Category Archives: Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt wins 5th feature

Alex Mowatt (11) uses the high side in the feature
The order of finish was established early in the feature.

(Oxford ME) He’s the Bandits points leader at Oxford Plains Speedway.

But it had been five weeks since his last win.

Tonight, Alex Mowatt added to his point total and ended his five-week non-winning streak.

“I’m leading in points,” said Alex afterwards, “My car is in one piece.  I can’t complain.”

Luke Mowatt (2nd) and Alex Mowatt (1st)

Luke Mowatt (Alex’s younger brother) took second and continued his run of quality races.

Luke runs second to his brother Alex

After starting the season fifth, seventh, and tenth, Luke had been either first (six times) or second (four times) for ten straight weeks!  That’s consistency.

No question that both the Mowatts have fast cars and can keep up with each other.  What they can’t do is pass each other.  It’s not that they aren’t trying to do it!

In the lone Bandits heat and the 20-lap feature, Alex successfully used the same strategy.  He went to the upper part of the track and was quickly past the front cars.  Once in front he basically ran out the laps.

Alex dominated the Bandits heat

“I jumped right into the early lead,” said Alex.  “I took my opportunity and didn’t look back.”

“He got to the front quick,” recalled Luke.  “It took me about five laps to get into second.”

Once both Mowatts were in the top positions the outcome wasn’t hard to figure.

“The Mowatts are tough,” said 3rd place finisher Jeff Libby.  “They’re fast.  I don’t know what to do with them.  You’ve got to get to the front first and fight them.”

Luke tried to get by his brother, but it didn’t work.  “I knew he wasn’t going to give me the bottom and I definitely couldn’t get by him on the outside.”

On the 12th lap, Luke gave his brother a bump.  “I just wanted him to know that I was there,” said Luke laughing. “I think he enjoyed the bump I gave him.”

Alex finishes first with Luke (22) second

Alex held onto the lead and won by several car lengths.

The Bandits spent a long time getting checked over after the race. 

Two weeks ago, Jeff Libby was disqualified after a lengthy post-race checkout.

“They were trying to figure out some of our transmission codes tonight,” said Jeff.  “Some didn’t match but it got figured out.”

I asked Jeff about the disqualification: “I was a little hot-headed when it happened.  It was over something we didn’t know about.  It had to do with the wheels.  We thought they were all the same, but they weren’t.  We were wrong.  Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.”

Karmann, Jeff, and Tony

“Tonight, was a good race,” said Jeff.  “We are a little bit off from where we should be, but we still managed to come home third.  You can’t complain about that.”

Luke said that the track was “wicked” slippery.  Jeff said, “The track lost a lot of grip with all the rain we’ve had.”

There was plenty of action in the Street Stock Division.  I caught Shawn Knight (#25) spinning out in one of their heats.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Contact in the Bandits feature

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford Plains Speedway

Nick Wilson wins first Bandits feature

Nick Wilson wins his first Bandits feature

(Oxford ME) What a night!

Maybe it was the full moon.

Things happened.

Karson Hewins and Nick Wilson became first-time winners tonight.

Very young Karson Hewins wins a feature

Ten-year-old Karson led wire-to-wire in the Rookies Division and Nick used the same formula in the Bandits Division.

According to the announcer, Karson may have been the youngest driver to ever win a race at Oxford Plains Speedway.

If you’re going to win a Bandits feature you must be able to hold off the Mowatt brothers.

Jeff Libby did it on July 5th.  Brandon Caston did it on May 8th.  The other ten Bandits features?  Won by either Luke Mowatt (6 times) or his brother Alex (4 times).

Tonight, it was young Nick Wilson’s turn to hold off the Mowatts.

Nick started in the pole position for the first time this season.

“I started up front and had a good car,” explained Nick afterwards.

The question was whether Nick could hold onto the top spot. 

Very quickly the race had Nick in front with one of the Mowatts beside him and another behind him. 

Nick Wilson chased by Alex Mowatt (11) and Luke Mowatt

“I was nervous the whole race seeing them there, but I knew that they’d run me clean,” said Nick.

A spinout away from the front in Lap Eight bunched up everyone including Nick, Luke, and Alex.

“I didn’t want to see that caution, but we got it done after that,” said Nick.

Nick did not give up his front position on the restart and held on to get his first win.

Nick Wilson maintained his lead after the restart

“I’ve had a couple of seconds,” said Nick, “it feels really good to finally win.”

Getting to the front early in crucial and Alex and Luke know it.

Bandits get off the track

“Whoever gets to the front first is going to get the position,” explained Alex (3rd) afterwards.  “Passing is hard.  Our cars are even.  I can’t pass him, and he can’t pass me.”

“Nick ran a good race,” said Luke (2nd).  “It was a lot of fun.”

