By JOHN HILLFrom an odd, bird-cage-looking car that launched his racing career
at Oswego Speedway 18 years ago to a unique, rear- engine
super-modified that today is the fastest shorttrack race car in the
world, Jimmy Shampine of Clay is regarded as one of the nation's
foremost weekend racers.
He has 79 feature race victories to his credit, several
long-distance, big-buck race wins and six Oswego season track
He has done it all locally on a track where just a single feature
victory is savored by most of his peers like the conquering of
Now at 38, Shampine, whose name today is as respected in local
racing as is A.J. Foyt's at Indy, is thinking of moving on in
racing as have other talented drivers before him.
"I'm looking for new challenges, new horizons to go after" Shampine
said recently. "I feel like Vince Lombardi did - that it is more
fun to create than stay where you are. Oswego doesn't have
motivation for me anymore, The challenge is gone".
"I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do next year", he
continued. "I have been thinking of building another car and
possibly running in some USAC championship races. But I won't be
running on a regular basis at Oswego next year".
If Shampine does go fully into Indianapolis car racing in 1980, he
will be the first Central New York driver ever to do so.
Shampine began his racing career at Oswego when super-modified
racing was new and Syracusan Nolan Swift was the driver to beat.
But in the last 10 years, the system of numbers prevailed and
Shampine has dominated not only Oswego racing, but competition at
supermod tracks all over the East.
There are not many people in racing who put so much into their
sport and are able to perform nearly all the tasks necessary to
fielding a winning race team. Shampine is smart, thoroughly knows
his business and works very hard at it.
Two years ago he built a front-engine race car that was radical in
that the engine and entire driveline was placed far to the left (15
inches) of the car's center.
The design proved to be a revolution, breaking lap speed records
with ease and winning a record 11 straight features in 1978.
Last winter, while the rest of the supermod builders were copying
Shampine's design, he turned the tables on them and built another
revolution of design thinking with Kevin Reap. Enter the second
fastest short track racer in just two years. .
"The front-engine car proved our thinking of getting the major car
weight to the left for cornering," Shampine says. "The only thing
left was to get the fuel weight to the left-center beside the
driver, so the engine went in the rear."
Now Shampine thinks his super-fast design can beat the conventional
rear- engine cars of Indianapolis racing on the shorter tracks
perhaps even show them a thing or two at Indy as well.
Last Saturday night, Shampine suffered his first race injuries ever
while trying to make a winner of his new car when a small, rear
suspension "heim-joint" broke and he hit a wall.
At first it appeared he might miss his first Oswego supermod race
in 17 years (a record he and his crew of Chuck Strutz, Bob Barzee,
Chuck Zysk, Brett Barnett and John Hatter are proud of), but
Thursday it was discovered his injuries were not as serious as at
Tonight at Oswego, having been pronounced physically. fit to race,
Shampine will drive his front-engine backup car in twin 35 lap
features in hopes of maintaining a slim point lead in his quest of
a record seventh super modified track title.
After that, the popular Liverpool auto parts supplier is looking to
the future in something other than weekly super-modified
"If I do race at Oswego, it won't be every week. I Just don't get a
kick out of it any more," said the man who has brought an exciting
change to local racing like no other has in many years. . .