History Of The Can-Am Speedway

As a direct descendant of the famed Watertown Speedway, the Can-Am Speedway was built in 1974 by an Evans Mills, NY real estate broker, Leslie W. Brown. The track lasted one year under this ownership and then Brown filed for Bankruptcy. Early in 1975, a group of Watertown, NY investors purchased the track, which consisted of Bob Thurston Sr., Douglas Atkinson, and Thomas Coughlin. This partnership lasted for several seasons. In 1981, Bob Thurston Sr. bought out Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Coughlin, and became the sole owner.

The Thurston family continued to own the track during the glory years of the 80′s and 90′s. Thurston was responsible for bringing Can-Am Speedway under the DIRTcar racing banner during the winter of 1982-83. The Thurston family did a remarkable job with the speedway, even after the rebuilding of the VIP towers after a vicious storm hit the track in 1995. The Thurston’s faced some pretty tough decisions at the time, but decided to repair the damage. With the help of many people around the racing community, the track was back up and running in just three weeks. The Thurston family owned the speedway until late in the 2000 season.

John Wight, of Baldwinsville, NY purchased the track in the summer of 2000. Wight had big plans for the speedway, and introduced the Big Block Modifieds as the top class at the speedway. Wight continued ownership of the speedway, even though attendance and car counts were down from previous seasons. Wight also owned and sponsored cars driven by Billy Decker, Pat Ward and Pat O’Brien. Wight would eventually sell the track to Charlie and Billy Caprara from the F.X. Caprara Car Companies late in the 2003 season. Wight would continue to be a major player in racing, increasing ownership of World Of Outlaw late model cars, as well as a Big Block Modified team still consisting of Decker, Ward, O’Brien, and now Larry, Wight, his son.

Caprara’s ownership would see several changes to the speedway. The track would now be known as Caprara Bros. Can-Am Motorsports Park. The Caprara’s would also operate the Thunder Alley Speed Park, which is just a few miles down the road from Can-Am. The Caprara’s continued to own Can-Am through the end of the 2009 season. Just a couple of months into the off season the track was sold to long time racer, and Rochester businessman, Tiger Chapman. Mr. Chapman is originally from nearby Cape Vincent, New York, and still resides locally. Chapman owned the Speedway until 2016 when the Caprara’s regained ownership. The Caprara’s operated the speedway until selling to current owner, local businessman and racer Tyler Bartlett.

Bartlett, owner of D.P. Bartlett & Son’s Plumbing, Heating and A/C LLC, TRB Properties and a proud supporter to the Bartlett Brother’s Racing Team states this business opportunity is a childhood dream come true.

Tyler attended his first racing event at only a week old to watch his father, Dave race his Dirt Modified in 1985. He later competed at Can-Am Speedway’s Go-Kart Track for many years, along with his brother, Ryan. Later, the brothers moved up to the Big Block Modified ranks. To say racing is a part of the family is an understatement. Although Tyler has not raced himself much these past few seasons, he is enjoying revamping Can-Am Speedway.

Many improvements have been made to the facility during the short time of ownership. Bartlett is also having some fun with his children at the Kart Track on Saturday Nights.

Thank you to all of the family, friends and supporters of the Can-Am Speedway. We look forward to seeing you all at the track!