The ‘Flying Fireman’ from Fulton, Patrick is a many-time Pathfinder Bank SBS feature winner with his familiar No. 9, which was changed to 90 during his move up to the big block ranks in 2019.
While he would enjoy moderate success in his first two Supermodified seasons, Patrick really pushed through major adversity a year ago, managing a 10th place finish in the point standings with a total of seven top 10 finishes in eight features including a pair of top five runs, highlighted by his first career podium finish on July 16.
“We had a decent season last year,” offered Patrick. “My goal from the get go when I started out racing Supers was to try to get a podium finish and a top 10 in points. I never set my goals high, I figured that if I got there and then I would adjust and we did last year. The way all that turned out was a big surprise, especially after we blew the engine. That was heartbreak on a night we were running so well.”
Heartbreak indeed - for a low budget operation such as Patrick’s, a blown engine while solidly holding the second spot to Brandon Bellinger in his July 2 heat race, would spell a potentially season ending catastrophe for the popular driver, who at that point in time needed a miracle.
As it would turn out, a miracle is what Jack got, thanks to loyal sponsors and an outpouring of support from Oswego Speedway faithful, who like only Supermodified fans know how; aided in ensuring that Patrick’s season not only would continue, but that he would be able to get back on the track for the Summer Championship only two weeks later.
Discussing the outpouring of support, Patrick said, “I had so many people step up to help with small donations and some bigger ones from my sponsors and luckily we were able to get back out there, but without all of those people and Terry Johnson who helps on my crew I would be done racing and that’s a fact. I do most of it out of my pocket, but I do have some great sponsor help too and that’s a big deal. It’s what keeps this going. Ironically, the night we lost the engine, my biggest sponsor; Nacho Farm Tattoo Lover Tree Farm, all those people were in the stands. It was their first time coming to watch, so that was a big deal because they came down before the races to check everything out, and then caught the heat race when the engine blew. I think they saw we had a good run going, I was catching Bellinger for a second there, his car was getting bigger and bigger, so I was getting excited and then right there, ‘boom’ and that was the end of that. I really thought we were done, so having those people step up was everything. I had a few people ask about donating on Facebook and how they could help me, so I put a post up there and low and behold, a lot of people stepped up and I got a couple thousand dollars out of it. A lot of fans helped out a ton and that’s what makes this sport great, it really does. Supermodified racing is so expensive, but people love it and that’s why I got into it.”
Of his first career top three finish in a Supermodified, the seven-time SBS feature winner said,” That podium, and really that whole night was just a dream. To be able to even move up to the Supermodified class after more than 20 years in the Limiteds was a dream in itself. Starting out, we started out slow and worked our way up to speed, but I never thought we’d get to run in the top five, or lead a feature, or even podium. I’d really like to win a heat because first you have to do that before winning a feature, but to be on the podium for the first time last year next to guys like Shullick and Abold was just surreal for me. I mean, I went to Oswego since I was 10 years old and I grew up watching their fathers and I just couldn’t believe it. I told myself if nothing else good ever happened again for the rest of my career, then I’m happy I made it to the podium in the Supermodified class. To go out, right then and there, after all that had happened two weeks earlier and the work we put in, it was like, ‘wow, there is a god.’ You’d never believe that after all that time and effort you put in that things are going to go so well. You hope, but you never think that things are going to go better than they ever did before. The car was a lot of fun to drive that night I had a riot.”
Having as much fun now as at any point in his career, Patrick has been a fixture at the Oswego Speedway for nearly three decades, and will again compete for the full commitment schedule in 2023, as he has done in nearly every single season since his Limited Super debut in 1996.
“We are going to run the full season again this year and then hopefully run a few of the winged shows depending on what I can get done with my engine,” said Patrick. “We’ve stripped the car down to the frame this year and found lots of small, little things, nothing big, but made a couple of changes to it and we are starting to put it back together. I will be looking for hopefully more of the same from last year. It’s nice to just have fun. I love driving the car and it’s a rush. I’ve gotten used to the speed now, which was hard to do at first. But, if we can do a lot like we did last year, I’d like to have a couple podiums, hopefully get a heat win, and maybe even get out front early to lead a feature and see if we can hang on. I’m pretty confident that we will be good early this season though, because we have a good engine now. Once I got that new one in there last year to replace the one we blew up, what a difference. I couldn’t believe it. Now, we just have to get the car to go good with the engine we have and then I think we’ll be good, so we are doing that this winter and putting the time in so hopefully it pays off.”
With the Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified Jim Shampine Memorial and International Classic now a part of John Nicotra’s five-race ‘Challenge,’ Patrick will automatically be eligible for Challenge points. When asked if he would plan to compete in the three winged shows, his answer as of right now was “we’ll see,” but he did have high praise for Nicotra.
“I think the new challenge series is great,” mentioned Patrick. “What John is doing is what the sport needs and if we could get more Johns out there and the people needed to support him, I think that the division would thrive. If we can get more fans to come and hopefully get purses up a little bit, there will be more cars, but I think he is doing a great thing and it's going to be pretty interesting to see how many ISMA guys will come down and run the Oswego shows and same the other way as far as how many Oswego guys will strap the wing on. We are hoping to do it, but just not sure yet. It depends what happens with our engine rebuild.”
It's safe to say that when Jack began his racing journey over 27 years ago, the 58 year old did not think he would still be doing it nearly 30 seasons later. Patrick has accomplished essentially everything he has hoped for in his career; those seven wins, a Supermodified podium, and more impressively; the consistency he has demonstrated. Jack sits second to only Mike Bond in SBS all-time points, fifth in all-time top fives with 51, and third in all-time top tens at a staggering 141, so, what is next, and how long does Patrick want to keep at it? With the aid of former competitor Terry Johnson at his disposal, he hopes the answer to that question is “as long as possible.”
“You know, a couple of years ago I was getting discouraged because I had almost no help and very little knowledgeable Supermodified experience if any around me,” explained Patrick. “Then, low and behold somebody by the name of Terry Johnson showed up for us. He knows so much stuff about the cars and race track and he just got me going. I honestly was only going to do the Super for a couple of years, but now I’ve got some good help so I think I will keep going. As long as I have sponsors and help I’ll do it as long as I can, but I really can’t thank Terry and all of the crew enough. Without them and the sponsors, I couldn’t ever do this. I really have to have it all because if I lose any part of it, I’m done, for sure, so those people keep me going.”
Patrick once again hopes to have support lined up from Nacho Farm Tattoo Lover Tree Farm, Longley Brothers Dodge, EZ Companies, Pro One Builder, Cuyler Property Management, RW Penfield Construction, Tim Gmeiner, Pro Tile LLC, Ware Brothers Carpet and Duct Cleaning, Red Baron Pizza, and Miller Machine & Mechanical for the 2023 season.
The Patrick Racing crew includes Terry Johnson, Ben King, Don Patrick, Lisa Nash, Cheryl and Rusty Natoli, and Joe Hart.
Oswego Speedway’s 72nd Season Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, May 27th. The lid lifter will again feature the 75-lap Jim Shampine Memorial for Novelis Supermodifieds, 35-lap Tony White Memorial for Pathfinder Bank SBS, and a 30-lap Memorial Weekend Special for the J&S Paving 350 Supermodifieds.
For more information, please visit OswegoSpeedway.com, or you can connect with the track on social media by clicking LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or Instagram @OfficialOswegoSpeedway.
About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. The 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 the Oswego Speedway making it the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds and 350 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, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, and former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.