Wednesday, 15 January 2014 12:45

Syrell Racing Continues Longstanding Journey at Oswego

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Syrell Racing hired former ISMA Supermodified champion, Mike Lichty, to drive the No. 08 in the 2013 Oswego Speedway Budweiser International Classic. Syrell Racing hired former ISMA Supermodified champion, Mike Lichty, to drive the No. 08 in the 2013 Oswego Speedway Budweiser International Classic. Paul Murphy photo

     Oswego Speedway's Novelis Supermodified division will gain another weekly race team in 2014, with the return of Syrell Racing to the 'Steel Palace' for its 25th consecutive season of Supermodified competition.

     A longtime crew member, car owner, and driver; Gary Syrell will once again field a full-time Supermodified effort in 2014, and with the help of his son Eric, the team will begin a new chapter and relationship with driver Michael Barnes and crew chief Joe Hawksby Jr.

     "The 2014 season looks to be the best ever for our team," said Syrell Racing co-owner, Eric Syrell. "We are putting together a new partnership with Joey Hawksby Jr. and Hawk Chassis Inc. We are going to be out for the opener with a brand new 2014 Hawk Chassis, the Hawk 'House Car', and it will be maintained right out of the Hawk shop in Minetto, NY with Joey serving as the crew chief."

     For the first time, the brand new Syrell Racing Supermodified will field a different number from its historical No. 08. Numbered as a tribute to the late Jim Shampine, Gary Syrell used the No. 08 for several seasons as a driver before exiting the driver's seat for future Syrell Racing shoes Doug Didero, Dave McKnight, and Mike Lichty.

     In 2014, Syrell Racing's latest pilot Michael Barnes will wheel the family owned machine as No. 68.

     "The combination of the numbers 6 and 8 will be a combined tribute to both 'Irish' Jack Murphy as well as Jim Shampine," said Syrell. "All of us at Syrell Racing admire both of these pioneers of our sport and hope to honor their memories with much success this season. The No. 08 will continue with the team and will stay on our older style Hawk car."

     Syrell Racing has seen its share of success in the past ten seasons, dating back to its days with Doug Didero at the controls. Didero sat on the outside of the front row for the 2004 Budweiser International Classic driving the Syrell No. 08, before giving the team its first win in July of 2005.

     Canadian racer Dave McKnight took the helm of the No. 08 in 2006, nearly racing to victory in that year's Budweiser Classic. From that point on, McKnight was a main stay in the Syrell seat up until 2012. During that span McKnight won two more Oswego features for the team, and finished in the top five of the Speedway's championship battle in 2010.

     In 2011, the McKnight/Syrell duo led the Speedway's championship standings for several weeks, before eventually slipping to 8th in the final rundown.

Work commitments have kept the Syrell team away from weekly racing the past two seasons, but with the introduction of Michael Barnes as their driver in 2014, Syrell Racing is ready to once again contend for an Oswego Speedway championship.

     "When Michael (Barnes) made himself available for this season, we wanted him to become the pilot for this team," said Syrell. "Gary, Joey, and I believe that Michael is one of the best drivers racing at Oswego Speedway and we are very excited to have him become a part of this team."

     Barnes began his Supermodified driving career at Oswego in 2005, driving the Joe Witkum No. 85 in the Budweiser Classic.

     From there, Barnes quickly moved his way through the ranks in 2006.

     Barnes first found a part-time ride in the Furlong Racing No. 72, before landing in the Double Deuce Racing No. 22 in August of that year to help prepare the machine for Bentley Warren's Classic bid in September.

     In dramatic fashion, Barnes would drive the No. 22 to victory on August 5, 2006 in only his 5th Supermodified start, a victory that would catapult him to a full-time ride with the team in 2007.

     The 2007 season brought two more feature wins for Barnes and Double Deuce Racing, as well as a runner-up finish in the championship standings.

     From 2008-2010 Barnes saw stints with Supermodified car owners Clyde Booth, Chris Osetek and Steve Buske, Ray Graham, and Gary Morton, but it was in 2012 that Barnes made a full-time return to Oswego driving the Strong Racing No. 99.

     Barnes quickly returned to form, winning two main events in 2012, adding another five Top5 finishes in 2013.

     Barnes moves to Syrell Racing in 2014 with five career Supermodified wins at Oswego; tied with Sam Sessions, Dave Shullick Sr., Jim Winks, and Russ Wood.

     For more information Syrell Racing be sure to visit online at and LIKE them on Facebook.

     For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit You can also LIKE the (Official) Oswego Speedway page on, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway. To purchase tickets or to order merchandise please call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.

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