OXFORD 250 LEFTOVERS by Mike Twist
Look Who's Going Home, Win A Free Race Car & More
BIG NAMES GO HOME EARLY FROM 250
With 87 entries for 40 starting position, there were bound to be some big names going home early from the Banknorth 250.
In fact, the roster of non qualifiers would have put on a great feature event among themselves.
Some of the drivers who did not see the green flag for the feature was headed by Ted Christopher, who has shown the ability to win in just about any type of racecar. Also going home early were former NASCAR Busch Series driver Joe Bessey, NASCAR Busch North driver Ryan Moore, Oxford regulars Chuck Lachance and Scott King, regional Pro Stock stars GeGe Gravel, Alan Tardiff and Andy Shaw, NASCAR Southeast Tour driver Jarod Robie, PASS regular Richie Dearborn and Canadians John Flemming and Lonnie Somerville.
“I’d like to get into one of these races,” said Gravel who has won on Pro Stock tracks throughout New England. “I thought last night when we went out to the camper that we would have a shot at it. This is only my second time here. There’s always next year.”
Alan Tardiff is a 19-year-old also trying to get into the 250 for the first time. He came close in the last chance race, but had trouble that dropped him out of a transfer spot.
Several big name drivers had to hang up their helmet early from Oxford because they didn't make the show.
“It’s a tough break,” said Tardiff. “In the last qualifying race, I was warming my tires up and the steering wheel got stuck and bound up, I got into the side of Bill Whorff [winner of the last chance race]. We got moved to the back and couldn’t get back up there. All weekend we’ve been
struggling - even at my home track of Beech Ridge and I guess that we brought our bad luck here.”
Richie Dearborn also came close to winning the last chance race. He finished second and just missed the transfer spot.
“It was a rough day,” said Dearborn. “We drew dead last in the driver’s meeting for the heat races and it just went downhill from there. We had a pretty good car and survived a few accidents. We should have won the B-Main but they were telling me on the radio that Whorff had a provisional, so we thought we were in. I was just riding a bit and saving our stuff for the feature and now we’re not in. We’ll be watching instead.”
TRACK SURFACE COMES APART
Oxford Plains track owner Bill Ryan has had his oval repaved twice in recent seasons and has spared no expense doing so. Before last season, he had a special blend of asphalt imported to pave the surface. This blend didn’t hold up too well under the heat and humidity of a summer day with several hundred laps of racing going on.
“The whole inside groove was coming up,” said Johnny Clark. “They might have to pave the track again because it was horrible. I feel really bad for (track owner) Bill Ryan because he tries so hard. He’s already repaved it once. Something got to be done.”
LAPARLE CROSSES OVER BORDER FOR 250 RUN
ACT Late Model regular Patrick Laperle brought his Pro Stock out for the Banknorth 250. The driver from Quebec told Speed 51 about the appeal of the race in his homeland.
“This is the biggest race of the year,” said Laperle. “To
be in the Oxford 250 is so good for all of us. It’s been a
big race for me since I was two feet tall. I remember
seeing Junior Hanley, Derek Lynch and Dave Whitlock win the 250. At that time, those guys were at the top of their game and we’re trying to make our way to the top now.”
Patrick Laparle (#91) races with eventual winner Ben Rowe. (Norm Marx Photo)
DRIVER’S MEETING A SOURCE OF WISDOM
Some of the truest words of the day were spoken in the driver’s meeting by race director Mike Ryan.
“Be a realist and know what you are capable of,” Ryan told the crowd of competitors. “If your car isn’t going to win the 250 this year, the sooner that you realize it, the better your day will go.”
CLARK’S TEAM DRAWS NUMBER ONE
The biggest competition of the day at Oxford might be the draw for position in the heat races. There are six heats with a random drawing determining which race a driver will start in and where in that race they will get to start.
Johnny’s Clark’s team drew the best spot of all. The first
position in the first race.
“I thought that they were kidding at first, but I knew that
they wouldn’t joke like that in front of all the teams,”
said Clark. “To be starting in a position to win the pole
for the 250 is awesome.”
Clark made good use of his starting spot. He led every lap
of his qualifying race and started the feature event on the
pole. Clark also led nearly half of the race before getting
caught up in a wreck with a lapped car.
DoDo GIVES HIS CAR AWAY
How does Ben Rowe’s payday of $29,700 stack up against other forms of racing? Well, only two drivers in Saturday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race took home a larger check and most of their teams had to travel halfway across the country for that.
Meanwhile, Rowe’s hometown of Turner, Maine is within a half hour of the Oxford Plains Speedway.
BESSEY KEEPS IN PERSPECTIVE
Joe Bessey did not make it into the race. He had a fast
car, but a bad qualifying draw and some contact in his heat
race did not prove to be a winning combination. But he did
have the right attitude when it came to entering his first race of the season as a driver.
“Requirement number one here is that we have to have fun doing this or it doesn’t make much sense to even show up,” said Bessey, who will likely be back next season to try and add a 250 victory to his career resume.
GORVEATT GOES HOME WITH GOOD FINISH
The top finishing Canadian in this year’s race was Dave Gorveatt, the drivers of the #77x car. He ran a patient race to record a sixth place finish.
“I just picked my way through and didn’t burn the car up,” said Gorveatt. “I was thinking of making three stops during the race and we had the tires ready, but around lap 80 or 90 I figured that the car was pretty good and I didn’t want to give up track position. I pitted on lap 123 and probably
could have gone further because the second set of tires wasn’t as good.”
After the race, Gorveatt and his team faced a long ride home to their native Prince Edward Island.
“If you can come out of here with a top ten it’s a good day,” said Gorveatt. “It makes a long ride home shorter, but I still don’t think that we’ll drive all the way home tonight.”
One of Johnny Clark's crew men pumps his fist when realizing they pulled the pole for the first heat race.
DoDo Brockman might be back for next year’s 250, but his car won’t be - at least not with him behind the wheel.
Brockman raffled his car off with proceeds going to benefit the Maine Vintage Racing Association. The winner was someone already familiar with the #01 machine.
“The kid that won this car is the same guy that painted it, - Bobby Crocker.” said Brockman. “At the end of the Limited Sportsman feature, we drew his name. He races Strictly Stocks here. He’s going to probably be driving this thing before the end of the season. We drew his name, drove around and met up with him. He turned around and had a grin across is face that is still there this morning. It’s good that somebody local won it and that it will still be raced locally. It’s going to a deserving person. He’s a good hotshoe that might have a career at this.”
Brockman did not qualify for the 250 after a poor starting draw for his heat race.
GOOD PAYDAY FOR ROWE
That is a mighty big check there Mr. Rowe. (Norm Marx Photo)