Ralph Nason assumes he tried to qualify for the inaugural Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1974, however he failed to take action.
Nonetheless, a 12 months later, he did qualify and began sixth earlier than winding up thirty second over the three-eighths of a mile lengthy monitor.
As the beginning of Sunday’s Oxford 250 will get nearer, Nason mirrored on the race and his exceptional five-year stretch through which he received three in a row (1998, 1999, 2000), completed third in 2001 and ninth in 2002 on the age of 62.
He’s the one driver to ever win three straight.
“That was very particular,” stated the Bangor native and long-time Unity resident. “You speak to anybody who has received even considered one of them and they’re tickled [pink].”
Newburgh’s Ricky Craven received the 1991 Oxford 250 en path to a formidable 278-race nNASCAR Cup Collection profession and he stated the race was necessary to him as a result of “I’m a Maine boy and it’s a Maine factor.”
Craven, who twice received within the Cup Collection at Darlington (South Carolina) and Martinsville (Virginia), stated he used to attend the race together with his household when he was a toddler.
“It was my Daytona 500,” he stated. “And once I received it, it was a ‘check-the-box’ second.”
Nason and Winslow’s Stan Meserve had been the 2 drivers who impressed him rising up and he stated he needs Meserve had been in a position to win the 250 “as a result of he is without doubt one of the biggest drivers of all time.”
Nason stated what put him in Victory Lane thrice was the very fact he discovered the nuances of the monitor and the best way to generate probably the most velocity and discover probably the most grip by working the proper line.
There may be additionally loads of luck concerned, he stated.
Numbers are drawn for beginning spots within the six 20-lap qualifying races, and solely the highest 4 finishers advance. Then there are three 20-lap comfort races for individuals who didn’t qualify within the first set of warmth races and the highest three finishers in every qualify.
Lastly, there’s a last-chance race for the non-qualifiers, and solely the winner strikes on to the 250.
Following his ninth place end in 2002, he parked his race automobile and by no means raced the 250 once more.
“I simply misplaced curiosity in it,” stated Nason, who has owned Unity Raceway with spouse, Nancy, since 1980. “I climbed the mountain and bought to the highest. It didn’t have that huge a draw for me any extra.
“My crew was getting older and elevating households. There was an excessive amount of stuff occurring. And I didn’t need to spend the cash both,” he added.
Between tires and fuel, Nason estimated that it’s important to spend no less than $5,000 to run the race.
However he made extra $187,000 in his 18 begins on the 250 due to the three wins, six top-five finishes and 9 high 10s.
The 83-year-old Nason stated he knew the race would grow to be a fixture from the outset.
“It’s the single greatest race in New England,” Nason stated. “It’s a giant deal. It pays some huge cash, and it brings in oodles of cash.”
Drivers can now take house as a lot as $50,000 in purse and lap cash for successful the race.
The checklist of drivers who’ve run the race is a who’s who of the NASCAR Cup Collection that features six of the 11 winningest drivers of all-time.
These six have mixed for 439 race wins and 12 NASCAR Factors championships.
Jeff Gordon is third all-time with 93 wins, and he has received 4 titles. Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison every notched 84 victories to tie for fourth; present drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are ninth and tenth with 63 and 60 victories, respectively; and Rusty Wallace took the checkered flag 55 instances.
Waltrip received three factors championships, Busch has received two and Allison, Harvick and Wallace have every received one.
Harvick received the Oxford 250 in 2008, and Busch captured it in 2011.
Gordon, Waltrip, Allison and Wallace are all within the NASCAR Corridor of Fame.
Nason stated within the early years, his automobiles didn’t have the gear mandatory to finish 250 laps so the costlier automobiles would often win.
So that they invested extra money into their race automobiles.
“You needed to do it,” he stated. “Lots of guys fell by the wayside as a result of they didn’t have the cash to spend on their automobiles.”
He remembers there being “a lot confusion” within the early years of the race as a result of there have been so many automobiles entered to attempt to earn the 43-44 beginning spots.
“You simply needed to put your head down and preserve working,” Nason stated. “I had as many unhealthy years as I had good ones, perhaps even much more.”
Nason stated when the NASCAR Cup collection racers got here as much as Oxford, they had been at an obstacle in opposition to the drivers who had been concerned within the decrease Busch North and South collection.
“The Busch drivers at all times raced quick tracks [like Oxford] and the Cup drivers raced on some huge tracks like Daytona, so that they weren’t as sharp because the Busch guys,” he stated.
However he additionally identified that the presence of Cup racers helped the attendance.
Former proprietor Invoice Ryan, who owned the monitor from 2000 to 2012, had an eight-year stretch when he introduced in Cup drivers to run the race as a result of it was an off-weekend within the Cup collection.
He bought the monitor to Professional All-Stars Collection founder and promoter Tom Mayberry in 2012, and the race was ultimately moved from July to August, which conflicted with the Cup Collection schedule.
Dave Dion, who received three Oxford 250s and had 18 top-10 finishes in 26 begins, would be the grand marshall for Sunday’s race. He can be joined by Joey Kourafas, who received the primary 250 in 1974, and longtime Vermont driver Jamie Aube. The three can be a part of the Chat With the 250 Legends occasion that can be held proper earlier than the sphere is introduced.