Excitement on the High Banks: Fulton Speedway

Fulton, NY is the home of a 3/8th mile high bank dirt oval. Fulton Speedway has been both an asphalt and clay race track in its long history. In 1961 the Speedway opened its doors to fans as a paved oval. Asphalt racing was on the weekly schedule until 1978. Then it was reopened as a dirt oval in 1979.

Over the years top drivers from all divisions have visited victory lane at Fulton, like “Mr. Small Block” Pete Bicknell, Kenny Brightbill, Bob McCreadie, Billy Pauch, and Dale Planck. I remember going to Fulton to see the best Small Block drivers in the Northeast compete at the Victoria 200. Some years, over 100 cars would try and make the star studded field at the Victoria. Big drag rubber, alcohol and high side boards made these cars cool to watch as a fan.

Along with the Small Block cars turning laps at Fulton Speedway, ESS sprint cars ran the high bank track in their first years of existence. Sprint cars still make an appearance at the track throughout the season. Both Fulton Speedway and Brewerton Speedway are owned by John Wight. Brewerton, “The D Shaped Demond,” runs on a Friday nights and Fulton races Saturday nights throughout the summer.

For the regular weekly shows, those 18 and under get in free and races start at 7:00 pm sharp. Dirt Modified, Sportsmans, Late Models, and 4-cylinders are part of the weekly show competing for points. Throughout the season different series visit the track for special shows for the dedicated race fans. The world of outlaw sprint cars will make an appearance on October 7th this year. The big race of the year is the 32nd running of the Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility Outlaw 200, so set aside September 29th and 30th for an unbelievable event.

My first visit to Fulton this year was for a regular show plus the King’s Smash’em Crash’em Demolition Derby. When I arrived, the pits were filling up with cars and race fans were making their way into the grandstands. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. Fans get to see close racing in all classes because of the wide corners that give drivers plenty of room to run side by side. Racers are either feeding on the bottom of the track or are riding the cushion up against the wall. But if one is hooked up, they can run right in the middle making for some three wide action.

Dirt Modified drivers like Jimmy Phelps, Larry Wight, Pat Ward, and young Max McLaughlin, race weekly on the high banks of Fulton. Over 40 Sportsman Modifieds were present for their two feature races. Record number of Sportsman cars are filling the pits at tracks all over the Northeast. Not only are there a ton of cars in this class, but great racing really makes this undercard class very popular with fans.  Jeremy Dygert and Todd Root “Parked it” in victory lane in their Sportsman features. Chad Homan battled his way to an exciting win in the growing Late Model feature event. Sportsman Novice winners were Kyle Perry and Steve Marshall. Ray Bechler was the big winner in the popular 4-cylinder class.

After all of the great racing in the other classes, fans still had the 35 Lap Tracey Road Equipment Big Block Feature to come. As always, the Big Block race did not disappoint. Early on #63 Adam Roberts pulled his Big Block out to a reasonable lead over Tom Sears Jr, Ryan   Jordan, and “Mad” Max McLaughlin. Meanwhile heavy hitters Phelps and Wight were on their way to the front. There was great racing throughout the field, giving the fans their money’s worth. With a few laps to go, Sears made a pass on leader Roberts to take over the lead. It looked like Sears had it in the bag until the yellow flew with one lap to go. This gave Phelps and Wight one last shot at the lead. The green flag dropped on the bunched up field for a great white checkered finish. Tom Sears Jr. kept his car straight and on the bottom, holding off the hard charging #98 Phelps and the red #99 of Larry Wight. Racing like this keeps people coming back Week after week. I look forward to visiting the High Banks a lot more this season.

If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday night this summer, make a short trip to Fulton for some fantastic dirt track racing. Visit fultonspeedway.com for the complete 2017 race schedule.

I will see you at the track.

Words and photos by John Zackary

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