Weedsport, NY — May 21, 2010 – By Herb Anastor, Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Buffy Swanson has always had a way with words. She has used those skills and talents for the betterment of dirt track Modified stock car racing not only as a popular writer and columnist, but also as a very capable track public relations director.
Because of her success in these demanding positions she will be recognized alongside track officials Tana Robinson and Judy Snyderman as a co-recipient of the 9th annual Gater Racing News “Outstanding Woman in Racing” award during the 2010 Northeast Modified Hall of Fame ceremonies Sunday, May 30 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds held in conjunction with the annual Memorial Day Weekend holiday show at Weedsport Speedway.
A Staten Island native, Buffy first became involved with racing back in 1967 at the old Weissglass Stadium where her future husband, Jim Swanson, and his best friend had a Jalopy. When the one-fifth mile asphalt oval closed in 1972, she and Jim —who was the fabricator on Whitey Kidd’s Roger Laureno-driven No. 125 Modified— transplanted their racing activities to the dirt tracks of New Jersey at Bridgeport and the old Flemington and East Windsor speedways.
In 1978, the Swansons moved to their current residence in Jackson, N.J., and she soon got her first job in racing journalism doing the advertising layouts for Area Auto Racing News.
“We had race cars and we were involved with race cars, and I’d start reading some of the stuff [that was submitted to AARN] and realized that it wasn’t the whole story,” Buffy said. “So, I said to [editor] Lenny Sammons that I wanted to try and be a writer.”
“It was different back then as opposed to now where anybody with half a thought in their head throws it up on the Internet and all of a sudden they’re a writer. I had to prove to Lenny that I could do it. There was some set of ethics and some set of standards. He was a real good teacher and I learned on the job.”
After her tenure with Area Auto Racing News (1979-1982), Buffy was hired by Val Lesieur to write 50 columns a year and cover some 100 dirt-track Modified events a season for Speedway Scene (1982-1990). And all of this writing and traveling took place while she was holding down a full-time job and raising the Swansons’ two kids – daughter Brenn, who is named after famed car owner Ken Brenn Sr., and son Tighe, who is named after former Modified racer Tighe Scott.
Buffy’s award-winning journalistic work received more national exposure as she served as a Contributing Editor for Circle Track Magazine (1984-1986), a Senior Editor for Stock Car Racing Magazine (1986-1999), a Senior Editor for Trackside Magazine (1990-1996), and as a Contributing Editor for Speedway Illustrated Magazine (1999-2001).
Yet writing about the many aspects of dirt-track Modified racing was not her only way of serving the sport as when her husband became the race director at the New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway in 1998 she came along to handle the track’s public relations duties, a position she held until the end of the 2006 racing season when the speedway changed ownership.
“P.R. writing was easy for me,” remarked Buffy, as she spoke of the differences between that kind of work and putting together an in-depth trade paper or magazine feature story. “But in those nine seasons, I never left New Egypt before having the results out by midnight. And if I had any claim to fame it was that they always had a quote from the winner and gave a pretty succinct idea of what happened. And everybody had the results before they got home.”
Although Buffy admits that working on the public relations/administrative side of racing is much different than working as a writer, she offers that the Grosso Family that the Swansons worked for at New Egypt Speedway made even the most hectic of times worthwhile.
Since Buffy and Jim —who retired a few years ago after working for 30 years at UPS— left New Egypt, they have been “kind-of retired from racing” and now spend a lot of time with their new grandson Enzo, the first child for Brenn and her husband Anthony Parzial. They also take their black 1971 Oldsmobile 442 to various “cruise nights” and make several trips a year to some of the race tracks that they haven’t ever been to, or to some of the tracks where old friends are still racing and/or working.
How does Buffy Swanson, who has been designing political mail and media for the Republican Party on a nationwide level since 1983, feel about being recognized as one of the recipients of this year’s award?
“For years I’ve kind of held DIRT’s feet to the fire a lot of times,” she said, “so it’s kind of interesting that while we’ve been at odds with each other, either at New Egypt or before when I was writing, that now at the end of the day there is sort of a mutual respect. And it’s nice to see that they are thinking of me in that way.”
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.
The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and Chizmark & Larson Insurance www.chizmarklarson.com, and contingency sponsors are Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, MSD Ignition www.msdignition.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Vicci Racing Apparel www.vicci.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.