Episode 70 September 1, 2015
Luce Wins First Oxford 250
By now you may know that Glen Luce of Turner won his first Oxford 250 Sunday before a crowd I estimated near 20,000. Luce finished fourth in his heat race after starting 11th. This put him into the feature event.
Luce started 22nd in the feature. He was at the top or near the top on the speed charts every day with several saying he was the driver to watch in the 250. He attributes much of his success to Seth Holbrook his crew chief who along with the others in the crew wasted no time getting fresh tires on the #7L on lap 118 and 190.
County Native Has a Good Showing
My intent in going to this year’s Oxford 250 was to follow the stories of four drivers I have been following this year, Shawn Martin with his County connection, Wyatt Alexander and his County crew chief Bobby, Spencer Morse with the unique Oxford Hills Middle School Aspire program, and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. who married Fort Kent’s Brittany Theriault (who happens to be Austin Theriault’s older sister)
Pre-race Shawn Martin said, “It feels great to be in the 250 after finishing second in my heat race. I don’t care how many times you have been doing this the morning of the 250 you feel terrible. You’ve got butterflies in your stomach; you just want to get it done.”
“We went out and had a good heat race. There were some great cars in our heat. I was a little worried about that. The car was decent. We’ve been working really hard the last three weeks and finally made some improvements on it.”
Post race Martin said, “Started 11th in the 250 and we’re running top 10 when we pitted for tires at lap 118. The crew pulled off an awesome pit stop and the car ran even better on the 2nd set.”
“Drove our way from the back into the top 3. Caution came out around lap 190 and pretty much the entire field behind me pitted for tires which was not what I expected. I knew we were a sitting duck at that point. I tried to get some distance after we went green to make those guys burn up their tires when the got to us but it was to little to late.”
“I can’t thank my crew and sponsors enough for all they do. Also need to thanks Scott Farrington for helping us reconfigure all the geometry in our car a few weeks ago. The car has been a rocket.”
WAR Team are WARriors
One of my goals this year was to follow the success and failures of Wyatt Alexander his rookie season in the Super Late Model or Pro-Stock class. I ventured down to the Ellsworth race shop where I spent a day and one-half prepping the car for the season.
Their goal was to attempt to make the Oxford 250 in his rookie season. Not too many 15 year olds have done this. Wyatt gave it all he and the team had and came up a little short on qualifying.
After not making the race Wyatt said, “It’s tough because obviously we want to make the race. This is our first shot at it and most guys do not make it on their first shot.”
“They knew we were here; we were competitive all weekend. We just fell off on the consi and Last Chance 50 lap qualifier which is unfortunate but we will be here next year. It was a good effort.”
“Every champion was once a contender,” said Alexander quoting Rocky. “This was only my fourth Pro All Star Series (PASS) race.”
For Bobby Alexander, Wyatt’s crewchief and Hall of Fame racer this was also his first in that role. He said, “Very happy with the day. We learned a ton. We picked up speed. We raced with the best of the best. They knew we were here.”
“Nobody else was going three wide. He showed them what he had.”
“I can’t find fault with anything he (Wyatt) did today. He schooled me. He made moves that amazed me. He drove the car he had. He wasn’t running into anybody, just racing hard.”
Team owner and Wyatt’s dad, Brett Alexander had this to say, “I am extremely proud, very excited! I am as excited as I have been for any wins we have had.”
“Next season we may have more PASS Tour races. We will be better prepared to come try this again next year.”
“We raced with and beat some very, very good cars today. Tour cars, local guys, and guys who have a lot of laps here.”
University of Northwestern Ohio Grad Kosiba Makes Oxford 250 Debut When she was an 11 year old youngster, Lauren Kosiba began going to the races at the local track Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut with her parents. This ignited a passion within her to get involved in some way in the motorsports industry.
Bobby Alexander was working as a recruiter for UNOH when he met Lauren. She decided to attend UNOH in the High Performance Motorsports Technology program.
While at UNOH Kosiba became a member of the “Over-the-Wall Club” which taught her how to make lightning quick pit stops as a tire changer. She went on to become a member of the Andy Hilenburg Fast Track racing team in ARCA.
She travelled with the team to race tracks around the United States as a pitcrew member. After that tour she has helped out teams around her home in Massachusetts,
She met Wyatt and Bobby at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and was invited to help the team at the Oxford 250. I asked her what her plans were after the 250. She replied, “My plans are to get back with Wyatt and the WAR team and help out again. I will find other teams to help out as much as I can. Someday I’d like to go to Charlotte (North Carolina). With connections I can make that happen and work on a race team.”
Karen, Lauren’s mother said, “Give her credit for doing what she loves, changing tires on race cars. She’s good at it. She got the chance to do it here again.”
Another story I was following at the 250 was the efforts of the Oxford Hills Middle School #0 driven by Super Late Model rookie Spencer Morse to make the race. You can find information about this one-of-a-kind school project in earlier episodes of UpNorth Motorsports or visit their website.
As a former educator I was drawn to this unique program which involved middle school students in all aspects of building, financing, and campaigning a race car. You cannot get more hands-on and real world than this program.
Spencer was unable to qualify for the Oxford 250 but was reflective of what this past year has meant to him as well as the young men and women who were part of the ASPIRE team. He had only positive comments about the hard work and dedication of the students, staff, administrators, and staff at Crazy Horse Racing under the directorship of Mitch Green.
In a post race conversation with Kyle Morey, program director and staff member at Oxford Hills Middle School, we talked about student attendance, test scores, and enthusiasm for school which have resulted from this program. He also mentioned the expansion of the program’s reach into the high school to allow pre-vocational school access to this hands on learning exercise.
For me it was interesting to talk with the students and see them react under pressure between races when they had to rapidly change tires and repair damage to the car which occurred in the consolation race.
