It started out as a 200-lap battle back in 1974, expanded to 250 in 1975 and in the years since, has grown into one of the biggest short track stock car racing spectacles east of the Mississippi River.

Sunday, the famed TD Bank 250 celebrates 40 years of competition at Oxford Plains Speedway. After being contested in Late Model cars since 2007, the event returns to Super Late Models this year after Naples resident Tom Mayberry purchased the track in October.

Mayberry also operates the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) sanctioning body, featuring Super Late Models as the top touring division. He started PASS in 2001 and it has grown to encompass the southeast (PASS South) and northwestern U.S. (PASS Northwest) as SLM teams around the nation come on board.

Known as the fastest full-bodied stock cars around, Super Late Models bring the event back to a premier class. A buzz is building among western and central Maine fans as race day arrives, with a number of familiar marquee names once again filing entries.

There won’t be any high-profile NASCAR drivers competing this year, as there has been in recent seasons. Mayberry is letting this mid-summer classic stand on its own merit, and he’s hoping the fans will appreciate it for what it is. It’s a chance for the region’s top oval racers to reach for the stars — and a big paycheck.

For this 40th annual battle, well-known drivers like three-time winner Mike Rowe, his son and two-time 250 winner Ben Rowe, defending PASS North champion Travis Benjamin, second-generation New Hampshire star DJ Shaw, Cassius Clark and Joey Doiron will chase the coveted trophy.


Drivers from Oxford’s new-for-2013 Pro Late Model division are also expected to be in the mix. Two-time Oxford Late Model champion Shawn Martin is one of the “Friday night warriors” ready to tackle the big challenge. He’s already won a 40-lap feature in 2013, yet the 250 is a different animal.

“We have a decent car, we just need a little luck to go with it,” Martin said after finishing third in last Friday night’s PASS 150. “I hope the track doesn’t change much as the weekend unfolds. With all the rubber being laid down by different divisions, we’ll need to stay on top of our chassis setups.”

Clark won the PASS North season opener at Oxford on April 21, and notched his second victory on July 6 at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Driving for the well-heeled Hight Motorsports team, the second generation driver (his father Billy was very successful) from Farmington is poised to win again at Oxford.

With great skills, top-notch equipment and a seasoned crew, his outlook is positive. Among his arsenal is crew chief Brian Burgess, who has won the 250 twice (with Ben Rowe) and has a reputation for excellence in chassis setups.

“I’m thrilled to have the 250 back as the premier race for Super Late Models,” Clark said. “These are the cars I love to race, and our car has been solid this season. We learned a lot in last Friday night’s 150, so I think we should be in pretty good shape Sunday. I’m excited and anxious to strap in and race.”

Doiron has been solid in every PASS North show this season. The young driver from Berwick finished second at Oxford in April and currently leads the point standings over Clark. He has three runner-up finishes and a fourth place run to his credit in a season plagued by rain.

“At first, I looked at this as just another big race for PASS cars,” Doiron said. “But now, I realize how huge this is for all of us and what it would mean to win. Our entire team is excited, especially after we drove up to third place after starting 23rd last Friday night. Sure, we got shuffled out late and finished fifth, but our car is solid and I feel like we’ve got as good a chance as any team to win it tonight.”

Qualifying races begin at 2 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies are set for 5:30 p.m., with the green flag expected to wave at approximately 6:30 p.m.

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