OXFORD, ME – With the 47th Annual Oxford 250 less than two weeks away the attention turns to who will add one of the most prestigious short track racing crown jewels to their racing resume. Looking at the list of winners in the nearly half a century old race shows a who’s who of racing. From Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Mike and Ben Rowe, Dave Dion, and Geoff Bodine to Ricky Craven, Travis Benjamin, Dick McCabe, Junior Hanley and Bubba Pollard, the list of Oxford 250 champions is quite literally littered with some of the most successful drivers in American auto racing history. There is one list, however, that some very accomplished drivers would rather take their name off and that’s the list of non-winners of the Oxford 250.
In its 46 years of history to this point, the Oxford 250 is known as a race that demands a perfect day. From the luck of the draw to get a good heat race starting spot, to the dynamic of mid-day qualifying that leads into a sunset green flag and ultimately a finish under the lights on a finicky 3/8 mile oval, winning teams must be prepared to react to ever changing conditions. And any team that successfully accomplishes that must still hope and pray that lady luck is on their side. Six time Pro All Stars Series (PASS) champion Johnny Clark has more than once fallen victim to the fickle lady luck. “One year we led around 125 laps and had a dominant car when we got caught up in a crash not of our doing late in the race that took us out. Another year we were leading with less than a 20 to go when a late race spin brought Mike Rowe to my rear bumper on fresh tires and I just couldn’t hold him off. We just haven’t had the breaks go our way yet.”
Clark is not alone. Looking back in history some of the biggest names in Short track racing never held a 250 trophy. Robbie Crouch, Morgan Shepherd, Homer Drew, Leland Kangas, and Dale Shaw all ended their racing careers without a 250 triumph, while veritable dark horses like Jeremie Whorff, Larry Gelinas, and Don Biederman have had lady luck on their side and enjoyed the spoils of victory.
Defending PASS champion DJ Shaw hopes to finally etch the family name in the record books once and for all. “Nobody in the family has ever won it, so it would be huge for all of us if I could finally pull it off!” said Shaw. “It would certainly be the highest achievement I could ever get in my life.” DJ grew up watching several family members compete in and fall just short of victory in the Crown Jewel. Father Dale participated in over twenty 250’s and fell about a half a car length short of victory to Dave Dion in 1992.
Certainly one of the most successful drivers in Oxford Plains Speedway (OPS) history is nine time champion Jeff Taylor who has also yet to carry the checkered flag. Taylor, a perennial favorite when he races, has twice been runner-up and nearly a dozen times finished in the top 10 in his 20+ starts in the 250. On more the one occasion the chassis builder has appeared on his way to victory, but has thus far been denied in a certain Hall of Fame career. Taylor dominated a 100 lap open race at OPS earlier in the 2020 season to serve notice this may be his year, if Lady Luck decides to shine her light on his way.
Timmy Brackett, unofficially the record holder for the most laps ever turned at OPS in history, is another multi time champion who has not seen much luck in the Oxford 250. When asked what it would mean to him to win the race at this point in his career, “It would be a dream come true- Icing on the cake for my racing career. For a Saturday Night Racer it’s the biggest win you could have.” Brackett, a 35 year veteran at OPS and likely approaching the twilight of his career was also asked if his career concludes without that elusive win, would that be ok. “I guess it would have to be ok because it’s a very difficult race to win, especially for a regular racer and I’ve given it plenty of shots. Though I this year is my best chance!”
Clark and Shaw when asked the same question expressed a bit more regret. “It would eat at me,” Clark said. “Probably more than it would anyone else. We have won a lot of big money races, we have 40 Pass wins and six championships, but the one thing that’s missing is the 250.” Shaw echoed the Clark’s comments. “I wouldn’t feel unsuccessful, but I certainly would feel like my career wasn’t complete, like there was something missing.”
These four drivers are not alone on the entry list in their quest for their first 250 triumph after a dozen or more starts. Cassius Clark has led 100’s of laps in previous races. Alan Wilson was less than a dozen laps from victory in 2004 before an off track excursion. Kelly Moore has over 20 starts and a championship at OPS. Shawn Martin is a 20+ year veteran at the oval. Jeff White has lead laps and been in a nearly 15 races. Tracey Gordon was overtaken by Ralph Nason late in the 1998 edition.
We are less than two weeks away. Tune in August 30th to find out if one of these drivers can finally shake the monkey off their back or if we will have another repeat winner. Race fans will be able to watch the Oxford 250 via a live PAY-PER-VIEW BROADCAST. Discounted three-day tickets can be purchased today for $50.
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