The Oxford 250 is a short track race known by many race fans throughout the country as one of the crown jewel Super Late Model events. With $25,000-plus going to the winner of the 250-lap race, the best of the best in Late Model racing make their way to Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) every year in hopes of cashing the big check. But while every driver in the pit area has hopes of standing in victory lane at the end of the day, they first have to qualify into the event. For many, accomplishing that task in itself is a dream come true.
Kyle Treadwell of Auburn, Maine is one of the drivers who was able to live the dream during last year’s running of the Oxford 250. Treadwell, then a Super Late Model rookie with just nine races under his belt, qualified for the race in his first try and finished 22nd in the 44-car field. While a 22nd-place finish may have been discouraging for him in any other race, it was a dream come true on that Sunday afternoon in July.
“Just to be able to participate in the whole weekend was pretty cool, never mind making it into the race,” Treadwell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I didn’t think I would, but we held our own in the feature.”
On that July afternoon, Treadwell finished fifth in his qualifying heat race. With only four drivers qualifying for the event, he wasn’t able to celebrate the achievement as he crossed under the checkered flag. Instead, he was able to celebrate after crossing the scales in post-qualifying technical inspection.
“We went to tech, of course they take the top-five, and we ran over the scales and I saw them talking to Dave Farrington a little,” Treadwell explained. “They pointed for him to go around ago and I’m like, ‘this could be it right here.’ I went over the scales and Charlie, the tech director for the PASS tour, told me to go sit off to the side. I did and then they ran Dave over the scales again and he didn’t pass. They had me go over the scales one more time and I passed. That was the coolest feeling right there because I didn’t get the chance to go across the line knowing I was in. I had to do it in tech, which is just as good.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Treadwell is 20-year-old Tyler King, a native of nearby Livermore Falls, Maine. King found himself in a qualifying position twice during last year’s Oxford 250 and both times failed post-qualifying inspection for being too low.
Having experienced the heartbreak of not making the race, King has developed even more appreciation for what it means to qualify for the biggest Super Late Model event in the Northeast.
“It means a lot,” King said of the race. “It’s close to home and is only about a half hour from us. I grew up there as a kid camping and once I got old enough I started helping my dad in the pits. It’d be awesome. Last year we were a little bit too low but we had a very fast car. This year the car isn’t really going that good, but hopefully we can get it as good as it was last year because just to get into the race would mean a lot.”
Twenty-one-year-old Spencer Morse, a rookie in Oxford’s Super Late Model division, also has a huge appreciation for the race and what it would mean to qualify. Being a third-generation driver and the first driver in his family to have a shot to qualify for the Oxford 250 is a huge deal for the Waterford, Maine driver.
“My grandfather started racing in the 70’s and all he ever wanted to do was race in an Oxford 250 and he never got to accomplish that,” said Morse. “My other grandfather owned cars for my dad for years and all he wanted to do was own a car that raced in the Oxford 250 and he never was able to accomplish that. So it’s really a thing for my whole family, it’s the biggest racing event in New England and there’s no bigger deal to me.”
Like Treadwell, Morse will have single digit Super Late Model starts on his resume as he attempts to qualify for the biggest race of the year at his home track. He plans to compete in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North 150 at the beginning of August to see how he stacks up against the competition, but even as a rookie he knows that anything can happen on Oxford 250 Sunday.
He’s just hoping that “anything” includes a good qualifying draw and a fast car on race day.
“It’s same thing with the Oxford 250 that I’ve been watching since I was a kid, I’ve seen the fastest car not make the race before because of the draw,” stated Morse. “So I’m going to have a couple golden horseshoes to make sure I pull the right number, because that’s the whole battle.”
If he does qualify for the event, Morse said he’s not quite sure how he’ll react other than being nervous come race time.
“That’s the event every year,” Morse stated. “You’re in front of a huge crowd and the history that goes along with it, you read back and one race can make a career for some of these guys. I get jitters before every race, but with that one I think the jitters have already started for it.”
Treadwell, who went through the same thing that Morse will have to go through in his first attempt to qualify for the Oxford 250, also admitted to having jitters as he prepared for the race one year ago. Still, it’s an experience he’d like to live over and over and over again.
“I was pretty nervous,” Treadwell admitted. “My spotter thought it was pretty funny because I didn’t talk for the first 100 laps.
“When I’m sitting there on the fronstretch and I look up and see 10,000-plus people and they’re all screaming and yelling during driver intros and I look behind me and there’s Cassius Clark, and a few rows behind there’s Travis Benjamin and DJ Shaw. I was like, ‘oh man, this is it.’”
While there are many entertaining and exciting Super Late Model events throughout the country each year, all three drivers agreed that there is no bigger race for them than the Oxford 250.
“Obviously being from Maine, I’ve heard of the Snowball Derby and I look at it in the same way as the guys down there,” said Treadwell. “I would love to attempt the Snowball Derby, but it’s not really as big of a deal if I never do get to attempt it. But the 250, that was a big deal. That was just unbelievable. Just to make it, it’s still, people still talk about it now and how I qualified for the Oxford 250.
“I never would have thought of it. We had no plans of going Super Late Model racing, that’s for sure. To do it and to qualify in just my ninth Super Late Model start is just unbelievable. I had so many friends and family there, it was pretty cool.”
King, Morse and Treadwell will all make their bid at qualifying for the 42nd Annual Oxford 250 on Sunday, August 30 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Reserved tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the track office at 207-539-8865.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: From Facebook, Kyle Treadwell Motorsports