WATCH LIVE: 48th Annual Oxford 250
Officials at Oxford Plains Speedway held their annual Oxford 250 Media Day gathering on Tuesday at the speedway, with 11 drivers on hand to discuss their chances in Sunday’s oval spectacle. The Oxford 250 is still the nation’s richest single-day short track stock car race, paying $25,000 to the winner.
At the speedway Tuesday to discuss their prospects this coming weekend were local drivers Kate Re, Calvin Rose Jr., Tim Brackett, Dennis Spencer Jr., Kyle Desouza and current SLM points leader Dave Farrington Jr.; along with touring series veterans Mike Rowe, Cassius Clark, defending 250 winner Johnny Clark, five-time Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North champion DJ Shaw and Eddie MacDonald.
Speedway owner Tom Mayberry, who has labored to bring the 250 back to its status among the top races in the nation, praised the drivers on hand and discussed his outlook for a post-pandemic 250.
“I’m a little disappointed after learning that several Canadian fans who had planned to attend this year won’t be allowed to come after all,” Mayberry said. “They’re only letting folks cross for essential travel, but since Cassius drives for a professional race team, they could come down to do business.
“Yet the excitement level here in New England seems to be huge. With all that pent-up interest from fans who couldn’t come last year, I think this weekend could be very successful. The forecast looks great for all three days, which helps our walk-up crowd. We’re working hard to get everything ready.”
Cassius Clark is a prerace favorite based on a number of factors; including his most recent dominant win at Oxford on August 14 in the Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 and his experience in long races.
My whole deal has really been on hold for nearly a year and a half due to the pandemic,” Clark said. “Last year, we got a very late start and never even had any fans at the tracks up there. This year, they didn’t get started until late June or early July, and with a limited number of fans. It’s been very difficult.
“It’s tough to see the fans not be able to come down for recreational travel or races yet, but I do get it. Prior to that last PASS race here, I really hadn’t raced in a year. I used to race in Canada more than I did in the U.S.; but obviously, that stopped with the COVID-19 outbreak. But we’re back now, and strong. I’m really hoping it all comes together for us on Sunday. An Oxford 250 win can be pretty elusive.”
MacDonald is hoping to be the first driver to win an Oxford 250 in two different style of cars; the ACT-type Late Model (as he drove when he won in 2009 and 2010), and the PASS-style Super Late Model.
“There’s going to be a lot of good guys here on Sunday,” he said. “This race is always tough, even if you have the best car. Everything still has to go right to pull it off. We’ve kind of switched cars back and forth to bring here to the 250 in recent years. This time, we’re bringing the car we ran last year.
“We’ll need to run all of the Friday and Saturday morning practice sessions to find a little more speed in the car to run with those top guys. Hopefully we can find enough to contend for the win on Sunday.”
Farrington has been on a tear at Oxford since winning the points crown last season. He’ll have a provisional starting spot, yet hopes he doesn’t have to rely on it. He truly is the leading (legit) local.
Running here week after week in the 50-lap races, we’ve been dealt with just about every type of scenario as far as track and weather conditions,” Farrington said. “Hopefully, we’ve built up a notebook that will help us deal with any sort of variable that comes our way on Sunday.
“We have a strong group of guys that run weekly here, as one of them we’re hoping one of us can pull off a win in the big dance. We’ve been starting the last couple of 150-lap PASS races here a little bit on the free side, so we have to fix that. We’ll need to stay with it all day Sunday, and be smart about it all.”
Rose has been enjoying a solid season at Oxford in 2021, and looks at Sunday’s 250 is realistic terms.
“We’ve been pretty consistent all season,” Rose said. “It’s been a whole lot better than last year, for sure. We’ve been earning top-five and podium finishes on a regular basis, and finally bagged the win two weeks ago. Our goal Sunday is to make the race, shoot for a top-10 and hope our day goes well.”
Oxford’s three-day showcase event kicks off on Friday evening with a full card of racing headlined by teams in their entry-level Acceleration Series. It continues on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. with a trifecta of tours on display, including the Vermont-based American-Canadian Tour (ACT); the Valenti Modified Series and the PASS Modifieds.
On Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., the drama begins to unfold in earnest as qualifying races begin for the prestigious Oxford 250 get under way.
“It has the potential to be one of the biggest in years, from a competition standpoint and fan interest,” Mayberry added. “I really think race fans are in for a special treat at Oxford this Sunday afternoon.”
– Story and photo by Phil Whipple, Speed51 Northeastern SLM Correspondent