Touring Series News
Beginner’s Luck At Oxford
-by Alex Whitcomb
Heading into the weekend, I knew I had signed up for a wild weekend in one of New England’s biggest races. I couldn’t have anticipated the way our day has gone so far. Good thing, because the trip over here has been the most thrilling part so far.
A few stops of awkward, makeshift (fake) mechanic work on a car that wanted nothing to do with moving forward today, it took us hours more than we had planned to finally arrive at the gorgeous Oxford Plains Speedway. With some help, and a little luck, “Sweet Baby” as we fondly called it, finally died in the parking lot of the track. That was alright though, it was all we had asked her for.
Of course once we arrived, I started snapping pictures - Pictures that will eternally remain in my camera that refuses to connect to computers. Oh, it has been a wonderfully convenient trip thus far.
Once reaching the track, we had new sights to focus on. 64 late models have entered the pits so far, but that is a far cry from what it has been in years past. A few of these, namely Joey Pole, Roger Brown, Donald Theetge, Glen Luce, and Nick Sweet have been noted as happy with their cars and were fast in practice. Everything will change for these drivers though when they run 250 laps in an effort to win New England’s biggest crown jewel.
The Modified Series have looked much better here than their previous Thunder Road trip, running their heats with virtually no trouble at all. They are looking fast for their 100 lapper tonight, that’s for sure.
I have been most impressed by two things � The incredible facility, and the amount of speedy dry on it. The grounds are enormous. A large pit area, a great raceway with many lanes to race on, a big infield, and a decently sized crowd makes for a spectacular view. It has much more of a NASCAR event feel than that of the usual local tracks. The media tower has been very good to me after the way my day has gone. However, apparently with giant facilities come copious amounts of speedy dry. The regular division’s features here have been seemingly endless, and they haven’t had many cautions. How could the race be long you ask? As soon as any wreck happens, the crew pours bag(s) of speedy dry onto the track, to make sure to suck up all the oil, plus a bit of the magma underneath the earth’s crust as well. Then, after racers get through it and it blows off the track, they throw another one on � just for good measure.
Well thank you, safety crew of Oxford Plains Speedway, for making sure that the track is bone dry, and that I have enough time to nap in the infield during your features.
Luckily, Oxford Plains officials have made our hours under caution exciting, breaking it down to some Will Smith and the Black Eyed Peas, the obvious choice for race music. This place knows what’s up.
Finally, at long last (10:30pm) The Modified Racing Series is on the track, and ready to rock.
Wow, what a show put on by the Modified Racing Series. I have to say after watching them at Thunder Road I was worried for them to say the least. It’s a wonder what it can do for a show when the “widow maker” isn’t around. They were unbelievable. First of all, they ran 74 laps without a caution. If you had seen their show at Thunder Road awhile back, you would have bet your money on Mickey Mouse winning the presidential race before you would bet these Modified cars could possibly go 74 laps caution free.
However, the battle for the lead was most fantastic. A fast runner in the heats, not to mention being a former winner here, when the #22 of David Pinkham took over the lead early on, it looked all but over. Pinkham flexed muscle early, and gave himself a healthy lead.
However, it was not to be for Pinkham. Out of nowhere came MRS Founder Jack Bateman in the #17 car to take over the lead, and begin running. Only the lap 74 caution flag was able to slow down Bateman’s treacherous pace.
After the lap 74 caution, the racing heated up. Pinkham was forced to make a pit stop for some unknown reason, and was never seen again at the front of the pack. Two-time winner at Thunder Road, Steve Masse, looked like he might make a move at the end after starting from the 23rd position, but it was all for naught in the closing laps. At the front it was all Bateman, but a late race restart changed the game once again.
On the last restart, Andy Suess, Louie Mechalides, and Bateman battled for the lead. A battle that Bateman would lose, falling all the way back to fourth. Suess, after some absolutely thrilling moves, took the lead away from Mechalides for the final time with just a few short laps to go, and never looked back.
Three wide racing for the modified series, and some wild passes for the lead � not to mention just the sheer amount of lead changes � made for an absolutely thrilling show after a somewhat lackluster night of racing. As opposed to Thunder Road’s show, this time the Modified Series was a breath of fresh air, and the source of excitement, on a beautiful Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.