Previewing the 50th Spencer Paving Group Oxford 250
More than 60 drivers have filed their entries for the legendary Late Model event approaching its 50th running.
As the calendar edges closer and closer to the 50th annual Spencer Group Paving (SGP) Oxford 250 , thoughts start to lean toward who might be the lucky driver wearing the winner's wreath around 8:30 pm on August 27th. Sixty-one of the best Super Late Model (SLM) drivers in the country have filed their intent to compete in the legendary race which may well be the biggest short track race in the history of the Northeast and beyond. In a normal year, just about every top Super Late Model team puts forth a concerted effort to etch their name on the trophy next to previous winners. When it’s the 50th annual event of one of the most storied short track races in the nation, those efforts become monumental.
“The Spencer Group Paving Oxford 250 is always one of the most competitive races we have every year,” said PASS President Tom Mayberry. “This season has already been filled with some great competition and we really think that will translate into something special in August. We are all looking forward to seeing a very competitive 250 this year, with just about anyone having a chance to win.”
No less than a dozen winners with 18 wins under their collective belt dot the entry list, including defending champion Cole Butcher, Mike and Ben Rowe, and Georgia’s Bubba Pollard. Every one of those drivers is a year-over-year threat to win again.
Since 1974, 36 different drivers have won an Oxford 250. Nine of those drivers have been lucky enough to win multiple races with four drivers visiting 250 victory lane 3 times. Several drivers have won back-to-back titles including Geoff Bodine, Ben Rowe, and Eddie MacDonald while Ralph Nason is the only one to win three consecutive 250’s. All 12 of the former winners entered are very capable of keeping the exclusive 250 winners club at that current number of 36 by parking their cars in victory lane.
There is another list that is to be examined as we lead into the 50th edition of one of the most difficult short track races in the nation. The list of non-winners entered would be enough to draw a crowd any day of the week. DJ Shaw is one such name that has been a constant front-runner as he tries to become the first Shaw family driver to win the big one. Father Dale fell about a half a car length short of Dave Dion in 1992, and DJ himself has been a contender twice finishing third as his career-best finish. “It seems like this is a topic for us every year. Nobody in the family has ever won it, so it would be nice to finally win it and change the subject every August,” said a smiling Shaw.
The list of veteran drivers entered so far that have yet to win a Spencer Group Paving Oxford 250, but have had a great deal of success all over New England and beyond is immense. Drivers like Joey Doiron, Dennis Spencer Jr, Alan Tardif, Tracy Gordon, Mike Hopkins, Austin Theriault, and Dave Farrington Jr have all won Pro All Stars Series (PASS) races and/or touring and local championships. Add in front runners like Kyle DeSouza, Shawn Knight, Ryan Robbins, Father-Son Combos Mike and Ben Rowe, and TJ and Tim Brackett, and the list of potential winners gets deeper.
Among the single-time winners looking to enter that exclusive group of multiple winners is the aforementioned defending Champion Cole Butcher who hopes to become the sixth driver to go back to back, while Cassius Clark and Johnny Clark look to capitalize on recent success, and Jeremie Whorff hopes to show his win in 2006 was no fluke. Curtis Gerry and Glen Luce hope to recapture the glory that made them both 250 winners in the not-so-distant past.
One other category not to be overlooked is the list of “young guns” entered into the 50th annual race. Nineteen-year-old Kulwicki Development Driver Program (KDDP) candidate Max Cookson leads the way of this group. Cookson is the current points leader at OPS as well as on the PASS tour both National and Overall points. Austin Teras has won three times in five starts in two different cars at OPS, including back-to-back PASS 150 triumphs putting his name near the top of favorites.
Derek Griffith, Gabe Brown, and Jimmy Renfrew are three more drivers who consistently lurk near the top of the speed charts and near the front of any race. Add in Joe Pastore who led over half the race in 2022, Pass champion Ryan Kuhn, Multi-time winner Garrett Hall, and Brandon Barker as a few more drivers capable of running at the front.
The 49-year history of the Oxford 250 shows that the fickle finger of fate sometimes points to a completely unexpected winner. Independent racer Don Biederman in 1977, 19-year-old Tom Rotati in 1979, Larry Gelinas in 1996, Gary Drew in 2001, and relative unknown Roger Brown in 2007 all flew under the radar leading into their respective victories.
2023 features several drivers who quietly exhibit enough speed to find themselves competing for the checkered flag on August 27th. At the front of the dark horse list is Scott Moore from North Anson Maine. Moore has quietly put together a solid season at OPS ranking number two in the hard charger category which is a statistic that represents how many cars a driver has passed throughout the season. Youngster Kate Re has also had a resurgent 2023 campaign scoring a pair of podium finishes in weekly competition and a win in late July. Steve Chicoine and Calvin Rose Jr have also spent a significant amount of time running near the front. Add in Scott McDaniel, Evan Hallstrom, Jimmy Hebert, Ben Ashline, Corey Bubar, and Josh St Clair and it’s easy to see the winner could easily come from an unexpected driver.
With Sixty-one of the best drivers already registered for one if the biggest races in OPS history the 50th annual Spencer Group Paving Oxford 250 promises to be one for the record books no matter how you stack it!
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-Oxford Plains Speedway Release
-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America