OSWEGO — Amid Super DIRT Week’s fourth year in Oswego, racing officials say plans are in the works to keep the event in Oswego for years to come and local leaders are touting the annual event as an economic boost for the area.
Super DIRT Week first came to Oswego Speedway in 2016 after more than 40 years in Syracuse, and were welcomed with open arms by city and county leadership. Three years later, with the event expected to bring more than 30,000 fans and inject millions of dollars into the local economy, DIRTcar Racing officials say they’re looking to make Oswego the long-term home for the racing series’ premier event.
The Oswego community has been very welcoming in comparison to other locations throughout the county, according to DIRT Car Racing CEO Brian Carter, who said the organization is “very active” in finalizing an agreement that would keep the annual event in Oswego for “at least another three years.”
“We’re working on an agreement that would be even longer term than that,” Carter said this week. “I’m very optimistic about Oswego being the long-term home for Super DIRT Week.”
Staying in Oswego long-term would provide DIRTcar with stability and certainty to make future investments in Oswego, Carter said, and creating an improved racing experience for visitors. Carter said Oswego has an “incredible racing history” and combining that with Super DIRT Week has created “such a special week.”
“It’s nice to see how that all works together,” he said. “You couldn’t create what we’re doing here in Oswego anywhere else. We wouldn’t be able to replicate that anywhere.”
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said Super DIRT Week continues to be “a great asset for the community,” bringing tens of thousands of visitors into the city who otherwise likely wouldn’t have traveled to Oswego. Barlow said the annual event adds to the Port City’s racing history and offers another platform in which to promote the community.
The city, Barlow said, has seen a noticeable spike in sales tax revenue since DIRT Week came to Oswego, noting the month of October previously would net the city roughly $1.2 million in sales tax revenue but in recent years has brought about $1.5 million.
“I believe it is a direct correlation,” Barlow said. “We also know our local establishments like grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and hotels, particularly on the east side, have seen a spike in business. It is undoubtedly an economic generator and the influx of people certainly stimulates our local economy.”
Oswego County Director of Planning and Community Development Dave Turner said DIRTcar officials estimate a roughly $12 million economic impact along with about 35,000 fans and hundreds of competitors.
“There are all kinds of things that people are spending their money on here,” Turner said of the economic impact of DIRT Week, noting in addition to the final races in Oswego there are other events in the county in Fulton and Brewerton. “Sure it helps. Any other community would be happy to have that kind of impact.”
Turner also said Oswego has a history as a racing town and the community has seemed to embrace Super DIRT Week, with city and county officials supporting the event in a variety of ways.
“The Super DIRT Week organizers seem to like the reception that they’ve had here and I think we’ve developed some good partnerships, not just in the tourism office but with law enforcement, EMS and emergency planning,” Turner said. “If they need help making it come together, we’re here, and I think the city probably feels the same way. We’re happy to bring resources if needed to make that happen.”
With DIRT Week officially in Oswego through next year, Barlow said he would do “whatever it takes” to keep the event in the Port City. Planning for the event has become easier for the city and venue each year, Barlow said, adding it’s a pleasure to work with the Torressee family, DIRTcar staff and the county each year.
“Going on our fourth year, we’ve realized the economic benefits to hosting the event, we’ve worked out the logistics and planning challenges—it’s become a rather routine event as far as city operations are concerned—and it is a huge asset to our community.”
Barlow said he would welcome DIRT Week back to Oswego time and time again and hopes to have a long lasting relationship with DIRTcar moving forward. Oswego “feels like you’re at home,” Carter said, noting “it’s quite refreshing to have a very welcoming environment” from the business community and local leaders.
“We want to build a long-term relationship with the city, the people and the community of Oswego so that there’s no doubt about where we want to be for the 50th, which is coming up soon, and the years beyond that,” Carter said.
Oswego Speedway and local officials have “bent over backwards to help” make the Port City the home of Super DIRT Week, Carter said, adding “it would be a shame to even think about” moving DIRT Week to another location. Carter expressed gratitude for the fans and community for being so welcoming, saying DIRTcar welcomes everyone out to enjoy this weekend’s racing.
“We’re into year four and we couldn’t be more excited,” Carter said, adding the racing in recent years has been “incredible” and “exciting,” with Oswego providing a neutral racing venue in which no racer has a home track advantage.