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Dave Danzer at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (David Sink photo)

Crowd Pleaser: Dave Danzer

For Dave Danzer, New York’s Oswego Speedway holds a special place in his heart.

It’s where his family has spent the majority of their Saturday nights, and it’s also where Danzer scored the biggest victory of his racing career.

A lifelong Oswego resident, Danzer grew up watching his father, Craig Danzer, and uncle, Bill Sharkey, compete in supermodifieds at the track known as “The Steel Palace.” His driving career started in 2010 aboard a limited supermodified.

This past season was, by all accounts, Dave Danzer’s most successful. He scored the biggest victory of his career in September when he took the checkered flag in the International Classic in front of family, friends and hometown fans to the tune of $20,000.

“My grandfather raced at the track in the 1950s. We’re only about two miles from the track,” explained Danzer. “That’s our local track. That’s where my mom also grew up. My father tried to win the Classic for 35 years. He finally got it this year. That was special to me and my family.

“In December, we went out to Las Vegas and won the supermodified portion of the Davey Hamilton Jr.’s Open Wheel Showdown,” Danzer continued. “Las Vegas was a come together. We all talked about it. We were told we got a big block and we’re a lot heavier than those guys. We decided to just go out there and have a good time.

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Dave Danzer in victory lane at The Bullring at Vegas Motor Speedway. (David Sink photo)

“It was definitely a pretty good end to the year. From what we spent to what we made out there we kind of broke even. It was kind of like a free trip to Las Vegas. Some of my guys went and gambled and won big. So it was a pretty good trip for all of us.”

Danzer said wings were important to the outcome in Las Vegas.

“The West Coast guys, their mentality is to just keep adding wings to the car,” Danzer said. “We have a pretty low-drag top wing. It’s a Butch Rally wing kit from New England Racing Supply that we put together. That track just worked out for us. They had enough traction compound on it. It gripped up and fell right into our lap.”

The International Classic is a race in which Danzer has had success since his first start in 2011. It was only a matter of time before he would end up in victory lane.

“You gotta have something reliable. You gotta be there at the end. You gotta run 200 laps and have enough fuel,” Danzer said. “In 2013, we were running fourth with a couple laps to go. We ran out of fuel and ended up eighth. Ever since then we always make sure we have enough fuel.”

There was confusion during this year’s event and Danzer didn’t know he had won until moments after he took the checkered flag.

“Michael Barnes ran out of fuel while leading. He told me it started bogging down with about four las to go,” Danzer recalled. “To be honest, I didn’t know it was him out of fuel. At a certain time of the day in September, the sun right around 5:30 blinds you going into one. All I saw was a silver tail tank. I didn’t know if it was a lapped car. When I crossed the finish line, I thought I finished second. After the cool-down lap, they came across the radio and called me to victory lane.

“The start to my career wasn’t very good. I got made fun of a lot,” Danzer added with a laugh. “I was probably one of the worst limited super drivers in the history of the track. I’ve ended up being a pretty decent super driver. I only had one win while in the limiteds. I tore that thing up. I wrecked a lot. I brought it home on a flatbed a couple of times.”

His supermodified career didn’t get off to a good start either.

“The first night out in a super the throttle stuck and I destroyed the car,” Danzer said. “Everyone thought here he goes again. After that I hooked up with Greg Hawksby and Greg Furlong kind of took me under his wing and coached me along. Ever since then, it’s really worked out for me. You surround yourself with good people and good things happen.”

When the 36-year-old Danzer was asked what he’d like to do moving forward, he explained he’s perfectly content racing supermodifieds.

“This is really what I want to do,” he said. “I want to win every race I can at Oswego and I’ve won all but two and that’s July 4th weekend and Oldtimers Weekend. I’d like to win an ISMA race and win the Oswego track championship. I still have some things to work on. But I’m happy with what I’m doing right now. A lot of what I will do going forward will depend on money this year.”


Birthday: Nov. 20, 1987

Hometown: Oswego, N.Y.

Series: Oswego Speedway, International Supermodified Series

Sponsors: Chris Burgess, Scott Stefenco Investing, Mardon Simulators, Port City Collision, Russ Marsden Engines.