Bubba Pollard didn’t know what to expect when he made his first trip to the Oxford 250 one year ago. The track, the race, the racers, the fans and the overall atmosphere of the prestigious short track race were all unknowns. But after spending three days at Oxford Plains Speedway and ultimately scoring a $28,300 victory, the Georgia boy discovered a destination worth returning to.
As a driver who has chased big paydays in the states of California, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin and beyond, a trip to Maine was a first for him in 2018. Ultimately, it was a trip so enjoyable that the Oxford 250 was one of the first races he put on his busy schedule for the 2019 season.
“There was a lot of people wanting us to come up there and race. That’s the reason we did,” Pollard said. “I had always wanted to run the Oxford 250. It’s such a big event, and really the fans got on social media and got to talking about me coming up and racing. I felt like our program was in the right spot to be able to do that. I felt like we were capable, we had traveled out around and won some races at other places. I felt like our team was capable of going up there and possibly running good. The fans had a lot to do with us coming up there and it was awesome once we got up there.”
Ultimately, it is those same diehard New England race fans that have Pollard excited to make another journey north to the Pine Tree State.
“When you look up and see that many people in the stands that come to watch you and 36 other guys race, that’s what gets me excited,” he said. “That’s what drives me to want to do well and win races. If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t have short track racing.
“Hopefully we can go back there and gain some more fans. It’s awesome to be able to race in front of a crowd of that size, and they want you to come race with them. That’s the biggest thing, that’s what makes you want to go back is the fans that are excited for us to be there.”
In addition to being impressed by the fan support, Pollard was equally impressed with the competition he was up against on race day. As someone who hadn’t competed against many of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) drivers in the Northeast, he gained a lot of respect for the drivers he raced against.
“I was a nervous wreck with the heat races and the stuff like that, which I’m kind of accustomed to but I hadn’t raced with those guys,” Pollard stated. “The biggest thing was not knowing in the heat races who you’re racing against or how they race. That was the biggest thing was getting comfortable with the racers. After running the heat race and running the first 50 to 100 laps of the race, you’re like, ‘Man, these guys are good.’ You have a lot of respect for these guys and they have a lot of respect for each other. It was nice being able to race against those guys, race clean and have some fun.”
During his career, Pollard has competed in many major events throughout North America. He has seen a lot throughout the years; however, there’s only one other race that he can compare to the Oxford 250.
“It’s big, the only place I can compare it to is the Slinger Nationals,” he said. “I really relate that area with the Midwest, Wisconsin and places like that. The fan base is awesome at both places. I have a lot of respects for both regions.”
As he now prepares to return to Maine and defend his crown, Pollard is hoping to experience more of the things that make the Oxford 250 a one-of-a-kind event. With a few friends made and a better understanding of the event, he hopes to have even more fun this time around.
“We’re the type of people that we like to hang out, so hopefully this year we’ve made some friends and we can go to the campground, have a drink or two, maybe eat with the fans and have some fun. That’s something we want to experience this year.
“I think we plan on watching some of the races, the Mod race and ACT on Saturday night. We plan on staying at the track more, interacting and everything with fans and watching some racing. We kind of really got out of there quick last year because it was a long week for us with the Canadian Short Track Nationals the next week and we were worn out. Hopefully we can have some fun this year and experience it.”
Those unable to make it to Oxford, Maine to experience the Oxford 250 with Pollard will be able to watch a live pay-per-view broadcast of the event on Speed51.com. Discounted two-day video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / John A. Miller