Luke won his first Bandits feature last August.  I asked Alex how his brother has become a six-time winner this year.

“He has more experience.  More seat time.  He also has another car that is not as tired as the old one.”

Nice night for racing.  The bad weather on Friday night pushed that night’s schedule into the regular Saturday night schedule.  Talk about a long night!

But there were, “Do-you-remember-the-time?” moments on this evening.  Four times vehicles flipped over, and red flags came out.  Four times, not once!

In each instance, twice with trucks and twice with cruisers, the drivers got out of the vehicles without life-threatening injuries.  One of the drivers, however, was taken away in an ambulance.

I tend to keep a camera “eye” on the OPS first turn early in races because often trouble shows up there.  I got a pretty good look at the accident that Drew Hayward (Cruiser Division) got into.

(All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford Plains Speedway

Brandon Caston gets first win

Brandon Caston wins first Bandits feature

(Oxford ME) Two weeks ago, Brandon Caston took the lead early in the Bandits feature…..and lost it at the end.

Not this time.

It was Brandon’s first win at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Brandon Caston across the finish line with Jeff Libby second

“I’ve been chasing this for four years,” said Brandon afterwards.  “I couldn’t be happier.”

Jeff Libby was the guy in Brandon’s rearview mirror as he navigated lap-after-lap of the 20-lap feature in front.

Jeff Libby with 2nd place trophy

Two weeks ago, it was last year’s points winner, Alex Mowatt behind him.

“It was the first race of this season,” recalled Brandon.  “I was out there getting used to the car.  I had the lead and then I saw Alex coming.  I had watched him for two years and I knew he was quick.  I was like, ‘Oh, no.  Here we go.’  I overdrove the car and lost the lead.  I was, however, happy to get my first trophy.”

This time around Brandon kept the challenger (Jeff Libby) in his rearview mirror in the closing laps and secured his first top spot.

Alex Mowatt finished third after winning the first two weeks.

“It’s good to get on the podium with Jeff and Alex,” said Brandon.  “They’re really good people.”

Brandon Caston (middle) makes his move on the leaders

One of the appealing trademarks for spectators of Bandits features is that the more successful a driver has been, the further back he is placed to start in future races.  (I’m not sure the drivers are thrilled with this!) 

“I was pretty nervous going into the feature,” said Jeff Libby, “because I was starting in the middle of the pack.  There were guys up front with less experience.”

Accurate split decisions become essential for the previously successful drivers if they are to finish at, or near, the front as they have done before.

“I knew going into the race that I had to get to the outside,” said Brandon.  “The car was really fast out there.  To get there early I ended up pushing Caleb (Proctor) out three wide.  I didn’t mean to do that.  I thought there was room.”

Brandon Caston (14) gets the lead with Jeff Libby (44) following

But Brandon did get outside and quickly was by early leader Josh Lovell and on his way to the front for the rest of the race.

Victory lap

Brandon’s move helped Jeff Libby.

“Our buddy Brandon poked a big hole for us, and we followed him through it,” said Jeff. “It worked out for the best for us tonight.”

Jeff and Brandon both won their heats.

Jeff was able to hold off Alex Mowatt in his heat. 

“Alex is very fast,” said Jeff.  “We did everything we could to keep him behind us.”

Brandon Caston: “Three years ago I started racing using Caleb’s old O4.  It didn’t go too well and so I took a couple of years off.  Last year, I did a little bit and finished 4th in my first race back (July 18th).  I decided to buy another car this year and go for the points and see how it would do.”

First corner in the Bandits feature

Jeff Libby: “The car is going very good (4th and two 2nds).  We’re running a different tire this year and that seems to be helping quite a bit.”

Overcast weather looking as if it might rain but it didn’t.

Lengthy time in post-race tech for the Bandits drivers after new regulations kicked in.

Good to finally be at OPS in person although the videos of the races from the previous two weeks have been very helpful is seeing how things are going at OPS.

The Bandits feature today was restart free.  Maybe the “inexperienced” drivers are getting better at navigating the early laps?  Last season that first corner was close to a fender-bender certainty!

Josh Lovell (42) and Nick Wilson (53) collide

It took Jeff Libby nine weeks last season to get his first-ever top finish.  Hasn’t had one after three weeks this season.  About due?

Expecting something special from Alex Mowatt in Week Four. 

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Early going in first heat – Jeff Libby leading Caleb Proctore and Alex/Luke Mowatt
Start of the second heat with Josh Lovell in front

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt wins Bandits finale and points championship at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt takes a victory lap after winning the Bandits feature tonight

Alex Mowatt

(Oxford ME) Great start.

Great finish.

And in between wasn’t so bad for Alex Mowatt either!

Tonight, at Oxford Plains Speedway, 21-year-old Alex won the Bandits twenty-lap feature and took the points championship as well.

“We got what we wanted,” said Alex afterwards.

Alex was the winner on opening night (June 27th) and finished the same way in tonight’s season finale.

In between those victories, Alex won two other races and never finished lower than fifth in any race in a very competitive division.

Spinout early in the race

This season OPS used a 3-week rolling average to place cars in the Bandits features.  That rewarded the faithful attendees who weren’t doing very well with front-of-the-pack starts.  The “successful” drivers had to start further back and get by cars to get to the front.  This arrangement had a habit of making the first few laps exciting to watch.

Tonight was no exception.  Lap One, spinout and a caution.  Lap Two, spinout and another caution.

Fortunately, for Alex and his brother Lukas who finished second, the spinouts didn’t bother them.

Lukas Mowatt

“I started in ninth,” explained Lukas.  “and was on the bottom.  I saw it happen and was able to sneak under it.”

Alex gained ground on the first caution and had the lead after the second caution.

After that tonight’s race reminded me of many from last year.  The cars got in a row on the bottom (Alex, Lukas, Eric Parlin, Chad Wills, Ralph Green) and stayed there, lap after lap.

“If you pull up to try to pass you may not get back,” said Eric Parlin.

“After the first few laps, everybody kind of cleared out and it was clear sailing,” said Lukas.

Lukas told me that he felt lucky to have finished second.  “I changed a tire after the heat and it probably wasn’t the greatest idea,” he said.  “The car was really loose in the feature.  I had all I could do to keep it under control.”

Chad Wills was 5th tonight and finished 2nd in the Bandits points standings.  “It was an up-and-down season for us.  We won two races and used four different cars.  We won the overall championship last year so I’m happy with how this season ended up.”

Eric Parlin finished 3rd in the race and 4th in the points standings

Eric Parlin used the same “up-and-down” description for his Bandits season.  He won a race on Week #3 after finishing 10th and 15th the two previous weeks.  He also had his share of car trouble.  “Please include in the story how thankful I am for the help Caleb Proctor and Brandon Caston have given me,” said Eric.  “I never would have finished 4th in points without them.”

Six different drivers (Alex, Lukas, Chad, Eric, Jeff Libby, Travis Verrill) took checkered flags during the eleven-race season.  Next year looks as if it may be just as competitive.  Alex Mowatt was the only one that I spoke with who wasn’t certain he’d race with the Bandits.

“I’m going to have a full season of Bandits next year,” said Lukas who didn’t compete until August.  “I’ve got a new car.”

“I’ll be back racing again,” said Eric.  “It’s fun.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a blast.  I’ve raced other tracks just trying to get more experience.”

Chad Wills

“I’d like to try the Outlaws,” said Chad, “but my budget will keep me in the Bandits division for a while.”

I have gotten used to the small crowds in the grandstands.  It would be nice to have that all changed to the way it was come next season.

Really impressed with the driving skills of Alex Mowatt.  His ability to race up on the track kept him away from much of the trouble early in races.  Never finishing lower than fifth enabled him to win the points championship by a wide margin.  He was a distant 7th in 2019.

Nice crisp fall night for racing.  There was only one race (of eleven) postponed in 2020.

The delayed start of the racing season worked well for me because my wife and I don’t usually arrive in Maine until June.

I enjoyed interacting with the cooperative/appreciative drivers.

All the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (mcclellandpeter) and Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).

Eric Parlin, Travis Verrill, and Chad Wills

Alex and Lukas Mowatt finished 1-2 in tonight’s feature

Alex Mowatt under the checkered flag in the Bandits feature

The lineup for many laps – Alex, Lukas, Eric, Chad, and Ralph Green

Start of the feature

Jeff Libby, winner in Week 10, off with car trouble

Chad Wills chased by Lukas Mowatt in the 2nd heat

Alex Mowatt passes Eric Parlin in the first heat

First heat – Alex Mowatt on the upper level

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby gets first Bandits win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby got that elusive first feature win tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby (44) never trailed in his heat or in the feature.

(Oxford ME) Food can be a great motivator.

“My friend Chris Foster told me that if I won tonight, he’d buy me some ice cream,” explained tonight’s Bandits winner Jeff Libby laughing afterwards. “Now I’ve got to go find him.”  Good luck with that!

Last time the Bandits raced (August 28th) at Oxford Plains Speedway, Jeff broke through with his first heat win.  Tonight, he topped that with not only a heat win but also his first feature’s win.

“We had great starting positions (front row), new tires, and a crew that has been working real hard on this car,” Jeff explained.

All those things came together on this night to make it easy for the driver from Auburn (ME).  “We led all the green laps today,” recalled Jeff.  “That was awesome.  It felt amazing to finally win.”

Jeff is the fifth different driver to get a checkered flag in the ten Bandits races to date.

Shelby, Mason, and Chad Wills after tonight’s 2nd place finish

Chad Wills, who finished second, saw the multiple winners as a good thing for the division: “Seeing others win, opens peoples’ eyes to their chances of building a car and doing the same.”

“Jeff has improved every year,” added Chad.  “He’s a lot more competitive than he’s been in years past.”

In the 20-lap feature, Jeff started in the front next to rookie Doug Churchill.  Three laps into the race, Jeff was away from the pack and on his way to an easy win.  Not so fast.

On Lap Three, Eric Parlin (driving Chad Proctor’s car) and points leader Alex Mowatt collided bringing out a caution.

“It was my fault,” said Eric post-race.  “I’ve got to do better.”

Getting ready for the restart in the Bandits feature

The caution gave the field a chance to get another crack at the lead.  “When you’re out front you never want to see yellow,” said Jeff.

But yellow it was.  On this night, however, it didn’t matter.  Jeff flew away from Chad Wills and the rest of the Bandits on the restart and restored a sizable lead quickly.

“I thought that we might be able to battle it out with Jeff a little bit,” said Chad, “but as the laps ticked off, he just pulled away.”

Chad ended up feeling fortunate that he held off Luke Mowatt (winner on 250 weekend) for second.  “I thought that Luke had a faster car,” explained Chad.  “It forced me to protect the bottom a little more because if Luke got under me, I would have been 6th before I could get back down.  I appreciated Luke driving me clean.”

Alex Mowatt, who was put at the back of the pack from the Lap Three spinout, rallied to finish fifth.  Because the starting positions in the Bandits feature are determined by a 3-week rolling average, the points leader is regularly needing to rally to improve a bad starting position.  Alex has accomplished this feat so often that he should be the 2020 Bandits points leader after the divisions next, and final, race of the season on September 26th.

Ralph Green ended up 4th.

Jeff Libby leads Dean Jordan in the first heat

Jeff Libby defeated Dean Jordan and won the first heat handily.

The second heat featured a tight battle between Alex Mowatt and Eric Parlin.  Alex, who seems to thrive on the upper levels of the track, pulled by late in the race to take the win.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

I am also on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

Travis Verrill (24) veers off course in the feature

Alex Mowatt (11) and Eric Parlin (04) off the track in the feature

Jeff Libby all alone in the lead early in the feature

Jeff Libby pulls away early in the feature

Getting ready for the start of the Bandits feature

Alex Mowatt (11) gets past Eric Parlin (04) in the 2nd heat

Eric Parlin (04) pressed by Alex Mowatt (11) in the 2nd heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford Plains Speedway

Johnny Clark wins the 47th Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway

Johnny Clark is all smiles after winning the 47th Oxford 250

Johnny Clark moments after winning the Oxford 250

(Oxford ME) Please don’t tell me that you had Johnny Clark winning the 47th Oxford 250 on Sunday.

The 41-year-old from Farmingdale (ME) hadn’t won a race at Oxford Plains Speedway since 2005.

Johnny was also the guy on July 18th at OPS who finished 26th, three laps behind the winner Curtis Gerry.

But there Johnny was on Sunday night under the Victory Lane banner.

I think that it is fair to say that to win the Oxford 250 you must be lucky.  And likewise, your closest competitors must be unlucky.

Everyone in the top five had the car to win but four of the top five recalled, post-race, things that happened that cost them the top spot.

Jeff Taylor came in second

Whether it was confusion in the pits (Jeff Taylor), missing a shift on a new car (Joey Doiron), frustrations with the nine cautions (Dave Farrington Jr) or getting behind a stalled car before pit road (Mike Hopkins), all of them would have won but….

The caution on Lap 180 was the killer for both Jeff Taylor and Mike Hopkins.

Jeff (57), who has now come in second three times, went in for tires during that caution on that lap.  He left the pits and, to the surprise of everyone, came back into the pits again.

“I thought that I had gone through a stop sign leaving the pits,” said Jeff, “so I penalized myself by coming back in.  I don’t know if it was the right move or not, but that’s the one I made.  Inevitably, it cost us our chance.”

When Jeff left the pits the second time, he was now in tenth place rather than 3rd place right behind Johnny Clark.

Joey Doiron was third

Johnny would quickly take the lead from Alan Tardiff and never give up the front the rest of the way.  Jeff rallied from 10th to settle for second.  But oh did that pit-road malfunction hurt him!

“If he hadn’t done that, he’d probably be here (Victory Lane) instead of me, wouldn’t he,” said Johnny Clark during the post-race interview.

Mike Hopkins grabbed the lead in Lap 98.  “We had the car to win,” he said afterwards.  “We went from 11th to the lead and made everyone else look silly doing it.”

