Our look at the history of the Oxford 250 continues with a list of some great past editions of the race that people still talk about. Any race that has been around as long as the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway has plenty of great stories and lore, and here are just a few of those examples.
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The Nason Era
It was truly a run that may never be matched. For a three year span, Ralph Nason owned the Oxford 250. All the bad luck, bad karma and things that had plagued him in the past could not stop the black and yellow number 10 from clicking off three straight wins. Nason came from the outside of the front row in 1998 and 1999, but in 2000, he had to do the deed from 24th.
Badboy Tommy Ellis
To the southern people, he was just Tommy Ellis. When he told the crowd that Oxford was alright after you get around the local junk, then the rivalry grew in the North South debate. Ellis made the statement after he came from 27th to the front to beat out local hero Dick McCabe for the win. It must have been some good motivation, as Mike Rowe scored the first win for Maine drivers a year later. Ellis’ win will always be remembered as the line in the sand.
The Big Payday
The 1995 race had some major star power in a true US vs. Canada battle. Dave Whitlock took home over $52,000 after he beat out track regular Jeff Taylor. Tracy Gordon was third, the late Scott Fraser was fourth and many say he would have won the race before his death. Junior Hanley was fifth and throw in Dave Dion, Ralph Nason, Mike Rowe, Brad Leighton and Stan Meserve all in the top 11 and you just want to see the video if there is one.
Coming up Green
In his 13th try, Dick McCabe took his green number zero to victory lane in the Oxford 250. It was a very popular win after he led 101 laps that day. McCabe had tried for many years and had never done better than second in 1983. The multi-time ACT champion was one of the best drivers of the era and had won the Milk Bowl in 1982, but he didn’t complete the pair until 1988.
Historical Numbers for Rowe
At the end of the night in 2005, Mike Rowe took the honors as the Oxford 250 winner and the track’s all time winner after he pushed his win total to 150 with the 250 win. It wasn’t easy, as he got tripped up in the heat and Consi, won the last chance race and came from deeper in the field than any other driver had to win the 250. He was the third driver to win three Oxford 250s at the time, joining Dave Dion and Ralph Nason.
The Oxford 250 wasn’t always a 250 lap race. The first year, the 200 lap race was a great spectacle to market to the short track fans, but another 50-laps was added to make sure that pit stops were needed to run the race. In 1974 Joey Kourafas was a hot driver, but he found himself running second in the late stages when George Summers ran out of gas near the finish. The race was born with a twist at the finish and we have been getting them ever since.
Sweep the Weekend
Not once, but twice did Kyle Busch won on the Oxford 250 weekend in 2011. First, it was the Super Late Model PASS event on Saturday night, and then again on Sunday in the 250 itself when it was an ACT Late Model race. It was the third and most recent time Busch had run the race, but he had problems despite leading in the other events. This time, Busch led 68 laps and took the lead from Jeff Taylor to score the win.
2004: Is the Lead the Place to Be?
A long green flag run can change the outcome of any great race. In 2004, we waited for the caution that never came. First off, Dale Shaw had the lead and was pulling away. Scott Chubbuck was in pursuit and spun Shaw, which was in a way a retaliation from the previous season’s event where the two tangled in a race for $100,000. Chubbuck was given a stop and go and Alan Wilson took the lead only to slide off the track with 11 laps to go. That gave the lead to Ben Rowe who was able to circuit the final 10 laps and go back-to-back. The final 83 laps went caution free.
Song of the South
You don’t just go to Oxford and win the first time you show up, and you especially don’t just do that in the Oxford 250. Bubba Pollard made people eat these words when he came from 29th to win the 250 in his first try. Pollard took his time and just kept picking off cars one at a time, taking the lead with 33 laps to go. He was the first southern driver to win since Tommy Ellis in 1983.
It was a “Wait, what just happened?” moment. Ben Rowe was leading in the final laps of the 1996 Oxford 250. His fuel tank ran dry with three laps to go, giving the lead to Larry Gelinas who would go on to win the $50,000 first-place prize. After the race, people wanted a check of the scoring as Dennis Demers was thought to be the winner. However, Gelinas’ win was upheld. This was all before or right at the birth of timing and scoring in short track racing.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo