History of John Nicotra Racing
Photos by Roy Dewhurst and Pinner
The John Nicotra Racing supermodified team debuted at Oswego Speedway in 2007 with the up-and-coming Otto Sitterly at the driving helm and working as chief mechanic maintaining the two Hawk Jr Chassis #6 and #7 supers.
Despite being shut out of victory lane in ’07, the Sitterly and Nicotra combination was working well, as evidenced by a string of top-five finishes and P5 finish in the final point standings. Davey Hamilton began joining the Nicotra team on a part-time basis in 2007, as well. Ten years later Hamilton still competes at Oswego in a Nicotra Racing super, normally for International Classic Weekend and at least one regular-season event.
Nicotra Racing began to hit some of its stride in 2008. Otto put together a very consistent season, capturing his first feature win with Nicotra and winning the team’s first Novelis Supermodified Oswego track championship by 30 points over Pat Lavery.
The 2009 campaign was the team’s breakout year. Sitterly would win two regular-season races, including his first Jim Shampine Memorial win on Memorial Day weekend, and the team’s second straight Oswego track championship. While another championship was nice, the highlight of the year clearly was Sitterly and Nicotra’s first Budweiser International Classic 200 win Labor Day weekend.
In 2010 Sitterly opened the year with four straight feature wins, including a second straight Shampine Memorial victory, and won Nicotra Racing’s third consecutive Oswego track championship. Otto led much of the 2010 Classic but a late-race incident relegated him to a P9 finish.
Otto Sitterly added more success to Nicotra Racing’s resume in 2011. Sitterly would win three features in ’11 but finish P3 to Joe Gosek and Randy Ritskes in the final points. Otto would win the season’s ultimate prize - the 2011 International Classic - with a last-lap pass on teammate Mike Lichty to win his second Classic. Lichty held on for second to make it a Nicotra Racing one-two finish.
Nicotra Racing enjoyed another terrific season in 2012. Otto won the team’s third Shampine Memorial in May on his way to another Oswego track championship, which would mark Nicotra’s fourth and Otto’s fifth overall. On Labor Day weekend Sitterly notched the team’s third International Classic 200 triumph in a second consecutive Nicotra Racing one-two Classic finish. This time Otto crossed the stripe ahead of teammate Davey Hamilton.
Hamilton gave Nicotra his first Oswego win with a driver other than Sitterly on opening day 2013. While Otto was involved in an accident, Davey raced off to his first Oswego win in a number of years. Otto finished P2 to Bob Bond’s new Hawk Jr Chassis in the International Classic 200. Two weeks later Otto wrapped up Nicotra Racing’s fifth Oswego Supermodified track championship and Otto’s sixth overall. In yet another points race that went to the wire, Sitterly entered the last night of the season ahead by only 11 markers won the championship by only 13 points over Joe Gosek.
2014 was a big season for Otto Sitterly and the John Nicotra Racing team. Following a P2 finish in the Oswego Speedway season opener, Sitterly drove to his sixth Jim Shampine Memorial victory, which surprisingly, would be Otto’s only regular-season win of the year.
The next time Sitterly would visit Victory Lane was the International Classic in a dominating run in the 200-lap grind. The Classic win was the fourth of Otto’s now legendary Oswego career. Two weeks later Otto finished P2 in the Race of Champions season closer, which netted him the Oswego Supermodified track championship – his seventh and Nicotra’s sixth – by a 43-point margin over Dave Gruel.
Sitterly won seven Supermodified races in 2015, including his seventh Shampine Memorial 75 and the Mr. Supermodified feature in a thriller over Michael Barnes and Ray Graham, but he did not win the Oswego Speedway track championship or International Classic 200.
Sitterly spun out while leading the Classic with less than 10 laps to go and then was involved in an accident trying to make it back to the front in the closing laps. However, Nicotra Racing drivers Davey Hamilton and Dave Shullick Jr. would place P4 and P5 in the Classic.
Two weeks later, Otto would enter Track Championship night 12.5 points behind Classic winner Bob Bond. Otto won the night’s main event for his sixth regular-season victory of the season, but Bond finished P2, which was enough for him to win the points by only four markers over Otto.
The other highlight of 2015 was Otto’s first-ever ISMA win in the King of Wings event at Oswego. Sitterly drove the backup Bodnar / Shullick super to the win.
The 2017 Oswego Speedway racing season was one of the finest yet for John Nicotra Racing. Led by Otto Sitterly and new full-time team driver Dave Shullick Jr. of North Ridgeville, Ohio, our team accomplished another dream season.
Shullick and Sitterly would lead the way in the 11-race Novelis Supermodified points championship with Shullick riding four feature wins to his first Oswego track championship and our team's seventh championship overall. DJ's closest competitor in the 2017 points chase was his teammate, Sitterly, who accomplished seven top-five finishes on his way to finishing second in the final standings.
Shullick would close out the year with a win in the Budweiser International Classic 200, Oswego's annual marquee event on Labor Day weekend. DJ's Classic win - his first - marked Nicotra Racing's fifth in the famed event and the first time the team had won the Classic with a driver other than Otto.