Weedsport, NY — May 17, 2010 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Northeast PR Director
*John Ferlito Photo: Jeff Brownell Sr. & Jr.
Championship Team owner Jeff Brownell Sr. from Waterloo, New York will receive the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame ‘Gene DeWitt Outstanding Car Owner’ Award in 2010. The 19th annual driver inductions and special award ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, May 30 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the annual Memorial Day Weekend holiday show at the Weedsport speedway.
Capped off by a dramatic Big-Block victory in the prestigious Syracuse 200 during Super DIRT Week XXXVIII on the famed Syracuse Mile last autumn, Brownell emerged as one of the most successful car owners on the DIRTcar Racing NE circuit in ’10.
“Winning big races and championships is what you try to do, it’s what everybody has in mind starting out,” remarked Brownell, 60, a Central New York lifer, who is also recognized nationally in the oil business through his former Junell Corp. and Advanced Lubrication Specialties monikers. Today, his XTreme Lubricants squad is headed by Super DIRTcar Series standout Matt Sheppard (#9s) and teammate Jeff Brownell Jr. (#29). “When you can come out on top it certainly helps make up for all the hard work put in throughout the year.”
With Sheppard reuniting with JB Motorsports in 2008, the combination has been clicking ever since. From scoring a thrilling victory at Virginia Motor Speedway to open the ‘08 Super DIRTcar Series, to taking center stage last October at the New York State Fairgrounds, ‘Super Matt’ racked up 26 Big-Block feature wins including eight on tour. He clinched Canandaigua Speedway and Brewerton Speedway season titles a year ago while Jeff Jr. grabbed a half-dozen checkered flags and successfully defended his Glen Ridge Motorsports Park points championship.
“I guess winning Mr. DIRT is the team’s only goal right now, in my mind we were the best last year, just came up four points short,” remarked Brownell, who watched 2nd-generation chauffeur Sheppard score a Super DIRTcar Series-best seven victories, including the final three shows. He also led almost every other major category, with 6 Fast Time awards, 8 qualifying heat race wins and 699 laps led during his first 20-win season which was the standard on the demanding DIRTcar Big-Block circuit. “Hopefully, Jeff can get healthy and get a few more wins and continue to improve in the series.”
A serious intestinal infection forced Jeff Jr. to miss the SDS lid-lifter at Hagerstown Speedway in March and he was the final tour regular to make his maiden voyage of ’10 at Fulton Speedway. The 27 year-old gained instant notoriety after his backstretch barrel-roll at Volusia Speedway Park during the Florida DIRTcar Nationals in February that was posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/DIRTcarRacing.
While Jeff Sr. officially became a car owner for the first time in 1999 after purchasing a Small-Block Modified for his son to compete at Black Rock Speedway, his involvement in motorsports spans more than a half-century. As his hometown was a renowned hot bed for car racing in the 1950s, it was a mere formality that Maple Grove Speedway just minutes from his house in Waterloo would provide the first experience.
“My father took me to the track when I was 4, all I can remember is ‘Wee’ Willie Allan, he was a regular winner back in those days,” recalled Brownell, who has since made direct ties with some of today’s biggest winners, putting modern-day pilots Danny Johnson, Jimmy Horton and A.J. Romano in his own cars during the new millennium. “I started going quite a bit more when I got older, even used to sneak in through the horse stalls with my brother when I was 10 or 11. Getting into the races back then was just as fun watching the car go around sometimes.”
A brief stint with Late Model driver Jim Jarvis in the early 1970s served as a springboard that would launch Brownell on a career helping out numerous racers with on-track essentials. As a sales rep for the Quaker State refinery, he was able to supply oil and lubrication products, and on occasion bought tires to provide additional support.
Brownell retained close ties in the Late Model ranks, helping the late Jeff Kappesser earn full-fender crowns at founding DIRTcar tracks Canandaigua (1974), Cayuga County (1975) and Rolling Wheels (1977). ‘Kappy’ made his Big-Block debut in 1978, eventually sharing the 1982 Florida DIRTcar Nationals title. Brownell got a taste of asphalt racing along the way, assisting Supermodified chauffeur Chuck Ciprich at Oswego Speedway as the decade of the 1980s unfolded.
Continuing to remain loyal to the local racing fraternity, Brownell joined forces with fellow Waterloo, New Yorker Steve Paine in the mid-80s. In what would be the longest tenure of his career with any one team, 15 years, Paine went on to win the overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Championship when the new millennium finally arrived.
“Winning Syracuse was obviously a big one, but when Matt finished second to Danny (Johnson) and gave us a 1-2 finish at Eldora, that was pretty special too,” noted Brownell, alluding to the rare appearance by the Big-Block Modifieds to one of the nation’s premier ovals in 2003, back then owned by the legendary Earl Baltes. “When Jeff won his first feature at Cayuga County Fair Speedway (2003), he came back and won a month later, that’s something I’ll always remember.”
Fans turning out last July for the inaugural All-Star 100 at Cayuga County will certainly remember four of the familiar green ‘Xtreme’ Modifieds making the starting grid for the richest short-track race in Big-Block history. While Sheppard (3rd) was the highest finisher chasing $20,000 winner Ryan Phelps across the line, Brownell placed 12th while Tim McCreadie (#9m) and Pete Bicknell (#29b) finished 14th and 22nd respectively in the back-up JB Motorsports mounts..
“I’ve just always been around racing, so it was a lot fun having Matt and Jeff both do well last year,” added Brownell, who also initiated the ‘Xtreme Lubricants Slick Move of the Race’ award last season that is given at each Super DIRTcar Series event. While Sheppard was selected for making the ‘Xtreme Slick Move of the Year,’ in a fine gesture Brownell turned over his $500 prize at the DIRTcar Racing Northeast ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet to Four Star owner Vinny Salerno and his driver Michael Storms following the late-season theft of their Big-Block Modifieds. “Maybe this year will be the most memorable yet, (Mr. DIRT) is what our team has been gearing up for as soon as last season ended.”
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event —Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse runs annually in October featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.allstar100weekend.com and www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.