Can Am History

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 Brown filed for Bankruptcy.

Early in 1975, a group of Watertown NY investors purchased the track, that 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 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 the 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 me 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 of the Can-Am Speedway 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 time to long time racer, and Rochester businessman, Tiger Chapman and his wife.

Mr. & Mrs. Chapman are originally from nearby Cape Vincent, New York, and still have their home in the town. The Chapmans continue to own the Speedway beginning with the 2016 season.