SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It was the finish line drivers raced toward all season, but they weren't the only ones revved up for the Syracuse 200.
"It's the big race of the year. It's the Daytona 500 of dirt track racing," said Paul Sykes, an Oriskany Falls resident who made the trip to this year's Super Dirt Week finale.
"If you win at Syracuse, you're the best of the best. I mean, it's the biggest stage, it's the biggest race," said John Cornell. He traveled from New Jersey to see one of his friends compete in dirt week events.
Thousands of fans either camped out for Super Dirt Week or just showed up for the last day. And while the 200-lap finale was the main event, some say the excitement dirt track racing offers is what keeps them watching all season long.
"Anything can happen on the dirt. Somebody can be pretty far ahead of someone on dirt and someone can throw it in, get it sideways, and catch right up," said Michael Minutlo, a Newark, NY, resident who camped out for Dirt Week.
But the thrill of the race isn't the only attraction. Many say there's a connection between dirt track drivers and fans that you don't find in every sport.
"We come in contact with the fans quite a bit. The pits are very accessible, so we end up talking to the people a lot of times and they become friends over the years, so it's a good thing," said Kenny Tremont, who competed in the Syracuse 200.
Longtime followers of dirt track racing say that energy from the crowd is something that contributes to the overall importance of the event.
"This is where it all is for them. Everything they've done all season long comes together in front of so many more people than they'd ever see on a Saturday night or a Sunday night at their local dirt track," said Edward Biitig, a reporter for Gater Racing News. This year marked Biitig's 40th at Super Dirt Week.
So no matter who's the first to pass that checkered flag, for fans and drivers, just taking part in Super Dirt Week is an experience that leaves the competition in the dust.