OXFORD — As Kenny Wallace pulled in to Oxford Plains Speedway early Sunday morning, he came across a familiar sight.

“You could see everybody sleeping in these nasty tents and they haven’t showered,” said Wallace, who flew in from St. Louis early Sunday morning following a Nationwide Series event. “They’ve just been partying their ass off.”

One thing Wallace recalls from his previous experiences at what is now the T. D. Banknorth 250 is that the event is just one large community event that just happens to include a car race.

“It’s like a Grateful Dead concert or a Jimmy Buffett concert, ” said Wallace. “You come for the 250 and oh by the way, they’re going to run a race later on.”

Kenny was among a trio of Wallace family members at the 250 on Sunday. Rusty was the grand marshall while his son, Steve, was also racing. Kenny told Rusty early this morning that he had the luxury of not arriving until afternoon while he and Steve had to be at the track bright and early for practice sessions.

“We work for a living,” joked Wallace. “Rusty’s earned it. He’s a champion, but I’d rather race. I’m a vagabond, and I’m always on the road.”

Wallace had his work cut out for him. He struggled to move up in his heat races and narrowly avoided a wreck here or there. He finally settled for a provisional, starting 42nd, one spot ahead of his nephew. He remained in the middle of the pack for most of the race before bowing out late. He finished 33rd.

“We’re definitely not as fast as some of the other guys, but we were right there,” said Kenny, who stayed in the middle of the pack for most of the race before driving off late in the race and never returning.

Wallace arrived at the track just before 9 a.m for a practice session. He pulled in and almost immediately hopped into his car. A ride was provided to him by Brackett Motorsports of Jay. It was quick trip down memory lane.

“It’s still the exact same race track,” Wallace said. “It still has the exact same curve around it. It’s Oxford, the legendary 250.”

The 45-year old raced in three straight 250s in the early 1990s when it was part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He finished 20th, eighth and 34th.

“I was here in 1992 — my last time,” Wallace said. “It’s so funny to be gone from somewhere, and I’m like, ‘My God, has it been that long?'”

Returning to his roots was one of the reasons that had Wallace exited when the chance for the three family members appearing together presented itself.

“These are the cars I grew up in,” Wallace said. “I’ve got a good team, and they’ve made me feel comfortable. I feel we’re as good as we can be with minimal practice.

The car Wallace drove was one of Ricky Rolfe’s spares. Rolfe had tested it a few times prior to Sunday’s race, but it took a little adjusting for Wallace to reacquaint himself with the track.

“The biggest thing about the race track is it’s a circle, it’s not an oval,” said Wallace. “It’s a complete circle. The biggest thing I had to pick up on right away is that it’s a big momentum track. You don’t go down a straightaway, put on the brakes and turn around and come back. It’s just a big circle, and you have to get your rhythm right.”

He got a ample time during morning practice sessions to find a comfort level. He had to spend time adjusting his head brace and getting his seat secure and comfortable.

“I just had to learn to get my momentum and learn where the places are on the track to pass,” he said. “When you get on the track, what you’ve got to learn is where you need to be and where you can pass. You need to get the car handling.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.