, Otto, Jim and I remain very close friends. If sponsorship falls into place, we are open to putting some more deals together.”
Shullick echoed Nicotra’s thoughts, stating, “It was a great five year run, something I had a lot of fun doing. I was able to get a track championship, a lot of wins, and a Classic out of it and that was the ultimate goal going in. I made a lot of great memories and friends that I will take from it. Otto and I text frequently, we are good friends, and I will remain friends with him, Johnny, and everyone involved with their team. I really need to thank Otto Sitterly and Jim Paternoster for all of their hard work over the years.”
As for the 2019 season, Shullick’s plans are up in the air, but he hinted that “there is some discussion that is in the works right now for next year. Stay tuned.”
Sitterly, who drove to five feature wins this year including his fifth International Classic and third Mr. Supermodified crown, also appreciated his long standing partnership with Shullick and Bodnar and looks forward to scaling back a bit for the future. He will be competing with a wing on his own No. 7 car in the World Series at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this weekend.
“I’m glad the deal with Shullick worked out in the end for everybody and I was able to get a win with the top wing on the Bodnar car and of course, DJ was able to run exceptionally well in 2017 and back it up with a nice year in 2018 while driving a car for Nicotra Racing in both of those seasons,” SItterly said. “It has been a bunch of years now with multiple cars and multiple drivers coming out of my shop and I’m sort of looking forward to gearing back a little bit with hopefully just one or two cars for myself. Johnny (Nicotra) and I make the decisions somewhat together, but if it was solely up to me I would go run next season with ISMA.”
In the meantime, Sitterly will be recognized for his eighth championship at the 2018 Hall of Fame Awards Banquet will be held Saturday, November 3 at the Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center. Tickets for the banquet, which will be available soon, are priced at $45. Contact the speedway box office at (315)-342-0646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.
You can keep up with Nicotra Racing’s plans for the 2019 season on their website NicotraRacing.com or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/NicotraRacing. You can also FOLLOW the team on Twitter @NicotraRacing.
For more information on Oswego Speedway, be sure to visit online at OswegoSpeedway.com. You can also FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.
Oswego Speedway’s 2019 schedule is a work in progress. The speedway’s 69th annual Opening Day has been set for Saturday, May 25th. Open Practice will take place a week earlier on Saturday, May 18. The season opener will include the Supermodifieds, Small Block Supers, and more.
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.