Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Paul Betit firstname.lastname@example.org
The new owner of Oxford Plains Speedway is welcoming all types of cars to July's TD Bank 250.
When the impending sale of the three-eighth mile track was announced Sunday, Tom Mayberry, founder and promoter of the regional Pro All Stars Series, said next summer's 40th running of the prestigious short-track race will feature the return of PASS super late model standards.
For the past six years, entry to the 250 has been restricted to the Late Model cars that compete on the American-Canadian Tour, another regional racing circuit.
Since making the announcement, Mayberry said rules will be adjusted so that owners of both types of cars can make modifications to bring them into alignment with each other.
"The plan is so that every single race car in the Northeast can come and run in this race," said Mayberry, a former OPS race car driver who lives in Naples. "Everything is going back to 10-inch tires, like the pro stocks that used to be here. We're actually going to put a little bit of weight on the PASS car for the 250, so the (Late Model) guys can keep up."
The changes will open up the 250 -- with a payout of as much as $50,000 to the winner -- to cars that have been unable to enter it for the past six years. But the modifications also may be too costly for some Late Model owners.
Tim Brackett, a veteran OPS driver from Buckfield, estimated it could cost as much as $3,000 to convert a Late Model with all new parts, including shocks, a four-barreled carburetor and 10-inch wheels, into a legal car for the race, but he said he was able to convert his Late Model to a Pro Stock for much less by using used parts.
"I tested it last weekend, and I was very competitive," said Brackett, who intends to race Saturday in PASS North's Fall Finale at the speedway.
Tommy Ricker, a regular in OPS' Late Model division from Poland, isn't sure what he's going to do with his car.
"This is going to take some engineering," he said. "It's a case where I've got to do some homework, I've got to look around."
Ricker sees the shock kit as the big problem.
"For Super Late Model rules, they are a $300 shock," he said. "That's $1,200. I spend $160 per shock for my car now."
The switch to SLM standards will open the race to cars that currently run in the Pro Series at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.
"It's something that is good for Maine motorsports," said Bill Rodgers, a driver from Old Orchard Beach who was runner-up in the Pro Series division at Beech Ridge this past season. "It's going to be more exciting, faster paced with cars that are much louder. It gives us another big race to run in, especially with all the money we put into our cars."
Still, the expense of running in the Oxford 250 could be a barrier to some drivers.
"It's a $3,500 weekend," said David Oliver, a driver from Standish who recently moved up to the Pro Stock series at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, considering the expense of setting shop for three days at the track.
In the past, Oliver said he couldn't afford to race for one of the 42 slots on the 250's starting grid.
"Now, we definitely can do it sponsorship-wise, and we have a car that is now legal for it," he said.
During the course of this season, 84 cars ran in at least one race in the PASS North's SLM division, with 22 cars racing in at least five of the circuit's first 14 events.
After rain washed out two earlier dates, PASS North will crown champions in its SLM, Sportsmen and Mod divisions Saturday at OPS. The rain date is Sunday.
Going into the final race, Travis Benjamin of Morrill holds an eight-point lead over Cassius Clark of Farmington in the Super Late Models.
Six-time champion Johnny Clark of Hallowell trails Benjamin by 54 points.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: