Jason Bonsignore Racing - The Glory Days Are Back!
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Champion Speedway
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champion Speedway Logo Champion Speedway began in 1975. It immediately became an entertainment star with its "Sunday Night Speedway" program attracting thousands of spectators weekly. The facility boomed for a ten year period but unfortunately, went through a traumatic period where it closed twice over the next decade due to ownership and promoter changes, and legal problems. since coming back to life in 1997, thanks to JBR, it has blossomed again.
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1978 National, Owego, NY - Jason Bonsignore in audience at two years old 1978 National, Owego, NY
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– Track Timeline –
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1975
Founded by Jack Crawford and Joe Biesecker
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1976
Hosted the first East Coast National Championship which was won by Norm Robinson
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1977
Hosted the first US Open Championship, which would go on to become one of the most prestegious events in North America. The winner was Californian, Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz
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1978
"Stormin" Norman Robinson upsets Bobby Schwartz to win the US Open in an action packed and controversial final
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1979
Legendary seven time US National champ, Mike Bast comes to town and easily walks away with the US Open. Bassett wins the track Championship again and Gene Bonsignore scores "The King of the Hill" title
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1980
Hank Bassett finished the season winning nine Scratch Main Events in a row. Bassett also claims his third track Championship
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1981
Gene Woods wins his second US Open
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1982
World Champion Bruce Penhall signs up for the US Open but backs out two weeks prior due to the announcement of his retirement and his pending acting contracts. Penhall does honor some 6,000 eastern fans by coming to the Open and putting on an exhibition at intermission. The Crawford and Biesecker reign comes to and end mainly due to burnout and changing business interests.
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1983
Marked the start of a new promotion group consisting of Jiri Nechleba, Joe morello, and Walt Stephens. The track name is changed to "Grand Sport Speedway". John "Cowboy" Cook electrifies the crowd at the US Open while taking the gold.
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1984
Gene Woods wins The Open, pushing his record to three
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1985
Bruce "The mongoose" Nelson puts in a brilliant ride to become only the second East Coast rider to win the US Open. Scotty Brown of Ohio is Track Champion
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1986
Grand Sport Speedway closes its doors due to possible environmental concerns about the front part of the property on which the track sits, and other legal issues
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1988
The track property is put up for sale at public auction and is purchased by Stan Payne and Jack Crawford. Crawford has leased the property since 1975 from the Chandler family
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1990
It's announced that the track will reopen as "Champion Speedway" under the promotion of Chuck Podany. Podany gets off to a great start and later renames the facility as "American Speedway"
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1991
Podany loses steam as he begins to put less effort into opperations, and the end of '91 proves to his last at the helm
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1992
Longtime speedway fan, Herb Bell, takes over and calls the facility "Owego Motorsports Park". Bell puts effort into the park, but things already seem to be on the decline.
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1993
Bell is suffering financial loss and declining interest from the fans, due to the lack of rider talent. He is unable to keep up with things, and Crawford and Biesecker come back at the season's end to try and salvage what's left. They promote several races, but it's too late, Champion Speedway is once again dead.
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1994
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1997
The track looks like a ghost town covered in weeds with the remains in very rough shape. It's a terribly sad time for so many who had such fond memories of Speedway at this historic venue
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1997
21 year old professional hockey player, Jason Bonsignore, son of East Coast Speedway pioneer "Mean Gene" Bonsignore, takes a chance on the property. Bonsignore dubs the track "New Champion Speedway", and wooks feverishly to restore the grounds. New Champion Speedway its first event in front of a bumper crowd with many notables in attendance, including six time World Individual Champion, Ivan Mauger. Those in attendance that night get the feeling that they are witnessing the rebirth of speedway in Owego
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1998
Things continue to grow, and Bonsignore, operating as Jason Bonsignore Racing (JBR), brings back from the dead The US Open which also meant the return of the Californians. Chris Manchester goes undefeated.
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1999
The rider base is continuing to grow and the sport is definately causing a stir in the area again.
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2000
Crowds are getting larger again, and the racing is on its way to rivaling the racing of the track's heyday. A large and enthusiastic crowd attends the US Open final to see former World Finalist, Josh Larsen, be crowned.
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2001
Jason Bonsignore arranges a deal to purchase the famous bullring from Payne and Crawford. He bulldozes the original facility (which was on its last legs), and embarks on creating a state of the art venue complete with a larger surface, a new crashwall, bathrooms, a plush score tower, and a building which houses a souvenir shop and office. JBR makes history by hosting the first ever King of US Speedway series, marking the only time the top twelve racers from California had raced in Owego at once. Bonsignore reverts the name of the track back to "Champion Speedway" once and for all.
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2002
In a nostalgic twist, JBR changes Champion Speedway race nights back to Sundays and hires Kelly Crawford, the daughter of Jack, to help with operations. A modern concession stand has been added and a night-time Arenacross track/Go-kart fun track are planned. Also in the works is a BMX track. More events have been added, and Quad Racing. With over sixty racers per night and so many positives, Champion Speedway is back from the dead, and here to stay!
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2003
The Sephton / Rafferty rivalry is heating up and many talented kids are coming out. The legendary Kelly moran makes his comeback at Champion after an 11 year layoff. Sephton wins his third track title in a row and the ageless Bobby Schwartz wins the U.S. Open 26 years after his first victory.
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Sponsors
Coca-Cola
Speedwaybikes.com
Budget Fence of America
Scott Smith & Sons
Rick's Service Center
Dons Automotive
Lanes Yamaha Inc.
Williamson Sprots Motors
Kithcart & Sons LLC
FLEETSOURCE Perkins
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