There are very few racing towns like Oswego, New York. Checkered flags and legendary winner’s names align the main street on major race weekends, and kids compete at proving grounds such as the Oswego Kartway and other surrounding Quarter Midget tracks with hopes of one day competing at the 5/8-mile Oswego Speedway coined the “Steel Palace.”
One of those teenagers who realized his dream in 2014 is hometown driver Camden Proud. Although not necessarily a household name outside the region, he has been steadily improving week after week in a Small Block Supermodified winning two heat races to date in his rookie season.
“It’s been a great learning year with a big jump from the Quarter Midgets, and getting used to the power and the letting off,” Proud told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It took me a while to set up the passing coming out of turn two. Just to qualify for my first Classic was great. I can’t complain. I’m pretty happy with it, and I get to live my dream so it’s a good year.”
The annual Budweiser International Classic is the highlight of the year for Supermodified racing. Not only did Proud qualify, but he won his heat race on Friday to solidify a spot toward the front of the field in the next night’s SBS 75-lap feature.
Before posing for the winner’s photo, Camden could be seen sharing the moment with and hugging friends and family members in a sure sight of jubilation. For Camden, the interest and the involvement in racing is something his family has enjoyed for a few decades now.
“My dad (Tim) started to run here in 1994 and my uncle Chris has raced since 2001,” said Proud. “My dad built the car himself and we call it a Proud chassis, and Chris has the other one. That’s what it’s all about, just kind of carrying on the family legacy and to have all these guys behind me; 15 years old and made my dream come true, so it’s awesome.”
To many in the upstate area, Oswego Speedway is a hallowed ground. Some of the best drivers in the business have competed and won at the facility located near Lake Ontario. To add his name to the list of those that have driven there is something Proud takes to heart.
“It means everything to me,” explained Proud. “I’ve been coming here since before I can remember watching in the family section, announcing, looking through the driver rosters, playing with my little toy cars in the stands, and just to be out here is surreal. To think of the names and the Indianapolis 500 drivers that have raced here it’s crazy to process it all.”
In regards to future plans, the strategy is to take things one step at a time. The competition is so diverse at the speedway that the young guns are following in the footsteps of some of the best every race weekend. Despite the learning curve, Proud does have some ambitions for future success.
“I’d like to take my dad’s chassis to victory lane,” said Proud. “I know I can do it and we’ve come really close this year so I kind of would like to finish the job. My next step would be the Supermodifieds. That’s what I would like to do as an ultimate goal honestly, so we’ll just have to wait and see what opportunities come along and keep working hard at that.”
Camden will get one more chance this season to claim his first career feature win with the family Small Block Supermodified in the 50-lap Fall Championship during the Race of Champions weekend on Saturday, September 13.
No matter the end result, the 2014 season has already been a win for Camden Proud and family. Gaining continued experience, perhaps his name could be one of those featured on Bridge Street someday.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo Credit: MoJo Photos