For the first time in most current drivers’ memories, one of the biggest and most important short-track races in the Northeast, and one of the richest in the country, will be contested in a month other than July.
Oxford Plains Speedway and Pro All-Star Series officials announced Wednesday that the Oxford 250 will be contested on Aug. 30, 2015.
Speedway owner Tom Mayberry made the announcement late Wednesday, and said in a news release that the event will continue to be a Pro All Stars Series-sanctioned, open Super Late Model event.
“By announcing the move of the 42nd Annual Oxford 250 to Aug. 30, 2015, we feel this will give ample time to our fans who are looking to plan their summer vacations around this prestigious event,” Mayberry said in a news release. “The Oxford 250 is arguably the biggest event in short track racing and we look forward to seeing everyone next August.”
OPS made its announcement one day after NASCAR released its 2015 schedule, one that allowed for no off weekends in July.
Aug. 28-30 will be a break in the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule a week after the Bristol night race, making it likely that the speedway will try to lure a big-name driver to supplement the field.
The move took many area drivers by surprise. Reached for comment Wednesday, three-time Oxford 250 winner Mike Rowe of Turner hadn’t yet heard of the date shift.
“I’m not really sure why they’re doing it right now, but I’m sure they have a good reason,” Rowe said. “No matter when they run it, I’m sure they’ll still get a lot of cars and a good turnout.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever known it to run in any other month but July in my life,” driver Dave Farrington Jr. of Jay said.
That’s not to say he sees the move as a bad thing.
“If anything, we’ll be more prepared with it being later in the season,” said Farrington, who is likely to clinch the championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough this weekend. “It should benefit us, and everyone else, in that way. Obviously the 250 is on our radar after making it into the race in each of the last four years, so I don’t think it matters when it is going to run.”
Current Oxford Plains Pro Late Model points leader Shawn Martin of Turner sees an advantage to the move, particularly for the drivers who call the track home.
“Definitely, for the guys that run a full Oxford schedule, it gives them more time to fine tune things at the track every week,” Martin said.
The one drawback Martin saw?
“The kids might be back in school in some spots by then,” Martin said. “But I’m sure people will work with that. The die-hards will still be there, and attendance won’t be a problem. It’s a little later in the season, but regardless, it’s still the 250.”
The Oxford 250 has been contested on the third Saturday in July since 2004.
It was moved to that weekend to coincide with an open date on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar one week following the series’ race at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. That week has since been scheduled on the Sprint Cup circuit. Sunday, Aug. 30, however, remains an open date on the NASCAR schedule.
Kyle Busch was the last Sprint Cup driver to compete in the 250 when he won in 2011.
Past Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne appeared the next summer, but he was a registered Nationwide Series competitor at the time.
Oxford has hosted the race in July every year since 1992, when it ran on June 28.
A full schedule of events and support divisions for Oxford 250 weekend will be announced at a later time.