It’s a time and a social climate in which school teachers, administrators and communities have never been forced to exercise more creativity in their quest to reach and teach students.

With their brainstorm two years ago, Oxford Hills Middle School principal Troy Eastman and Crazy Horse Racing owner Mitch Green put themselves at the front of the pack.

Through a program called “Aspire Higher,” Green has supervised a weekly project in which a rotating group of four students painstakingly put together a super late model stock car from scratch.

The end result is being unveiled this weekend. Not in an exhibit at your local shopping center or town garage, but at one of America’s richest and most enduring short track races.

Veteran driver Sam Sessions will end a seven-year retirement from racing and pilot the kids’ creation Sunday in the 40th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“There was talk at one time about trying to get a (NASCAR) driver to come and drive the car, but you know what? This is a community project,” Green said in a news release. “Community taxpayers and grants are funding this. Let’s get a driver that can represent the car and the community and has some infrastructure of their own, too. I had Sammy Sessions in the back of my head right from the get-go.”


Eastman had Green in his mind from the conception of the program, as well. Green taught in the Oxford Hills district for 20 years before entering the racing business full time.

The middle school students — two dozen in all — reported for work at Green’s shop in South Paris every Thursday afternoon. Others supplemented their education by researching sponsorship and financial details.

Sessions knew of the project from the beginning, when an Oxford Hills parent called to gauge his interest. Although the driver fully supported the idea, he recommended Green.

“You’ve got to go to somebody like Mitch,” Sessions said. “You might get something put together with me or somebody else, but you are not going to go to the Oxford 250 with home-built car with people who haven’t been around it for a while and be competitive. You need to have someone who’s been in the game.”

Eastman, a racing enthusiast himself who has been part of the pit crew for local teams at OPS, was hoping to reach students who weren’t completely engaged in a traditional classroom.

From his own experience, Green understood the battle.


“In my 20 years, I taught some kids that were hardcore kids, but they were great kids. They just weren’t chalk-and-talk-setting kids,” Green said. “The thing I enjoy about this, the race car was a tool to use to help these kids learn, to help keep them up in school, to help keep their behavior up. That’s the stuff that’s important to me.”

Sessions has raced since the late 1970s and has a long, proud history in big-money races. He was the original Pro All Stars Series champion in 2000. Three years later, he won $100,000 — the largest share in Maine racing history — by taking the checkered flag in the Big Dawg 400 at Wiscasset Raceway.

He gradually backed away from the sport after that win. In his most recent race, Sessions finished third in the 2006 TD Bank 25o. That was the year that all three leaders — Jeremie Whorff, his father Bill Whorff Jr., and Sessions — all had some combination of zeroes for a car number.

In keeping with tradition, Sessions will be ‘0’ followed by the smaller block letters ‘HMS,’ representing the car builders and owners.

“I make no bones about it — and I’ve told Mitch this right from the beginning — I have no interest in just being there to show a car,” Sessions said. “I raced for years out of my own shop with my own guys, and we were pretty successful with a low-budget team. I have no interest in going down there just to make an appearance. We’re there to try and win the race.”

Oxford Hills will keep the car when the weekend is over. It is likely to be disassembled and rebuilt by a new group of students in the fall.


“It’s absolutely a unique thing that’s happened in New England,” Green said. “As far as I know, no other school out there has done something like this.”

Choice to make

When Tom Mayberry’s purchase of OPS in October 2012 ensured the return of super late model cars to the 250, American-Canadian Tour president Tom Curley immediately countered with his own showcase late model event. The International 500, named for the number of total main-event laps, is scheduled for Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y. 

While the distance between the two facilities is unlikely to take too many fans away from Oxford, the dual scheduling does require a few drivers with a foot in each pool to make a choice.

Dave Farrington Jr. of Jay won a race at Wiscasset Raceway earlier this season in an ACT-legal car and led a 100-lap event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough with his PASS ride. The 21-year-old chose Oxford from the beginning.

“We’ve had more top-10s in the PASS car than most of the guys in their top 10, even though we’re not running for points,” said Farrington, who finished sixth in the late model version of the 250 a year ago. “We were eighth in the last race at Beech Ridge and 10th at Oxford, so we’re right there.”


Other traditional 250 threats expected to enter the ACT race include 2012 TD Bank 250 champion Joey Polewarczyk Jr., two-time winner Eddie MacDonald and Quebec’s Patrick Laperle.

Two notable competitors with late model and super late model affiliation — two-time 250 winner Ben Rowe and two-time OPS champion Shawn Martin, both from Turner — committed early to Oxford.

“The other cars, to me, everybody’s just single file, riding around. Everybody pits the same and you come out the same. This is going to bring the race back to me, you, sitting in the grandstands as spectators,” Rowe said. “You’re going to have guys coming from the rear because they put tires on. You’re going to have your live pit stops back. I’m just another fan, basically.”

Hot laps

— There’s no NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the 250 field this year, but Austin Theriault of Fort Kent will compete against one he knows very well before making the trip to Oxford. Theriault, the third-place finisher at OPS each of the past two summers, will drive his Brad Keselowski Racing car against his boss at the IWK 250 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on Saturday night. Then he’ll fly to Maine and race his family-owned car in the second half of his weekend marathon.

• As of noon Friday, 55 drivers were listed as paid pre-entries. They represent Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington (state), New Brunswick and Quebec.

• The most recent 250 champion entered is 2006 winner Jeremie Whorff of West Bath. If past procedures hold, he would be entitled to a provisional starting spot.

• Scott Robbins of Dixfield, the 2002 winner, is entered for the first time in four years.

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