The TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway has seen countless family combinations chase the glory together in its 39-year history.
Father against son? Mike and Ben Rowe and their five combined wins immediately come to mind.
Brother against brother? The list reads like a roll call of racing surname royalty. The brothers Bodine, Burton, Labonte and Wallace all shared the 3/8-mile oval in the NASCAR glory days of the event.
As for father against son and daughter, well, that’s a new one.
Anyone claiming a seat in the grandstand one week from Sunday will see something unprecedented as Vanna Brackett joins her dad Tim and older brother T.J. in pursuit of a place in the prestigious race and a 1-in-38 chance at the minimum $25,000 top prize.
“I just hope it doesn’t come down to the three of us racing to get in,” Vanna Brackett said.
Vanna, 25, is a rookie in Oxford’s Late Model division.
The Auburn woman drives for a Winthrop-based operation owned by Kevin Burgess and Gene Hatch, one that advanced with her from the intermediate Strictly Stock division to the top class this season.
“There are more cars than there were in Strictly,” she said when asked about the most significant challenges and adjustments. “The tires. Telling myself that I can drive into (the corner) harder or that I can’t.”
Brackett won two championships and 35 features in Oxford’s Ladies division before accelerating her career in 2011.
Trying to qualify for the 250 represents a quantum leap in the middle of a season focused on modest goals.
Brackett and her team have an eye on earning rookie of the year laurels while finishing every race and keeping her No. 3 car in one piece.
So far, mission accomplished. Brackett is 19th in points out of 42 drivers who have competed in the crowded late model field, making her the top first-year driver.
There have been few cosmetic or mechanical issues to speak of.
“There have been a couple of bumps here and there, but we haven’t had to pound any dents out of it and haven't ripped anything off it,” Brackett said. “It still looks pretty cool. We had a rotor break while I was racing but it wasn’t from a crash.”
Oh, and by means of comparison …
“It’s not totaled,” she added. “I haven’t had to rebuild it yet. T.J. had to rebuild his.”
The youngest Brackett nailed down her best finish to date July 4 on Oxford Casino Fireworks Night, finishing 10th in a 26-car field.
She did her part to put the whole family in the top 10. T.J. finished second. Tim, a two-time OPS champion and past top-five finisher in the 250, ran seventh.
“We started up front, held our line and made them all go around us,” she said. “When my dad got right up to my outside, I raced him like anyone else.”
The 250 poses many unique challenges.
First and foremost is the level of competition. Eighty-or-so drivers will fight for a spot in the elite field, many of them boasting years of tour racing experience.
Local knowledge and luck of the draw are known for leveling the playing field. Every driver pulls his or her starting position in the qualifying heat from a bucket full of numbered poker chips.
“Hopefully we get some luck and have a good draw and a good heat,” she said. “You just don’t know.”
Somewhat shockingly, only one woman has ever reached the main event on 250 weekend.
Karen Schulz, a driver from the now-defunct Daytona Dash Series, was put in the field at the behest of then-promoter Michael Liberty after failing to make the cut in all three rounds of qualifying in 1989. She was credited with finishing 42nd.
Aside from former NASCAR racer Patty Moise and New Hampshire’s Tracie Bellerose, few other women have even attempted the feat.
None had the history at her home track and strong family history there that Brackett does.
BAYNE'S RIDE SET
Trevor Bayne’s mode of transportation in the 250 has been announced.
The 2011 Daytona 250 champion and part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver will wheel a ride furnished by the Vermont-based team of Kendall Roberts.
Roberts previously provided the cars for Steven Wallace (2009) and Brad Keselowski (2010). John Donahue is his primary driver.
Wallace and Keselowski each finished near the middle of the pack after receiving a provisional starting spot.
But both of them flew in the morning of the race, experiencing Oxford for the first time on minimal sleep after competing in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race the previous night.
Bayne, 21, is expected to get a full day of practice on Saturday, July 21.