Story By: DAN KAPUSCINSKI / RATCLIFF RACING – OSWEGO, NY – Since Oswego Speedway’s reopening in 2021, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Steel Palace’ has seen a true youth movement in all three of its racing divisions.
One of those up and coming drivers is Oswego High School graduate, Noah Ratcliff, who has his sights set on the speedway’s Small Block Super track championship in 2023.
Starting as a rookie in 2021, Ratcliff has already amassed 12 Top 5 finishes in the division, with finishes of fourth and second in the championship standings, no doubt a stellar start for the former kart racer who has eyed the SBS division for many years.
“The SBS class seemed like the next step up for us from karts and after the class made the switch to crate engines, a ton of cars came up for sale, which became our perfect opportunity to get in,” said Ratcliff. “I instantly fell in love with the class. It is relatively affordable and just plain out fun. There is tons of competition and the class seems to continue to grow.”
After initially purchasing an FFB chassis for competition, Ratcliff and team then secured the former Dalton Doyle built No. 01 machine. Following a change to No. 73, the Ratcliff team quickly went to work to prepare for their next chapter in the sport.
As seen through the years in all levels of motorsports, family tends to be a key part of the plan, and that is no different with the Ratcliffs. Armed with his brother Nate on the wrenches and support of sister Tasha and mother Teri, who can each be found inside the Jake’s Automotive parts trailer at the speedway, the Ratcliffs are a key fixture inside the speedway.
“Knowing my whole family is as invested as I am makes it that much better when we do well,” said Ratcliff. “Working with my brother has its moments. We are very similar and work well together and he has always been super supportive. He is the brains behind everything and he is the one that figures everything out before I do. “
His family support system and working chemistry with his brother has no doubt provided results in Ratcliff’s first two seasons in the sport.
Ratcliff not only earned Rookie of the Year honors at the speedway in 2021, but finished fourth in the overall championship with five Top 5 finishes in nine starts, showing consistent speed along the way.
In 2022, Ratcliff returned even better, climbing to second in the championship with another seven Top 5’s in nine starts, inching ever closer to his elusive first career victory.
“Last season started out awesome,” said Ratcliff. “We came out of the box fast and every race we finished at Oswego, we finished on the podium. We had a string of bad luck to end the season but still finished second in points at Oswego and sixth in points on the SBSCS series. All in all, it was a great season and brought some new opportunities.”
One of those opportunities is the chance to race part time in the 350-Supermodified division at Oswego with car owners Brian and Melissa Brant. While a chase for Oswego’s SBS championship is the primary goal next season, Ratcliff is eager to race the 350 when he can.
“Brian and Melissa purchased the former Norm Macleod super that won the 350 Classic in 2021,” said Ratcliff. “They would like me to race the car when I can and I am very thankful for the opportunity. It is a huge learning curve for all of us, so we plan to run as many Fast Fridays as we can to get comfortable.”
Ratcliff and team will be busy in 2023 between Oswego’s SBS and 350-Supermodified divisions, as well as competing on the Small Block Super Championship Series tour and once again fielding a second SBS for SBSCS Rookie of the Year, Drew Pascuzzi.
“Drew did really well last year considering how much he fought all year between a blown engine, rear ends and mostly a wicked loose condition all season,” said Ratcliff. “His dirt experience really came into play and I think he showed what the car is capable of. He plans another full season this year with several updates to the car. Being a two car team is twice the work with the same amount of people and can be pretty stressful, but the good Saturday nights make up for it.”
True supporters of the sport, Ratcliff’s family business Jake’s Automotive stands as the title sponsor of the Small Block Super Championship Series, a tour that Ratcliff says is vital to the division’s continued growth.
“The traveling series is a great way to promote and grow the sport,” said Ratcliff. “I feel it puts things much more in the driver’s hands as we go to tracks we are not as used to. It has been a blast so far and has really gained a lot of support this past year.”
Keep an eye on Noah Ratcliff and the Ratcliff Racing stable in 2023, as victory lane and a potential championship are no doubt in sight.