PORTLAND, Maine — In 1989, Karen Schulz of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., became the only woman to take the green flag for the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Schulz, who ran in one K and N Pro Series East race that year, received a provisional and started 42nd in the 43-car field.
She finished 42nd, one spot behind Davey Allison, who was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year in 1987.
Twenty-five-year-old Vanna Brackett hopes to be the first woman to ever qualify for the 39th annual race on Sunday.
Brackett, daughter of OPS Late Model driver and long-time TD Bank 250 racer Tim Brackett and sister of OPS Late Model driver T.J. Brackett, is a rookie in the Late Model class at Oxford
She is leading the division’s rookies, as she is currently 17th in points. Her brother is fourth in points and her dad is fifth.
“I just want to race my way in. I want to earn it,” said Vanna Brackett at the annual midweek press conference for the race Wednesday.
“It would be great if she qualified,” said her dad. “They’ve been trying some stuff. It’s a new crew and a new car, although it isn’t a brand new car. They’re all learning. I tried to help her a little bit this week. I think she’ll be a little better.”
“We’ve made some changes this week, hopefully for the better,” said Vanna Brackett, who has one top-10 finish so far.
She said her chances could hinge on the “luck of the draw.”
There are a series of 15-lap qualifying heats and the starting spots for the heat races are drawn out of a hat. The top four finishers in those heat races qualify for the 250 while the rest have to qualify in consolation or last-chance heat races later in the day.
If a driver gets a bad draw and starts in the back in the first set of heat races, it’s difficult to get through the field in just 15 laps.
“Nobody really knows. You have guys who make it every year and they don’t make it for the first time because of the draw or because they got in a wreck during the heat race,” said Brackett, who has accumulated impressive credentials leading up to her jump to Late Models.
She won four Ladies Division points championships at OPS and is the all-time wins leader in the division with 35.