Mike would lose the front some thirty laps later but was still in the top five.  His chance to get tires and challenge for the top spot went south as he attempted to get onto pit road on the Lap 180 caution.

“Car 51 (John Peters) stalled going into pit road and we were behind him,” said Mike.  “By the time we got around him and got the tires we had lost probably ten spots.”

The top three finishers; Joey Doiron, Johnny Clark, and Jeff Taylor

Joey Doiron (Berwick ME) finished third despite having trouble earlier in the race.  “I had only driven this car six or seven times,” explained Joey.  “It’s a different chassis than I’m used to driving.  On Lap 100 I was running second to Jeff (Taylor) and I missed a shift and I think I cut something down trying to get out of the way.  I ended up with a flat right front tire.  Luckily, we were able to get a timely yellow and do something about a tire with only 12 pounds of air in it.  We were a lap down after that because we had lost all our track positioning.  We did come back strong at the end.”

Mike Hopkins was fifth

When I thought pre-race about who I thought should be the favorite, my choice was Dave Farrington Jr.  You talk about momentum going into a race!

“The month of August was incredible,” said Dave.  “We won four straight here (OPS).  A lot of momentum carried in here and a lot of people had high hopes for us.”

Dave had actually beaten Johnny Clark two weeks ago at OPS.

The nine cautions were the problem for Dave.

“We had more cautions in this 250 than a lot of other ones,” he said.  “I don’t know why that was.  Not enough patience.  I’m not sure.  We didn’t want cautions.  We want to go long green-flag runs and they didn’t help us there.”

There were two cautions in the final twenty-seven laps.  “I think that we would have caught Johnny if it had stayed green,” suggested Dave.

Jeff Taylor took the lead on Lap 24 (from Alan Tardiff) and had, at one point, a six-second lead over the rest of the field.

Johnny Clark

“We weren’t bad at the beginning of the race but Jeff (Taylor) was stellar,” added Johnny. “We had to go and just stay on the lead lap and let the guys in the pits do their jobs, and it’s up to you after that.  That’s exactly how it worked out.”

Johnny got right tires on Lap 91 and four tires on Lap 180.

Johnny came into 2020 not having won a race since 2016.  The restrictions of Covid-19 kept him close to home and helped turn things around.  “We worked so hard right from March,” he said.  “The fact that I was forced to slow down a ton has been huge benefit for my family and everything else.”

Disappointing that the grandstand “crowd” was limited to 200 people.  That place holds 8,000.  Don’t start me on Governor Mills (D)!

“I wish that I could have heard the roar of the crowd,” added Johnny.  “It was awesome to win.  Even better than I thought it would be.”

Saturday’s rainout turned Sunday into a morning/afternoon/evening racing event.  It was almost 8 o’clock when the 250 started.

That fact had Dave Farrington wondering about being better prepared.  “It’s way cooler than we’ve raced all year.  Maybe we should have practiced in temperatures like this.”

All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClelland Miscellanea).

Joey Doiron, Johnny Clark, and Jeff Taylor with trophies

Johnny with daughter Alivia (left) and Miranda (right)

With hand raised, Johnny Clark crosses the finish line

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway

Mowatt and Mowatt dominate Week 9 in Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway

Luke Mowatt (18) wins the Bandits feature for the first time

Alex Mowatt (current Bandits points leader) finished second

Jeff Libby gets an elusive win

(Oxford ME) Racing was back.

At least the way I remember it.

The pits were crowded, and race cars were in places unused until today.

The parking lot was transformed into a campground.  Fires were burning and, I suspect, stories of previous races were being shared.

Races were won and for the first time since June 27th you could hear the winner’s support system erupt in cheers.

But all this was tempered by a look across the infield to the grandstand.

There the policies of Governor Mills (D) were on display.  In an area ready and willing to hold thousands, there were several hundred spectators.

Infield dust kicked up in the heat race

The Oxford 250 is scheduled for Sunday (August 30th).  In the past, the noise of the cars warrants some sort of hearing protection.

The crowds make plenty of noise too. But not this year.

The race will end, and the primary excitement will come from the driver and his close associates.

But I digress!

This is a story about last night’s Bandit’s racing.

It was exciting.

Let me tell you why.

Chris Foster (71) gets turned in the feature

There were folks in the pit grandstand, and they came to root for specific drivers.

There were more cars in the race than usual.  I counted at least twenty.  The more cars, the more action on the corners.

With eight divisions racing in the heats and a large delay while some 250 drivers got some practice, the start of the feature was delayed into darkness.

Without headlights and running under streetlights, the visibility was limited.  Another direct link to action on the corners.

The cautions were frequent in the Bandits 20-lap event.  Cars went into the infield.  Others went off the track high-side.

