Cars go around the track for practice runs prior to the 2023 Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Lee Horton/Sun Journal

OXFORD — For five decades, the Oxford 250 was Maine’s only stock car race that drivers wanted to win. It also offered a big payout, with the winner earning about $25,000 in recent years.

Now, drivers have another big-race option this season — and one that will pay more than the Oxford 250 and could attract at least two NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

Oxford Plains Speedway will host the Celebration of America 300 on July 2-3. The 300-lap race will pay the winner $40,000.

The winner’s purse will be one of the largest offered in asphalt Super Late Model racing in the United States this year.

“I’ve been thinking about doing another major event for years,” said Tom Mayberry, who owns both Oxford Plains Speedway and the Pro All Stars Series (PASS), which will sanction the COA 300. “We have a lot of race teams that are committed to us and support us, and I really wanted to do something for them.”

Track owner Tom Mayberry chats with racer Dennis Spencer Jr. during the Oxford 250 media day last season at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Daniel Hemric said they intend to enter the COA 300, Mayberry said. Georgia native and 2018 Oxford 250 champion Bubba Pollard also plans to compete. Busch, who won the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015, won the Oxford 250 when it was a Late Model race in 2011. Hemric won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2021.


“It was probably one of the biggest races of my career, ever, up to this point,” Pollard said of his Oxford 250 victory on a recent episode of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “Dale Jr. Download” podcast. “It’s one that will always be special to me, only because all those people talked so much crap about ‘there’s no way it’s possible.’ ”

Locally, teams have taken notice.

“I feel like the 300 is going to be a bigger deal than the 250,” Derek Griffith said last weekend following practice for a PASS race at Oxford. “Anytime you get that kind of money to win, mid-week, guys coming up from down south, you’re going to have the people that at the end of the day you want to beat.”

After years of spending entire seasons focusing on trying to win the Oxford 250 every summer, teams are now faced with a choice. There’s the Oxford 250 with its rich history and a who’s-who list of former winners. And now there’s the Celebration of America 300 with a large pile of cash awaiting one driver in victory lane.

“I think I’d still rather win the 250,” driver Trevor Sanborn said. “It’s the history, that’s really it.”

NASCAR Pocono Preview Auto Racing

NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch has indicated he will race in the inaugural Celebration of America 300 this summer at Oxford Plains Speedway. AP photo

Still, the Parsonsfield native was one of 31 drivers who competed in the season opener at Oxford Plains last weekend – an astounding number for a weekly event under cool conditions.


“It blows my mind how much the race track changes in hours. I don’t know what it is,” said Sanborn, who won the 50-lap feature. “We ran the weekly feature to set up for the next week’s weekly feature, which is a qualifier for the 300. That’s the only reason we did it.”

On Sunday, another large field is expected to compete in the 100-lap qualifier at Oxford. The winner is guaranteed a provisional starting spot in the COA 300. Taking the green flag in the 300 is worth a minimum of $2,000 in purse money.

Under Mayberry, PASS has a history of long-distance races. He promoted a 400-lap event at Wiscasset Speedway when he leased the facility in 2003, and the series held an annual 300-lap race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough for several years prior to the facility’s closure in 2021.

He toyed with the idea of making the Celebration of America 300 a 200-lap race, but he said he wanted to avoid the possibility that drivers could complete the race without pitting for tires or fuel. Furthermore, he didn’t want to hold another 250-lap race, in an effort to keep Oxford’s marquee event unique.

“The thing that I like so much about Oxford is that most races you go to you can say there’s three to five drivers that have a chance to win,” Mayberry said. “Oxford is so different from one day to the next, and just the way it races, over the years a lot of times there’s 15-20 guys that show up that can win. I hope it’s the same way in July.”

Comments are no longer available on this story