<Jack Speno-Lenny H. Sammons Outstanding Service Award winner.
In 1970, a new relationship began when Jack Speno stopped in to buy a new snowmobile and met Glen Donnelly. Jack started to hang around the tower and the pace car. Now this guy would drive with perfection. At the races he got to meet Will Cagle. Cagle told him, “You’ve got to set the pace car up like a race car. You should put 50 pounds of air in the right rear, 45 pounds in the right front, 35 pounds in the left front and 30 pounds in the left rear to make the car handle.”
Well it worked, but you needed to go 65 mph at Rolling Wheels and 45 mpg at Weedsport. Now one night at the Wheels we had a VW Siracco- the caution comes out late in the race, with Cagle leading. Well Jack powered to the front to take control of the field but only was doing 50 mph. Cagle hit the back of the pace car and drove him down the front chute at 80 mph. Jack did make it through turn one, however at the end of the night there was over $2,500 damage to the pace car Jack presented Cagle with the bill, which he paid or he would not race again.
One time at Syracuse, driving a 1977 Monte Carlo, coming off the second turn, doing about 80 mph, Jack thought he was to exit coming off the fourth turn. Then all of a sudden Glen came over the radio and said, “Exit Now!” Jack floored it and turned to the left. He went onto the cinder track, hit a ditch and the car went airborne, sideways and then straight. By sheer luck Jack was able to bring the car around to the front stretch. Glen had raidoed, “Jack I thought you were in trouble.” Jack radioed back, “I’ve got it under control Glen, but he might have to change my shorts.”
Jack has been just that, “I’ve got it under control”. That has been his job with DIRT over the years. He has served as a ambassador of the tower, making sure that all of the VIPs are having a good time and signing them up for another tower night.
He has been the face that race winners have seen first, controlling victory lane, managing the photos and making sure the photos make it to who they are to go to after the event is over. He has worked tracks at Weedsport, Canandaigua, Rolling Wheels, Syracuse, Orange County, Monroe County, Erie County, Volusia, East Bay, Brewerton, Fulton, Oswego and Cayuga International in Canada.
When Glen wanted a museum for his Classic Cars, Jack took the bull by the horn, and opened up the Museum, along with a racing Hall of Fame. He sold cars out of the museum, set up events at the museum and managed the day-to-day operations, including getting race cars for the museum. It seems to have been a labor of love for him.
“I have to thank Glen Donnelly, Rich Rubinstein, Robin Manus and the “Chief” for all they have done with me.
Andy Fusco Story
The show was co-sponsored by the Part-Plus stores in Auburn,Oswego, Union Springs, and Wolcott, plus Keuka Distributing near Penn Yan. More than 20 aftermarket automotive parts vendors had display stations set up in the aisles among the Hall's vintage race cars and
antique muscle cars. Invited attendees were the region's preferred Parts-Plus customers, such as municipal mechanics, repair shop owners, and farmers.
"We regularly present aftermarket trade shows in Rochester, Potsdam, and Jamestown," said event co-ordinator Bill Baker, Parts-Plus' Regional Director. "So to be able to have this show covering the area just west of Syracuse was a great opportunity for us. And this museum is a great place for the show. Everybody in here is a car guy, and the memorabilia in this museum is car guy's dream come true."
Vendors working the show were unanimous in their praise of the venue. "What a fantastic layout," exclaimed Exide Battery rep Dan Frateschi of Syracuse. "There's lots of interesting things to see. This is my first visit ever to the DIRT Hall of Fame, but it won't be
Following the trade show, dinner was served on site for over 150 guests. The dinner was catered by Kosta's Restaurant of Auburn.
While the April 3rd Parts-Plus gala was the first such event ever conducted at the DIRT Hall of Fame, the facility's curator Jack Speno promised that some additional similar promotions at the museum will be announced soon. "We have a beautiful building and handsome
grounds, courtesy of a generous $1 a year lease from the World Racing Group," said Speno. "So we are aggressively seeking to host more automotive-related events of all types. It's time to put this facility to full use."
Speno also made note of the Hall of Fame's new website, the URL
for which is:
Designed by the DIRT Hall of Fame's webmaster Karl Schartner, the website plans to tout not only the Hall's activities, but also the activities of the museum's sponsoring speedways and
corporations. "We want our website to become an information center for all of our racing supporters in the region," said Schartner. "Our site will easily link our fans to the schedules and websites of the various other speedways, organizations, and underwriters who
support the Hall."
Along those lines, the DIRT Hall of Fame has kicked off a major membership drive. Speno advises potential friends of the Hall to go to the website, where detailed information and membership forms are posted for persons and companies who want to join and/or sponsor the
Hall of Fame. Volunteers to staff and assist in Hall projects are also wanted. Speno's thoughts concerning the museum's financial need for members and sponsors was echoed by the Hall's attorney, Andy Fusco. "It is no secret that the DIRT Hall of Fame has been on financial thin ice in recent years," Fusco said. "We now desperately need the fiscal support of the public in order to survive. The Hall is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) charitable entity, so all contributions to it are fully tax deductible."
The DIRT Hall of Fame and Classic Car Museum is open from Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays this Spring and Summer. The next major event on the facility's calendar is the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, slated for Sunday afternoon May 27, 2012.