Talking sports

Tuners’ delight at Bethel Motor Speedway

Posted 8/8/23

SWAN LAKE, NY — Bethel Motor Speedway (BMS) has a decades-long history of quarter-mile asphalt racing near the site of the legendary Woodstock Music & Art Fair of 1969.

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Talking sports

Tuners’ delight at Bethel Motor Speedway


SWAN LAKE, NY — Bethel Motor Speedway (BMS) has a decades-long history of quarter-mile asphalt racing near the site of the legendary Woodstock Music & Art Fair of 1969.

Construction was completed in 1959; the track staged its first racing season a year later in 1960; and today it is a NASCAR-sanctioned track, part of the Advanced Auto Weekly Series

Over the years, it has witnessed a steady procession of race cars including pro stocks, street stocks, Bandoleros and numerous other classes of wheel-to-wheel machines. That includes hosting vintage racers from the past and nights when fans can line up to get autographs from famous race-car drivers, both past and present.

On July 29, BMS put on a full racing schedule, and on July 30, the track hosted a stunning car show presented by SmithNY. It was organized by William Smith, the official track photographer, and assisted by Dawn Roemer, long-time supporter and the track’s director of marketing and promotions.  

Sunday’s car show featured several out-of-town car clubs, the members of which favor wringing every last drop of horsepower out of their extensively modified foreign cars, which most notably bear the marques of Infinity, Nissan and Subaru.

The visiting clubs included the Pure VQz, Vorge Society, Goated Mob Racing and Anti Social, to name the main players.

George Van Arsdall Jr., BMS general manager, said, “It was a great turnout—our biggest car show we’ve ever had with about 70 cars registered… I’m loving it.”

Roemer echoed Van Arsdall’s sentiments that the show was a success, and added, “It brings increased awareness. A lot of people don’t know the track’s here, and hopefully this will bring them back on a race night. And it’s something we’re going to continue to do.”

Tom Matthews, president of the Any Make Any Model Car Club, was watching all the action ebb and flow around his 1986 Monte Carlo SS Aero Coupe—one of only 200 produced by Chevrolet so that model would qualify for NASCAR racing.

“Dale Earnhardt made this body style famous; it’s one of my keepers,” he said. Matthews noted that in years past he raced modified at what is now Bethel Motor Speedway back in the 1960s, before it was paved. Later he raced the dirt at Middletown, Accord and Syracuse.

“That was when Charlie Wells owned this track,” recalled Matthews. “It’s good that it’s still going, but I’m not an asphalt person, I’m dirt modified; that’s what I like.”

Denzel “DZ” Smallwood was part of the crew from Goated Mob Racing, a group who showed up with their “tuned” rides, and his 2015 Subaru STI took one of the show’s top-10 awards.

“It has a fully built motor, a custom-made wide body kit and custom wheels and interior,” he said, adding it boasts 330 ponies under the sculptured hood, and lays down 400 pounds of torque to the pavement.

“I’ve been building it for the last five years in my backyard,” said Smallwood. “My father was a master mechanic, and I’ve been around cars my whole life… I wanted to figure out a way to make a different build with a lot of carbon fiber.”

Anthony Caitan, one of the presidents of the PureVQz Car Club, noted that he modifies mostly Infinities and Nissans into blazingly fast street machines.

The club’s signature pink-and-white car was constructed in honor of a member’s mother who passed from breast cancer. The 2013 Infinity is set up with a VQ37VHR motor that yielded 340 horsepower on the dynamometer.

His personal ride—an Infinity Q50—has, thanks to a twin-turbo V-6, about 450 horsepower at the wheels.

While Tom Katz’s 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I Super Jet didn’t make it to the car show, he was on hand.

He recalled watching an interview with the legendary Carroll Shelby of Cobra, Shelby 350 and 500 fame, and remembered Shelby’s views on the modern-day tuners of foreign cars versus the “old school” builders of high-performance cars that had big American V8s stuffed into British cars.

“When asked about the kids today with these foreign cars, he said he had a lot of respect for them… back in the 1960s, that’s what they were doing. And he really respected these guys, taking streetable cars and getting so much power out of them.”

In his role as the track’s official photographer, William Smith said the event was organized to help promote the local oval and “encourage people to come out on race night.

“I’ve been coming here since I was about five years old, and my dad used to race 4-cylinders,” added Smith, who also spent some time at the wheel of 4-cylinders.

For information about Bethel Motor Speedway, call 845/319-7908 or email

For information about the photography of William Smith, contact


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