The placement in the feature is based on a rolling three-week average.  That puts those who show up every week, but haven’t been very successful, in the front.  The successful regulars face the task of getting by a collection of less-successful drivers to get where they have been ending up.  I actually like the concept because it makes every feature interesting.

But I continue to digress.

Luke Mowatt wins his heat

The surprises for the Bandits were already in place even BEFORE the race itself.

Jeff Libby got a pole start in the first heat and actually won.  I know that he has never won a feature at OPS.  I’m guessing that the winless thing might also extend to heats as well.

I have interviewed Jeff after several of his near-wins and he has never made an excuse.  He sees me coming and he says, “One of these times….”  Tonight was that time!

Jeff had points leader Alex Mowatt chasing him at the end but on this evening, Jeff held off the challenger and had, what has been, the elusive win.

The other heat winner was young Luke Mowatt.  Last week, in a heat shocker, Luke held off his older brother for the victory.  That impressed me at the time.  However, in the feature that followed, Luke could only get 6th.

But there was Luke again tonight winning a heat.

Chad Wills (52) and Jeff Libby (44) off the track in the feature

Tonight, however, was only Luke’s fourth feature race of the season, all in the last few weeks. I didn’t think he had the experience yet to be a feature contender.

“I didn’t have a car,” Luke told me afterwards as to why he hadn’t raced earlier in the season.

Tonight, Luke started on the pole in the feature and won the biggest race of his life.

“It was his time to win tonight,” explained his brother Alex post-race.

Luke had the sweet starting spot and a car that could handle the numerous restarts.

Meanwhile, Alex the points leader with three wins, started back in the pack thanks to the 3-week rolling average.  That was indeed where the action was.

Luke leads Caleb Proctor and his brother Alex in the feature

In recent weeks Alex has avoided most trouble by staying away from the inside.  Not tonight.  With 20+ cars in play, Alex went off the track early along with Chad Wills and his new car.

“I got a nice dent that I’ll have to fix,” said Alex.

But Alex stayed in the race, as did Chad, and thanks to cautions moved back in contention.

Luke, meanwhile, escaped the fender benders.

“I knew about them, but they were all behind me,“ he said.

Before too many laps were gone, Alex had recovered from his earlier mishap and was in 2nd challenging his younger sibling.  Having seen Alex for eight weeks show the ability to engineer comebacks, I was quite certain I knew what would happen next.

The Mowatt brothers with Eric Parlin spinning behind them

But I was wrong.

Luke held his own.

A caution put them side by side near the end but that didn’t matter.  On this night, Luke did not wilt.  He rode to his first feature win in only his 8th race.

I have four siblings and I know how competitive things can get among us, so I tried the “sibling rivalry” angle with the Mowatt brothers but they wouldn’t take the bait.

“You weren’t just letting your brother go, were you?” I asked.

“No, I was actually trying to catch him,” Alex laughed. “With all that went on I was fortunate to be there to get second.

“I’m happy for Luke,” said Alex.

Caleb Proctor ended third in the car that Chad Wills borrowed (for a win) on August 15th.

Track dispute in the feature

Tempers reached an elevated status after one of the multi-car spinouts.  OPS security made sure that things didn’t get worse in the pits.

The weather turned cool as the evening wore on.

One of the most dangerous places you’ll ever be in would be the pits at night.  The cars, coming and going, have no lights and there are no overhead lights in the pits.  It truly can be “look, listen, and run for your life” in that area!

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClelland Miscellanea).

Luke Mowatt, Alex Mowatt, Caleb Proctor, and Chris Foster in the last lap of the feature

Luke Mowatt in front followed by his brother in the feature

Cars in the infield in the feature

Spin off the back in the feature

Brady Heath (91) and Luke Mowatt (22x) in front on a restart

Travis Verrill in the infield in the feature

Brady Heath between races

Doug Churchill (07) spinning in first heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway

Chloe Kiley wins 4th straight Ladies Division feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chloe Kiley gets the checkered flag and her 4th straight Ladies Division victory

Chloe Kiley

Betty Nelson

(Oxford ME) You don’t have to look very hard to find the weekly winner in the Ladies Division at Oxford Plains Speedway.

It’s going to be either Betty Nelson or Chloe Kiley.

At least that’s the way it has been through nine features this season.

Betty dominated July with three wins.

Since then?  It’s been all Chloe.

Tonight, was Chloe’s fourth straight victory in August at OPS.

“It’s been nice,” said Chloe about the consecutive wins.  “The car wasn’t so good today in practice but felt great in the race.  The rain really loosened the rubber up.”

The start of the feature with Betty Nelson (8) on the pole

Betty started on the pole in both the heat and the feature.  Chloe was in the second row in both races.

Betty lost the inside lane in both races and Chloe took advantage and went on to win.

