Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Early in the offseason, longtime Oswego Speedway fan Craig Soper decided to take the plunge and purchase a pair of former Buske Racing Supermodifieds with plans in place for a two car 350 Supermodified team.
Just two weeks away from the track’s 69th Season Opener, that plan is still in motion and two absolutely beautiful race cars have been readied for action.
Early in the process, Barry Kingsley and Greg O’Connor were tabbed as Soper’s drivers, but a recent last minute change has been made allowing Small Block Super veteran Mike Bruce an opportunity in one of the rides.
“Craig called me recently and asked if I was interested in driving one of his 350 Supermodifieds this season,” Bruce said. “Greg (O’Connor) was just stepping away from the seat to focus on the Small Block car. I was happy to get that opportunity and decided to go for it.”
O’Connor, who had recently purchased two crate motors to field his Small Block program, was attempting to sell his Morrison SBS motor. Last year’s Small Block Super engines are currently legal in Oswego’s 350 Super class, so Bruce decided to approach Greg with an offer.
“With Craig supplying me a great car, I needed to supply the engine,” mentioned Bruce. “I was able to work a deal with Greg O’Connor for his freshly built Morrison. It’s all happened pretty fast. Craig called me last Thursday night and I picked everything up over the weekend.”
Now Bruce, who was not even remotely sure what his plans would like for 2019, intends to be at the track with the Lakeside Property Services ride for May 25th’s Season Opener and as much as he possibly can beyond that.
“Ideally we will run every show possible and I am going to thrash to make the Opener,” Bruce added. “Craig has been a big supporter of Oswego over the years. He has sponsored cars and attends every fundraiser for every team. He’s all about making as many races as possible and I’m happy to be a part of that with him.”
Oswego fans know Bruce as a longtime regular in the Small Block class. Driver of the family No. 22, Bruce is always a solid runner. He has thirty top fives and six feature wins to his credit, one of which came in last year’s $1,500 to win Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS event. Mike has plenty of laps around Oswego and is looking forward to the change this season.
“I have honestly been a fan of the 350 class since I first heard of the idea,” Bruce commented. “I think it’s going to be pretty sweet making the transition over from the Small Block class. I of course don’t want it to be at the expense of the SBS division, but am really looking forward to another full season at Oswego.”
Beyond the Oswego Speedway, Bruce would like to venture to the New England area on some off weeks, especially towards the end of the year. He has also promoted several Small Block Super events at the Evans Mills Speedway, and has even considered a plan to bring the Big O’s newest division there as well.
“I definitely have my eyes on traveling with the car more so after Oswego is over. Really as much as possible,” mentioned Bruce. “I may try to do a show or exhibition at Evans Mills with the 350’s and the Small Blocks like we’ve done in the past. Maybe that can help promote the class a bit. We’ll see how that goes.”
To this point, Oswego already has a dozen or so 350 Supermodifieds pre-registered, which is not too shabby for its inaugural season. Of those twelve names, several current and former SBS competitors are in the mix such as Bruce, his teammate Barry Kingsley, last year’s track champ Anthony Losurdo, Dalton Doyle, Chris Proud, and more.
“It’s nice to see a lot of us Small Block guys get the chance in a Super,” Bruce said. “It’s good to have a group of cars with ideally the same rule package working together to continue building a successful class. We have a good start.”
As for Bruce’s Small Block car, he intends to have that on the track within the first few weeks of the season as well. It might not be him behind the wheel though. After all, he does have a younger brother with extensive experience at the Oswego Kartway. Has it come time for him to move up?
“The limited is actually in the hauler right now, and that is going to be put on the back burner for a little bit so I can finish the 350,” Bruce explained. “My intentions are to order a crate and finish it up. Hopefully we can see that car hit the track a few weeks into the season with another Bruce at the wheel. I went from nothing to balls deep in race cars and chaos. This is the latest I’ve ever got started for a season, but we’re excited to get going.”
While Kingsley will be driving the other Lakeside Property Services car as a Joe Paeno tribute No. 06, Bruce is set to drive the No. 72 which features a tribute scheme to the late Bobby Hollenbeck, a longtime Supermodified fan and dedicated supporter of the Oswego Speedway.
“The tribute scheme is cool to honor people we’ve all considered great friends, and people who were such big fans of Oswego Speedway,” offered Bruce. “It’s something different Craig thought of and I look forward to hopefully putting the car into victory lane. We want to get competitive first obviously, but that’s the big goal. I just love to race.”
Bruce and Lakeside Property Services Racing are ready to open their season in Oswego’s Memorial Weekend special set for Saturday, May 25. The program will feature a 35-lap special for the 350 Supermodifieds, which will be the division’s inaugural Saturday event at the Big O.