( Click on the underlined words for pictures. )
(Oxford – Maine) I was at the TD Banknorth 250 held at the Oxford Plains Speedway this evening and saw Eddie MacDonald of Rowley (MA) win the event.
Earlier this week I took an interest in this race because I thought that someone from Rowley had been in it last year. On the Oxford Plains website, I learned that there were actually two drivers (Mike Johnson and Eddie MacDonald) from the readership towns of The Town Common.
Divinely, The Town Common wanted the story and the media department of OPS put me on the media list.
I talked to both drivers before they did any racing. I was taken by how soft-spoken and polite Eddie was. He had a crew that was busy with a lot of high-tech equipment. Mike was also easy to talk with. He had a crew of one working on his car.
Eddie ran in the third qualifying race. I got confused, unaware that there were two #17’s in the race, and thought he had not qualified. Turns out, he had started in sixth and gone on to win the heat and qualify.
Mike was in the fourth qualifying race in the pole position. His very long day started early. He quickly lost the lead and before long spun out. A second try in the consolation round resulted in another spinout. A third try in the Last Chance round had him starting at the back and staying there. At least there was no damage to his car. His difficulties had almost everything to do with a bad transmission that allowed him very little practice.
Eddie, on the other hand, put in hours of practice time and his car was ready. Winning the third heat, got Eddie placed on the inside in the second row for the TD Banknorth 250.
I had been on the pit side of the track for all the qualifying races. I opted for the other side and the press box for the big race. Good choice because the pits were transferred to the infield closer to the grandstand. The press box was enclosed so the roar of the engines was lessened. The view was terrific and there was food to be had. Yes, very good choice!
They had the parade of the cars and all the drivers including Eddie were introduced. After the national anthems, a howitzer was fired off that put a scare into most of the folks in the grandstand.
Eddie got the lead for the first time in Lap 5 and was in the top five until he pitted on Lap 129. That pitting was crucial because a year ago he had pitted while in the lead and had come back with a car that didn’t run as well. He ended up a disappointing sixth.
When he came back this time, I couldn’t figure out what place he was actually in. On a caution a few laps later, he was 15th in row but some of those cars were a lap behind. On Lap 147, he was listed fifth. Twenty laps later, he was in first. He never gave the lead back.
There was one narrow escape when a car spun out right in front of him in front of the grandstand. He dodged by it and then just took off on the restart.
From my position in the press box, I was a little tardy getting down onto the track afterwards. I missed a picture of Eddie getting out of his car and standing on the roof.
There was a replica of the check that Eddie will receive for the win ($25,000) and the lead laps ($10,300).
It was quite the adventure and I thank God for it.