“It was all about learning for me tonight,” explained Betty afterwards.  “We didn’t race last week, and we have a new motor.  This car has more power, so cornering was an adjustment. I need to get better getting into corners and off corners.”

In the feature, Betty held the lead into the sixth lap with Chloe close behind looking for an opening. On a corner in Lap Six the opening presented itself.

“I think she (Betty) got a little loose and went up and I had enough to fill the hole and took it from there,” said Chloe about getting the lead for good.

Chloe Kiley (16) gets inside of Betty Nelson (8) in the heat race

“She (Chloe) got by me because of my error,” recalled Betty.  “I went up a little bit on the corner and it was all her lane.  She took it.  She’s a good driver.”

Chloe was able to expand her lead over the final fourteen laps.

In the closing laps, Addie McDaniels was able to get by Kasie Kolbe to reach third.  At the end, Addie was pressuring Betty for second place.

I asked Chloe about winning four straight times: “I have a great car.  I’d like to thank my dad, Johnny, and Michael Haynes for lending me this motor and everyone who helps out back.”

It will be interesting to see how Chloe and Betty match up in the races ahead as Betty gets more familiar with the new car.  “We’re hoping over the next few weeks to get it all dialed in,” added Betty.

Chloe Kiley gains separation in the feature

Chloe has annually made steady progress in the points section of the Ladies Division and is the current leader.  She was 4th in 2017.  Tied for 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in 2019.  “I don’t really know how I’m different from 2017 which was my first year of driving,” said Chloe.  “I have had a lot more seat time since then.  Larry Emerson has been very helpful in teaching me how to drive this track.”

A little bit of rain before the races but dry once it started.

The Bandits weren’t scheduled for tonight so that gave me a chance to cover the Ladies Division.  Bandits are scheduled to race on Friday with the 250 two days later.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Start of the feature

Heat battle for 3rd place

Betty Nelson (8) holds off Addie McDaniels (68) for second place

Chloe Kiley takes the lead from Betty Nelson in the feature

Chloe Kiley presses Betty Nelson

Betty Nelson led some early laps in the feature

Between races

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills catches a break and wins 2nd Bandits race at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills wins the Bandits feature with Jeff Libby second at OPS

Chad Wills takes a victory lap after winning for the second time at OPS this season

(Oxford ME) Over a year ago in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway, Caleb Proctor won his only race of the season while driving the 04.

Tonight, Caleb’s 04 earned another checkered flag.  This time, however, the driver was Chad Wills.

“I’ve really got to thank Caleb,” said Chad post-race.  “I wrecked my car two weeks ago and he let me use his.”.

Chad has gotten a third and now a first in Caleb’s car.  Caleb will probably be the driver the next time the 04 appears at OPS.

There will be nearly two weeks off before the next Bandits race.  “I bought another car yesterday,” explained Chad, “like the hatchback that I wrecked.  Hopefully, in a couple of weeks I’ll be here with it.”

Chad Wills and Jeff Libby get inside Eric Parlin (3) in the last lap

Chad got his first win on July 25th when he took full advantage of a multi-car crash to move into contention.  Tonight, it wasn’t a crash. This time it was leader Eric Parlin slipping away from the bottom of the track near the end of Lap 18.

“Eric got loose in the last lap,” said Chad, “and I happened to be close enough to capitalize on it.”

Chad moved inside of Eric and Jeff Libby followed as Eric tried to recover.  Chris Foster also got to the bottom of the track.

“I could have forced my way back down there,” said Eric Parlin afterwards, “but cars might have been wrecked and I couldn’t do that.”

Eric ended the race settling for a tough fourth behind Chad, Jeff, and Chris.

Eric Parlin gets ahead of Brady Heath (91)

At the outset of the 20-lap feature, Eric took the lead from Brady Heath in the second lap.  Chad followed with Alex Mowatt running third.

Alex is not only the points leader but has won two straight weeks.  It was easy to expect him to get the lead sooner or later.  But not tonight.  In fact, his brother Luke, beat him in the second Bandits heat race.

Alex spent most of the evening racing on the upper levels of the track.  “Alex worked hard on the outside, but it heated his tires,” said Chad.  “It was impressive that he could hang out there as long as he did.”

Alex Mowatt (11) persisted in trying to pass Eric Parlin using the upper part of the track

Alex threatened leader Eric Parlin from the outside on several of the later laps.  When Eric slide up from the bottom in Lap 18, Alex got caught behind him and ended up finishing fifth.

Chad realized his good fortune.  “For the second time this year I was in the right spot at the right time.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky rather than good.”

Jeff Libby continues to chase that elusive first win.  He has finished second three different times, including tonight.

Jeff was behind Chad Wills when the bottom of the track opened up on Lap 18.  “We followed Chad and that’s how we ended up where we did,” said Jeff.

