By Mike LeBeoeuf, OSWEGO — Oswego racer Steve Hutchinson is competing successfully in sprint car events this year.
So far, he has raced in four events on the Patriot Sprint Tour and one in the Empire Super Sprints. This weekend, he will race in a pair of ESS events in Canada against the likes of tour standouts Shawn Donath, Chuck Hebing, and others.
“They are some of the best drivers around,” said Hutchinson, a young driver who is a student at Cayuga Community College. He is in the process of finishing his business administration degree.
His education in racing began in quarter midgets at the Oswego County Quarter Midget Club and in Syracuse, as well as races in other states. He then competed in Slingshots at Paradise Speedway for a couple of years.
Last year, he got a chance to drive a small-block super for his uncle Terry Solazzo in the SBS Classic at Oswego Speedway. He made the feature, started last, and worked his way up to 15th before getting in an accident and finishing 24th. After the Oswego Speedway season, Hutchinson raced in a couple of other SBS events.
He made the switch to a sprint car this year. He’s driving a J&J Chassis with a 700-horsepower 360 motor. Sponsors for his racing effort are his family, Gary D’s Roofing, Kevin Battelle Rooter Man Plumbing, Body By Vi, Bush’s Automotive, and Larry’s Oswego Salmon Shop.
“My goal for racing has always been to run with the World of Outlaws,” Hutchinson said. “Sprint cars have always been my favorite.”
Competing on the sprint car circuit might open the door to an eventual World of Outlaws opportunity, he said.
“It’s a chance to impress the right person,” he said. “You never know what can happen.”
To date, Hutchinson is the top runner among rookies on the Patriot Tour. Sitting 12th in the point standings, he has come a long way since his first sprint car race, a Patriot Sprint Tour event in April at Fulton Speedway. At Fulton, he finished 10th in his heat race and eighth in the “B” Main.
“It was my first race in a sprint car. It was like a whole new ballgame,” he said. “I was just trying to get the hang of it in that one.”
He explained that the sprint car is much different than driving the small-block super. “These cars are a lot more powerful,” he said. “It was a big learning curve for me.”
Two weeks ago in a Patriot Sprint Tour event at Woodhull Speedway, Hutchinson made the “A” Main and finished 21st.
“It was a major confidence booster,” he said.
This past Saturday at Stateline Speedway in Busti, near Jamestown, Hutchinson finished third in the “B” Main, and started 24th in the “A” Main. He began in the back of the pack and worked his way up to a 19th-place finish.
“I’ve been making a lot of progress in every main,” he said.
For more information about Hutchinson and the Patriot Sprint Tour, see www.patriotsprinttour.com. For more information about the Empire Super Sprints, see www.empiresupersprints.com.