OXFORD – The trials and triumphs of the Hewins family confirm two unchanging truths about stock car racing.

One, it’s a shared experience that now spans multiple generations across the country.

And two, it’s a fickle first love.

Kurt Hewins endured a rare summer in 2009 without winning a race, or even competing much, at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Now he’s suddenly the hottest thing with four tires and an engine, rattling off an unlikely streak of five consecutive feature wins in Oxford’s intermediate Strictly Stock division.

“Brown’s Construction owns the car,” Hewins said. “They pay for everything. They make sure we’ve got something to eat and drink. It’s pretty good.”

Last year, Kurt left a bulk of the driving — and the winning — to brother Kyle and son Ryan.

Kyle, 22, was nearly untouchable, winning seven times en route to a championship in the Runnin’ Rebel division on Wednesday nights. Ryan, 18, a recent graduate of Leavitt Area High School, ran third in the same class, won multiple features and was rookie of the year.

The younger end of the family racing operation has discovered that it’s tough to wear the bull’s-eye on your bumper.

Three has been a magic number for Ryan. It’s both his total of wins and the number of cars he’s been forced to drive in seven weeks, thanks to mechanical issues and one notable encounter with a light fixture.

“It seems like everybody else is going faster, and we stayed the same,” Ryan said.

Tied for second in points entering Wednesday night’s race, Kyle’s season of frustration continued with a mark in the did-not-finish column.

He elected to park his ride after receiving a stop-and-go penalty when he retaliated against another driver for an early-race incident.

“It’s a good thing we have Enduros,” said Kyle, who has swept a pair of the track’s popular Motor Mayhem events. “Because other than that, I think I’ve won one trophy all year long and it was for third place. It’s been like eighth one week, fourth the next, six the next. It’s been a struggle.”

No matter how you slice the wins, the points or the trophies, the Hewins clan continues to strengthen its status as one of local racing’s most enduring families.

Ryan, who only took up the sport in the go-kart division four years ago, has more than 50 top-three finishes to his credit in karts and four-cylinder cars.

Both young men have been competing on the big track since they turned 16 and met the minimum age requirements.

“It used to make us so mad to get here at 3 o’clock and drop my dad (Larry) and Kurt off, but we couldn’t go in because we weren’t old enough,” Kyle said. “We still loved it, though. We couldn’t wait to get over to the other side and watch practice.”

Larry started the family tradition back in the 1980s, winning one of the final championships in the old Figure Eight class.

Kurt hit the accelerator shortly after and has made his mark in every Saturday night division the track has offered. He captured the Limited Sportsman title in 2000.

“Our dad still has a (Runnin’ Rebel) car almost all ready back home,” said Kyle. “I don’t think he’s really planning to drive it. It’s mostly there if Ryan or I wreck another one.”

The family racing operation is growing and changing. Kyle and his girlfriend, Monica Martin, are expecting a child in a few weeks. He is considering a part-time schedule in 2011.

“And it looks like I’m going to be racing with him next year,” said Ryan, pointing to his father and divulging plans for a second Strictly Stock car in the fold.

Kyle and his nephew raced as rivals for a championship in ’09 without swapping a significant amount of paint.

“We can be bumper-to-bumper or side-by-side for 10 laps at a time,” Kyle said. “We know our limits.”

“I raced with him just about every week,” Ryan added. “He was usually on the outside because he was faster.”

Long considered one of the speedway’s hard-nosed competitors, Kurt shrugged when asked if he ever dreamed he’d become the elder statesman of the family’s racing operation.

He also said that his advice to the pair is minimal.

“They don’t listen, anyway,” Kurt said with a smile. “That’s kind of how racing is. You have to do your own thing and learn from your own mistakes.”

Few and far between as they may be.

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Editor’s note: Kurt Hewins car is co-owned by Eric Brown of Brown’s Construction and Scott Brewer of the Wolf Den.

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