Luke Mowatt won the second heat defeating his brother Alex in the process.

Chad Wills won the first heat and Luke Mowatt won the second heat.

Eric Parlin’s car threw off plenty of smoke last week.  No sign of any smoke this week.

Eric had a pretty good hold on first until a spinout (Brady Heath) in Lap 11 forced a caution and a restart.  The restart bunched everyone up.

The good weather continues.  This is the 8th week I’ve been at OPS and it’s been nothing but sunshine.

Limited number of spectators on the other side of the track.

I am on twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Caleb Proctor Chad Wills, Brandon Caston

Jeff Libby (2nd)

Last lap action

Alex Mowatt tries to get by Eric Parlin on the high side

Eric Parlin comfortably in front in the feature

Brady Heath has the early lead in the feature

Chad Wills and Brady Heath set up in front for the Bandits feature

Luke Mowatt

Luke Mowatt on the inside and Alex Mowatt on the outside in Heat 2

Chad Wills and Josh Lovell in front in Heat 1

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt wins third Bandits Division feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt (11) gets the lead in the Bandits Division feature

Alex Mowatt – 3-time winner

(Oxford ME) The three-week rolling average used in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway handicaps the successful.

If you win you find yourself at the back at the start of the next race.

The possibility for frustration is obvious.

But it’s been anything but frustrating for highly successful Alex Mowatt.

Alex has shown the driving skills needed to work from the back to the front week after week.

Tonight’s win was his third of the season and his second in a row.

Alex Mowatt came from dead last to win last week’s Bandits Division feature. Tonight, he started in tenth position.

Eric Parlin finished second

“Alex is a good kid,” said 2nd place finisher Eric Parlin post-race.  “He’s having a heckuva season.  I feel like he’s a shoo-in for the championship.”

Hard to argue.  Alex has been consistently competitive with three 3rds, one 2nd, and three 1sts.

“I couldn’t ask for a better season,” admitted Alex.  “I’ve had pretty good luck.  Last week we had some damage but nothing serious.”

The attention getter in tonight’s twenty-lap feature was the smoke from Eric Parlin’s car.

Eric started the feature in the front and when smoke started pouring out of his car you figured his night would be over at any moment.

“I thought Eric’s car was blowing up or something,” recalled Alex. “I wasn’t sure what was going on, but he came out of it.”

Plenty of smoke out of Eric Parlin’s car

The smoke, at one point, caused a caution.  “They were going to black flag me,” explained Eric, “but I wasn’t losing oil.  I had raced at Beech Ridge this morning and the car did the same thing there.  For some reason going from second into third sends a lot through it.  Once I get settled down into 3rd gear it snaps out of it.”

The caution over Eric’s car in Lap 8 looked to give Alex the lead but after realizing there was no oil issues, Eric began the restart on the pole.

Alex started on the outside in the restart but quickly took the lead from Eric, and never trailed thereafter.

There was a third caution in Lap 13.  This time Alex had the pole and pulled away quickly.

Alex Mowatt (11), Eric Parlin (3), Dustin Salley (22)

The battle for second was a good one.  It featured Eric with his smoking car, Chad Wills in Caleb Proctor’s car, and former Bandit champion Dustin Salley in the car that David Cook drove last week.  Plenty of tight action there with Eric holding onto second and Chad taking third.

“It was one of my better races,” said Eric of his 2nd place finish.  “There have been a lot of ups and downs.  I had an incident a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t know if I was going to make it up here tonight.”

Alex won one of the Bandits heats while Josh Lovell took the other heat in his best showing of the season.  Josh started his heat in the front and refused to give way to Chad Wills and Chris Foster.

Alex Mowatt (11) with the lead in the feature

One of the keys for Alex in my opinion has been his ability to avoid wrecks in the seven races to date.  “I’ve stayed out of wrecks so far by watching ahead,” explained Alex.  “I don’t just watch the car right in front of me because a problem ahead will come too quick.”

Eric raced twice today.  “It definitely helps me as a driver because I had a race under my belt.  I felt comfortable in the car today.  From week to week you don’t usually sit in it or run in it.  Then you’ll get back in it on Saturday and it’s a whole different animal.”

Alex talked about the end of the race: “The car was getting a little tight down toward the end.  I used up my tired pretty good.”

Asked about plans to move up a division, Alex answered, “I’m not sure yet.  We’ll see how the year goes.”

The number of spectators is still restricted.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Alex Mowatt (11) becomes the leader

Alex Mowatt (11) is ninth early in the 20-lap feature

Early in the feature Eric Parlin leads

In Heat 1, Josh Lovell holds off Chad Wills (04) and Chris Foster

In Heat 2, Alex Mowatt outside of Travis Verrill

Street stock damage

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway