OXFORD – It wasn’t only a natural decision, but also the right decision.

On the day his older brother, Perley, died following a stroke in July, Guy Childs Sr. wondered what he should do. His weekly races at Oxford Plains Speedway were that evening, but he couldn’t help but wonder if it was proper to race on such a day.

“I went out there and won the race for him,” Guy said. “That made me feel pretty good. It was pretty hard for me to race. But I just felt inside that’s what he wanted me to do. I was determined I was going to go to the front and win it.”

On the day when the Childs family had to rally around each other, Guy did what his family does best. Honoring his brother on the track was the ultimate tribute.

“I believe that Wednesday, that I won that race, he was right beside me,” said Guy.

The carburetor doesn’t fall far from this family tree. A legacy that began years ago appears to have plenty of laps left.

“There will still be a few of us out there,” said David Childs, Perley’s son. “It’s fun to watch it and see the name Childs in victory lane.”

Perley Childs was the racing patriarch. He was the first one to start racing regularly, and he laid the groundwork for a family tradition few families can equal.

“It makes you feel good to do something in his name,” said Bill Childs, Perley’s other brother. “He’s around. He’s the one that really got us all started. We’ll never forget him. He made us spend a lot of money, but we had a lot of fun.”

The Childs have 13 members of the family to have won at least one feature at OPS. Combined, the family has collected 174 wins.

Only the Rowe clan – Mike, Ben and Tom – have more, with 188.

“I don’t think there’s as big a family as ours in the whole United States that’s as victorious, said Jimmy Childs, Bill’s son, who made his Late Model debut last Saturday. “That’s pretty special.”

Perley Childs revved up the racing interest in his family with the help of his father, Perley Sr.

“My dad was always around racing,” said Guy. “My dad used to build the cars and my older brother used to race them.”

Perley Sr. made an attempt to get into racing, but quickly discovered it wasn’t for him. That’s when he passed the torch to his oldest son, Perley Jr.

“He tried it once, but going round in circles made him dizzy,” Guy said. “So he wanted my oldest brother to get into it.”

As Perley Jr. got hooked, his brothers, Bill and Guy, couldn’t help but catch the excitement.

“He liked speed, and he could do it out here without getting a ticket,” Bill said.

All three brothers were actively involved. Bill would build a car, only to have his brother Perley drive it, like it and claim it as his own. Bill would then have to build another ride.

“What else is there to do?” said Bill. “I don’t like fishing. I don’t like golfing. I can’t dance. I don’t like alcohol, and I don’t smoke. The only bad habit I have is this one.”

Perley gave up racing years ago but enjoyed the rest of the family’s involvement. His sons, Conrad, David and Mark, all race.

“He just stopped for some reason,” said David. “I don’t know if he lost interest or if it was his back. I just don’t know. I guess he was too busy with his life to stay involved. “

Though he wasn’t racing, Perley was still active in the sport and had plenty of family members to watch.

Guy says the trademark Perley had as a racer was his determination. That’s something he sees in all the other Childs drivers.

“I’m determined the same way,” Guy said. “I love watching my nephews run. They’re excellent racers. They do very well, and that determination, I can see it in them.”

Guy says he’ll keep competing until his arthritis tells him to stop. Bill is curtailing his racing to spend more time working with Jimmy. Bill just recently bought back a Late Model for his son to drive. Jimmy has raced Mini Stocks since 1996 and is about to become the first back-to-back champion at OPS in more than 30 years. Like the racing gene, Jimmy’s new machine has made its way through the family.

“I’m hoping to be the one to really make it shine,” said Jimmy. “My father drove it. My brother Billy tried it. He sold it to Mark, my cousin. He sold it to his brother Conrad, and then it came back to us.”

The second generation of Childs has been the most successful this year. In addition to Guy Sr., Mark Jr., Jimmy, David and John have all won races at OPS this year. David’s son, Josh, has also won. Guy Jr. has also been racing this year, as has Billy Jr., who tried to qualify for the T.D. Banknorth 250 and recently moved to Missouri.

“I guess we’re just born racers,” said Jimmy. “I watch my little cousins out there. They don’t have that good equipment, and I’m amazed at what they’re doing.”

With so many racing members of the family, they’re bound to trade paint with each other on occasion. Guy Sr. and David have had a few Wednesday night battles this year, where Guy edged out David one week and the nephew returned the favor to his uncle the following week.

“All of us want to win, but all of us can’t win,” said Guy. “Whichever one is in first place at the finish, is where it’s at and each of us is happy for the other.”

Bill, a former Mini-Stock champ himself, and Jimmy had some great races over the years. Bill won an Ironman Series in which drivers raced in three races in one night. Jimmy took second in the first race and battled him nose-to-nose in the final race.

“That was the best, we raced each other so good,” said Jimmy. “That was the most fun. Racing with my Dad, we were both so hungry for it. We’d be going and going. That was my favorite, racing with him.”

David is enjoying the kind of relationship he had with his father now that Josh is racing. Perley would often help and support David in his racing and now Josh benefits from that tradition.

“I started him out at Unity last year,” said David of his 17-year old. “He won a championship in the teen division. It’s fun watching him. That’s for sure. I have just as much fun watching him race as I do myself.”

None of them ever imagined that the racing legacy would become so fruitful in their family, but it is a history they all relish and appreciate.

“It’s pretty important to all of us,” said Guy. “It shows that we accomplished something in our life, and it was something we all wanted to do.”


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