Weedsport, NY — May 20, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Successful sportsman and businessman Carl Myers from Springwater, New York will receive the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame ‘Gene DeWitt Outstanding Car Owner’ Award in 2008. The 17th annual induction ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, May 25 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series event at the adjacent speedway.
Most familiar in the area racing fraternity during the new millennium as the driving force behind the Sweeteners Plus Team, Myers has been a fixture on both land and sea during a motorsports career that has also earned him recognition in the American Power Boat Association Hall of Fame. Bursting on to the DIRTcar Racing scene as the primary backer of step-son Vic Coffey in the Sportsman ranks in 1994 —the same year as his APBA HoF enshrinement—- Myers has evolved into one of the most respected car owners in the Northeast, with sponsorship support shared over the past decade among DIRTcar Big-Block Modified stars Danny Johnson, Steve Paine, Doug Hoffman, Tim McCreadie and Justin Haers.
“I did some drag racing as a kid at Spencer Speedway (NY) in the 50s and 60s and then built my own boat and raced it on the Hudson River, so I guess I’ve always had a thing for speed,” said Myers, 68, who concluded his Off-Shore Boating career with eight national (1991-98) and three world (1994-96) championships. Still active today as the President and CEO of Sweeteners Plus, Inc., a distributor and manufacturer of liquid and dry sweeteners to serve the food industry based in Lakeville, New York, Myers also owns a pair of Super DIRT Week Rite Aid 200 trophies with Coffey behind the wheel in 2002 and again in ‘07. “Ann (Coffey, Vic’s mother) wasn’t as thrilled (about speed) and said the only way we’d get married is if I stopped racing the boat so I got out in 1999 and we had our wedding.”
“To win at Syracuse you have to be blessed. Everything has to click. The challenge of pitting properly is big and being able to avoid accidents ranks up there just as high. I’ve been to just about all the DIRT tracks in the Northeast but both times Vic won I missed Syracuse. Sometimes I suggest certain things, how they should be done, but I guess that just might not be in line with the team strategy at the time,” smiled Myers, recalling Vic’s only two wins in Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series competition that came in dramatic fashion.
Myers was born in Brooklyn yet less than a year later his family relocated to Western New York as his father became a brew master at the Schaffer and Genesee breweries; Carl followed in the family footsteps and became the sixth generation of brew masters. He attended West Irondequoit High School outside of Rochester and pursued a Mechanical Engineering degree before entering brewer school. In his late teens Carl had started racing boats with the hydroplane A’s and B’s and ran until college, although never competing again until 1981.
Carl took his first step in another direction during the late 1960s after sugar broker Ron Alan gave him a new vision as well as part-time employment in 1969. Full-time work followed the next year at the Western New York Syrup and Sugar Company, south of Lakeville, where Alan patented the sugar liquefying system. Carl took over the plant in 1974 and four years later Alan passed away. The former Mayor of Rochester talked Carl into considering Lakeville to start his own company after selling the Western NY Syrup Co. in ’81 so even before Route 390 was constructed Carl moved north to start Sweeteners Plus in 1983, converting an old foundry into a modern plant which has continued to expand ever since.
“With the business in Lakeville, I first started the Avon (NY) shop in ’93 to accommodate the boats and it became A&C Speedworld and now with Vic and Tim (McCreadie) running things its now CME, Inc. (Coffey-McCreadie Enterprises),” said Myers, who noted that he is currently the primary sponsor of the race cars, while still owning the trucks and haulers as Coffey and McCreadie maintain the equipment. “I still enjoy the excitement of DIRT racing, just wish I could find time to get to more races.”
When Coffey was elevated to the Big-Block Modified ranks in 1996, Myers befriended DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly and during the 1990s experimented at Cayuga County Fair Speedway with a unique mixture of magnesium-chloride salt that was used as a de-icer on public roads. It was a resin-like sap that was designed to bind up the clay so it wouldn’t break up while minimizing dust at the same time; all meant to address concerns posed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “It was a good idea to create good racing as well as save tire wear but it needed more work,” Myers recalled. “Glenn needed to put down a lot more water at the time and when it wasn’t, the track became the opposite of what was intended — abrasive and hard as rock. It gave the treatment a black eye after that and nobody really uses it today. It’s a little more expensive but I still think its better for dirt tracks in the long run.”
With early success in the DIRTcar Sportsman ranks matching what he had already achieved on the micro-sprint circuit at Lime Rock Speedway, Coffey adapted quickly to the world of Big-Block Modified racing and was honored as DIRTcar NorthEast’s Rookie of the Year in 1996. Upon the recommendation of legendary car-builder Maynard Troyer, Carl developed a team concept hiring Billy Taylor as crew chief with Doug Hoffman part of the preferred package.
“We were successful in the Sportsman and looked for some new competitive challenges with the Modified, and with Billy (Taylor) on his way back up from North Carolina the timing was right,” figured Myers, describing his initial move to a two-car team in 1998. “Billy brought in Doug as they won Syracuse together (1996) but there wasn’t a good exchange of information so it lasted only one season. With the motors and personnel in place after that, we’ve had a two-car operation ever since, as Bill Tones took over as team manager through 2002 and Pete Coffey served as our crew chief until 2007.”
“Everything went well with Danny (Johnson, 1999-2001) until he decided to run his own car again with his own crew and that took away from the direction of our team … Steve (Paine, 2002) and his father were some of the most above-board people I’ve known but when we had a Troyer or Bicknell deal going and Steve was a loyal TEO dealer it was tough to keep the team concept intact … Even when we started with Timmy (McCreadie, 2003-present) he wanted to keep his TEO while Vic was starting to work with the Bicknell chassis. Today we’re back with a Troyer and still using a Bicknell car. Its tough to leave chassis builders, sometimes there’s a strong attachment that develops over the years. Normally at the end of every season all the stuff in the shop is basically no good so everybody wants a new car and new parts anyway. So whoever joins our team has to be willing to lose some ties. Sometimes that has to happen if you want to win and this business is almost becoming too expensive to finish anywhere else.”
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts and Hoosier Racing Tire. Rite Aid Corporation is a promotional partner and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks, Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Dig Safely New York, Holley HP Carburetors, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks, Rislone Oil Stabilizer and Wrisco Industries.