WATCH LIVE: 48th Annual Oxford 250
Courtesy of our historical guru Elgin Traylor, here are 10 major upsets from the Oxford 250 history books.
Larry Gelinas – The drama that surrounded the 1996 Oxford 250 is still being talked about today. A young second-generation driver named Ben Rowe would find himself leading the race late, very late. In fact, Rowe hit the line as the leader with three laps left before running out of gas. That left Larry Gelinas as the leader and the winner after two more circuits. Some claim that Dennis Demers was the winner and Gelinas was a lap down, but Demers had to settle for second.
Jeremie Whorff – Some nights, it all comes together, and Jeremie Whorff did that on the biggest stage in the Oxford 250 in 2006. He started up front, but a high attrition rate and only four cars on the lead lap allowed him to be the top dog at the end of the night. It helped that his dad, Billy Whorff, Jr. was right behind him in a special father-son finish. It was just one of his six wins that season at OPS.
Roger Brown – In 2007, no one knew what to expect when it came to the 250 as the Pro Stocks were pushed aside for the ACT Late Models. 95 cars showed up, the heats were extended to a total of eight and a New Hampshire man won the race after leading a better part of the final 100 laps. Roger Brown came from 30th and survived 11 yellows, including two in the final 25 laps to hold off Dale Verrill for the win.
Mike Rowe – How can you be saying Mike Rowe winning at Oxford was an upset? He had won 52 times from 1977 to 1980, but in 1984 he drove a V6 and many felt that was a disadvantage, even for a multi-time event winner. Rowe was the first driver from Maine to win the race, and now Maine has claimed 20 total Oxford 250 wins.
Curtis Gerry – Using a page out of the Travis Benjamin book, Curtis Gerry ran fourth at the PASS race just a few weeks before the 2017 Oxford 250. Then on that Sunday night he was the surprise winner after leading 102 laps. Since then, he’s been downright nasty with more Touring series wins at OPS than any other driver in history.
Don Biederman – People forget that Biederman was the first Canadian to win the Oxford 250. It was an upset at the time because of the experienced drivers in the field. Butch Lindley, Bob Pressley, Harry Gant and Hector Leclair made up the top five. However, when he got to the front they couldn’t do anything with him. On this night he was the best driver in the country.
Travis Benjamin – To even think it now is almost blasphemy. There was a point and time when Travis Benjamin didn’t have all his ducks in a row and he didn’t have a grip on the Oxford Plains Speedway track. In 2013, he was third in the April PASS race and he won July just nine days before the 250. Many said, sure he can do it for 150 laps, but that’s not the 250. Benjamin made us eat our words and led the final 45 laps on the way to his first win in the 250.
Tom Rosati – At the age of 19, Tom Rosati was a surprise winner at the Oxford 250 in 1979 in his Nova. Beating our Harvey Sprague and Bob Pressley sealed this upset of the 70s for the race. The win was worth $10,000 at the time, and the youngster had been a terror at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in a Limited Sportsman, but on this July night he was the king of the world.
Scott Robbins – Robbins had one win at OPS in 2002 and it was in the Oxford 250. The track regular had a game plan on the pit stops, and after finishing second in 2001, he came back and proved it was no fluke. He also held off then two-time 250 winner Mike Rowe. Robbins had the pace pay out for him as he got the lead and drove away as the final 83 laps clicked off without a yellow. The lack of caution kept any other fast cars from being able to catch up.
Gary Drew – It was not so much that Gary Drew won the pole as it was that he kept Ralph Nason from winning his fourth-straight 250. Drew led 102 laps and made the most of his track position in the final 100 laps as the race went 88 laps green before the last six-lap sprint. Drew was fast and made the most of being up front all night.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo