-by Justin St. Louis

Day One of The Great Trip From Hell is complete, but not before vehicular suicide in both New Hampshire AND Maine, a pair of catastrophic camera failures, a nap atop the infield pit wall, and an evening with more beer-drinkin’, hootin’-and-hollerin’, motorcycle-lovin’, egg-salad-sandwich-devourin’ race fans than you can fit in a press box.

Oh, and a few dozen bags of speedy-dry.

Yep, it was that kind of day at Oxford Plains Speedway.


Had my sidekick for this trip, Alex Whitcomb, known what awaited him as we left Burlington this morning, he’d have been better off punching me in the face and telling me to take my credential and, well, use your imagination.

It started off fine enough, but about halfway through our trip across Route 2 the VMM Neon decided it had had enough. Two dumbfounded guys, stuck in the White Mountains of Jefferson, N.H., and with just enough cell phone service to lose a call as soon as the person on the other end says something important.


See, the engine was technically running, at least in the academic sense that one or more cylinders fired every 30 seconds or so, but that’s not the fastest way to get somewhere. After pulling over, pretending to be a mechanic, making two or three panicky phone calls, and having nothing change, we took matters into our own hands.

“(Expletive) it,” I said. “Let’s just get as far we can and figure it out from there.”

Well, we made it to Gorham, N.H., before the car really quit, but our old friends John Adams and Eddy Companion lent a helping hand by phone and eventually we got the car refired. It died again in Paris, Me., but we knew what to do, so that was no big deal.

Ya know, if driving a car with a blown engine can somehow qualify as “no big deal.”


We made it to the track — albeit six freaking hours later — to meet up with some of the Modified Racing Series drivers and officials and see just a little bit of practice for Sunday’s TD Bank 250.

Here’s what we learned:

— Between the two cameras we brought, neither one worked. One has a bad cable, the other has a bad lens, thanks to an unforgiving clod of clay at Bear Ridge a couple months back. Troy Germain will fix all that tomorrow.

— The Modified Racing Series threw off the best race I’ve ever witnessed the group put together in seven years. Clean, side-by-side racing, and a lot of it. Every one of those drivers should be proud. We say get rid of the race at Thunder Road next year and bring these guys to Oxford at least twice. Seriously.

— Seventy-nine cars registered to compete in the 250. That may not equal the count of 85 cars in 2008 or 97 cars in 2007, but it is an improvement from the field of 71 cars last year. It’s hard to believe that some of the bigger names — like Scott Payea, Bruce Thomas, Stacy Cahoon, Tim Jordan, Jamie Fisher, and Randy Potter, for example — can’t scrounge up enough sponsorship money to come race the biggest event in the region, but it is what it is.

There are 79 very capable teams in the pits with the guarantee of a few more, and we’re sure the racing will be as exciting as the 250 always is.

— Glen Luce, who finished second to Kevin Harvick in the 2008 TD Bank 250, is happy with his car.

“It’s been real good,” Luce said. “We made some tremendous changes and I haven’t been disappointed yet.”

— Nick Sweet is also happy, and spent most of the day on the track. He says he ran about 175 laps.

“The car was running about 16.1s on new tires, and by the end we were still running 16.5s to 16.7s,” said Sweet. “For 175 laps, that’s pretty good.”

— Oxford Plains Speedway regular Travis Stearns, who finished 10th in last year’s TD Bank 250, said his car was “on and off again good,” depending on the changes his crew made to the car’s setup.

— Rookie Chris Riendeau said damage from a wreck in the American-Canadian Tour event at Airborne Speedway last week may still be lingering in his car.

“The car pushed like a bear in the corners and was loose off,” Riendeau said. “We think the steering servo is messed up.” Reindeau’s team plans to look deeper into the issue on Sunday morning.

— The Caron Motorsports team is happy with it’s new driver, 2007 TD Bank 250 winner Roger Brown, and they say he’s doing well in the car.


It takes a lot to make this writer bored at a race track. But it happened at Oxford on Saturday night.

If the track’s cleanup team is anywhere near as slow on Sunday as it was on Saturday night, we’ll be here until Wednesday before the 250 is over. Two 20-lap Outlaw features and took more than an hour to complete, even though there were only two cautions in each race.

An entire bag of speedy dry was laid down for a spill in turn 2. And as soon as it was cleaned up, it was laid down again. Twice.

I took a nap on the pit wall in the infield, so I have no idea what time the races ended, but I was told the Childs family won about seven features.


Lastly, the folks from Maine-ly Action Sports, Saturday night’s sponsor, sure know how to put away the egg salad sandwiches. They must taste better when chased by eleven cases of Bud Light.

And God bless ‘em for finding that magic combination.