There was a quiet confidence that permeated their pit area which seemed uncharacteristic of a typical team especially one made up of teenagers. There were no raised panicky voices nor running around aimlessly. Students I spoke to were very well versed in the goals and purposes of their race team. Lead on OHMS Vikings I hope to see you again.
Polewarczyk Finishes Fifth. What’s His Connection With The County? Read and See
Though not an Aroostook County person Joey Pole, as he is called, married Brittany Theriault, daughter of Steve and Terry Theriault and sister of Austin Theriault. Therefore I am declaring him an honorary “County Man”.
Joey Pole has won the Oxford 250 in 2012 and placed fifth this year despite having to overcome some adverse conditions. “It was a long day,” said Polewarczyk. “I can tell you that. We weren’t that great all throughout practice Friday and Saturday. We kept working on it, working on it.”
“I drew terrible for our heat race. When you do that it just makes for a long day. It doesn’t matter if you have the best car or not.”
“So we had to go through the consi and won the Last Chance feature race. I never imagined that we would have a strong run like this. Those guys had a little better tires than us at the end because we had to pit for strategy to try to get track position. I can’t believe I’m talking to you right now with a fifth place!”
Joey P has been to the County a few times. He said, “It’s a cool world up there. It’s a different place. Everything is relaxed. It is beautiful, beautiful country. It is always great to go up there.”
Polewarczyk leads Wayne Helliwell in the ACT Series by one point with three races left in the season. His plan, “We’ve got to be on our game 100% the next three races. We are going to convert that car back to late model specs and give it our all.”
Reactions of Some Rookie Oxford 250 Spectators
I found out that Derek Jepson of Caribou and Gary Saucier of Fort Fairfield were making their debut as spectators at the 42nd Annual Oxford 250. I wanted to get their reactions to the event as well as mix in my own since I had not been to the 250 since somewhere around 1990 when Geoff Bodine took out Dick McCabe and McCabe went back out on the track and pile drove Bodine into the pit wall on the back stretch.
I was impressed with how many people were in the grandstands and the pits. It was packed! The races went off one after another with little or no lag time in between. The announcer was good but must have been tired after a full day of racing.
The pit steward was keeping the cars lining up and moving forward at all times.
Derek Jepson said, “For me it was the enthusiasm of the Oxford fans in the packed grandstand. T-shirts of the local favorites and past 250 champs proudly displayed. Cheers and waving hats as noted Maine racers challenged for the lead.”
“Amusing complaints and boos when the yellow flag was shown ‘just a little bit late’ for some supporters after a dusty spin-out or three. Great scene.”
Gary Saucier’s thoughts were,”I think as a first-time attendee at the 250 I was just in awe of it because of the history and the great names that have competed in and won it in past years. I just really wanted to attend after reading about it since I was a kid.”
Upcoming Events in Our Area Loring Timing Association Harvest event will be this weekend September 4-6 and promises fast times with cooler air. Check out the full event info at www.loringtiming.com
Speedway 660 closes the season this weekend with a great four days of motorsports entertainment. From their Speedway 660 press release is the following information: Geary (NB) – The biggest stock-car racing event in Atlantic Canada just got a lot bigger! Irving Blending & Packaging has stepped in as the major sponsor for SpeedWeekend at Speedway 660 in Geary, New Brunswick September 4th to 7th.
“This is an incredible opportunity for us to get out and meet our valued customers; the fans and racers who use our products,” said Chris Taylor, Marketing Manager with Irving Blending & Packaging. “We’ve long supported the 150 Sportsman race and this year we’re very excited to support an entire weekend of racing.”
Attendance for the four day Irving Blending & Packaging SpeedWeekend is expected to top more than 20,000 fans from throughout the Maritimes, New England and Quebec.
The highlight of SpeedWeekend is the 250 lap Pro Stock race on Sunday, September 6th. It attracts some of the best short-track drivers in North America who race for an $85,000 purse. The total purse for the three days of racing is $110,000. “Irving Blending & Packaging has been a big supporter of racing for several years and we’re thrilled to announce their increased support of our fans, our race teams and our sport,” said Shawna Roy, representing the Speedway 660 ownership group.
“Their support allows us to continue to grow the sport and bring SpeedWeekend to a new level.”
Many of the race drivers in Atlantic Canada use Irving Blending & Packaging lubricants in their cars. Several of them are sponsored by the company including: Travis Benjamin, winner of the 2014 Pro Stock 250; Lonnie Sommerville, a two-time 250 winner; Cole Boudreau, the 2014 RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock Rookie of the Year, Cole Butcher, winner of two Maritime Pro Stock Tour races in 2015 and; Dave O’Blenis, a former 250 winner, and his daughters Alexandra and Courtney.
“This is exciting news for our sport and I’m really happy the folks from Speedway 660 got together with Irving Blending & Packaging to take SpeedWeekend to new heights,” said O’Blenis, a five-time Speedway 660 Pro Stock champion. “Irving Blending & Packaging has been great to me over the years; their products and support of our Street Stock, Sportsman and Pro Stock cars is the main reason our cars have been to Victory Lane as often as they have been.”
The Irving Blending & Packaging SpeedWeekend runs from Friday, September 4th until Monday, September 7th. The Harvey’s Family Corn-Boil and Infield Concert with Tristan Horncastle kick things off on SpeedWeekend Friday and this year Irving I-24 is sponsoring the crowd favourite Sportsman 150 race Saturday night. On Sunday the best drivers in eastern North America will converge on Speedway 660 for the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 Pro Stock race and SpeedWeekend wraps up on Labour Day Monday with the Capital City Auto Parts ENDURO 200.
Let’s Go Racing!
Soli Deo Gloria