It’s been a while, but two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Steve Park is returning to a place he once ran around as a kid. The native Long Islander and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor will race in this weekend’s Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Park told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We all grew up kind of watching the races going on up there from the old Busch North (now NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) days. It’s one of those races that is really a tradition up in the Northeast. Going up there with my dad, I always watched the race and now I have the opportunity to go back there to race.”
According 51’s Third Turn, Steve Park’s dad Bob, a successful Modified racer back in the day, did not compete in the Oxford 250, but Bob did race in several Modified events at the 3/8-mile speedway in Central Maine.
Park is a six-time winner in NASCAR’s big three series (Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series) and a 19-time winner in NASCAR’s Touring Series’ (16 on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and three in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), but feels his career, which is nearing the finish line, would not be complete without competing in this event.
“When you look back on your career and what you’ve accomplished, if you don’t have start in the Oxford 250, it seems like you’re missing something,” admitted Park. “I have an opportunity now with Dickie Woodman’s team to run a good car. Hopefully we can go up there and run in the top-10. I think they have like 75 entries right now and they’re hoping to have maybe 85 by the time the race comes. It’s always great competition from all over the country and it’s just an honor for me to get the opportunity to run at the Oxford 250.
“I’m in a position in my career where I can pick and choose (the races I want to run). I look at some of the things that I have accomplished, and more so some of the things that I haven’t, and fortunately I’m at a position in my life to try to close up that bucket list a little bit and the Oxford 250 was definitely on it.
“It’s a nice part of my life right now, while I’m still young, still able to race and run up front makes me happy,” continued Park. “If I can get in a position to run a car, no matter if it’s a Legends car or a Cup car, and it’s capable of running in the top-10 than I’m all for it.”
Steve Park, once the future of our sport, is now 47 years-old. He is married and has a four year-old son, who is beginning to wheel some go-karts, although not in a competitive situation just yet. His focus in life has changed. Yet, his return to Oxford brings back memories of days gone by.
“I ran up there in the early 90’s in a Modified and all I remember from back then is how much of a circle it (Oxford Plains Speedway) was and how off-cambered it was by the start-finish line. I know they have since repaved it, but from what I gather it still has a lot of character that it had from way-back when. I think with the amount of time we’ll be able to get on the race track with all the heat races and everything else that you have to run, I think it will be enough time for me to get re-acclimated with Oxford Plains Speedway and hopefully put the No. 19 Sunoco Race Fuels, G Body Parts, Chevrolet Camaro up in the front.”
Park began his racing career in a mini-Modified at Islip Speedway with the number-19 on it. His dad, Bob, ran the number-19 throughout his racing career. Now Steve Park is racing the Park number-19 once again, in the twilight of his career.
The Oxford 250, a Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model race, is this Sunday, July 20th at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine.
By Bob Dillner @bobdillner – Owner, Speed51.com