Utica-Rome Speedway Changing Headline Division | Performance Racing Industry
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Utica-Rome Speedway Changing Headline Division
September 6, 2017
Owners Bill and Kim Shea have decided it is time to make a change to the weekly Sunday night program, so next year’s headline division will be the DIRTcar 358-Modifieds. The speedway was a DIRTcar 358-Modified track in 1986 and then again from 1999-2004.
Utica-Rome Speedway Changing Headline Division

After much discussion and deliberation, Utica-Rome Speedway is turning back the clock to help improve the future of stock car racing at the storied Route 5 dirt oval.

Owners Bill and Kim Shea have decided it is time to make a change to the weekly Sunday night program, so next year’s headline division will be the DIRTcar 358-Modifieds.

According to Tuesday’s press release, the change is being made in conjunction with the move by Fulton Speedway, another Central New York dirt track that has a long history of sanctioning weekly racing for small block Modifieds.

Utica-Rome Speedway was a DIRTcar 358-Modified track in 1986 and then again from 1999-2004 before allowing big block Modifieds to compete.

The decision was made after Fulton Speedway promoter John Wight and Bill and Kim Shea looked at the rising cost for race teams to field a competitive big block Modified as well as the growing popularity of the Sportsman division.

“I’ve owned cars and the difference between owning a competitive big block and small block is staggering,” Bill Shea said. “The big blocks are just getting too expensive. We think the switch to small blocks will help save teams some money and also bring in some new blood to the division. We’ve seen car counts throughout Central New York drop because guys just can’t afford it anymore. We hope this will help bring them back.”

Since the inception of the “crate” engine in the Sportsman ranks, the car counts in that division have continued to grow.

“We’ve had nearly 100 different Sportsman teams compete with us at Utica-Rome this year,” Bill Shea said. “There are several teams that want to make the jump up to the Modifieds but they simply can’t do it because of the economics. By switching to the small blocks, we are giving them an opportunity to move up and be competitive.”

As part of Super DIRT Week XLVI, the DIRTcar 358-Modified series returns to Utica-Rome Tuesday, October 3. The DIRTcar Sportsman and the Cole Cup for 360 Sprints are also part of that program, and racing begins at 7 p.m.

Rain this past Sunday forced the final points night racing to be cancelled, so Matt Sheppard (Modifieds), Matt Janczuk (Sportsman) and Mike Welch (Pro Stocks) are this year’s Utica-Rome Speedway champions.

It’s the third straight track title for Sheppard, and his fourth overall. He had seven wins and finished in the top five in 10 of 11 races, and finished 60 points ahead of runner-up Pat Ward. Janczuk also captured his fourth track title. The Durhamville driver won only one feature, but he had 10 top-five finishes in 12 races and beat out Rome’s Chris Mackey for the title. Welch had five Pro Stock wins and he won the points race over Shane Henderson and Jim Normoyle, the 2008 champion from Salisbury Center.

This Sunday, Sept. 10, Utica-Rome Speedway is hosting the highest-paying Sportsman event of the season. The Ultimate Sportsman Showdown pays $5,000-to-win and $500 to start. The pit gates open at 1 p.m., the grandstands open at 2:30 p.m., and racing begins at 4 p.m.