AUBURN — When the odds are stacked heavily against a goal we’re trying to achieve, it can be easy to just throw in the towel and say, “enough is enough.”

Yet when Auburn native Kyle Treadwell was dreaming about qualifying for the famed Oxford 250 as a rookie in the track’s Pro Late Model division, he wasn’t about to let a few obstacles upset his journey.

“I got a call from my car owner about two or three weeks ago, and he had some bad news,” Treadwell said in his shop as he cleaned up chunks of rubber he had removed from under his car. “He had made a bad business investment, and was being forced to sell the race car. I told my dad not to worry about it, we’ll sell the car for him and move on.”

Joe Treadwell Jr. wasn’t about to let his son’s dream slip away. He knew he had to act, and somehow he managed to keep the dream alive.

“My Dad looked at me and said he knew it was my dream, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to qualify for the Oxford 250,” Kyle Treadwell said. “So he bought the car, and we were lucky enough to get a spot through another driver’s disqualification. I would have rather earned my way in with a heat win, but at least we got in.”

As any team that has competed in the 250 knows, it takes significant funding to attempt a run in Maine’s longest race. Obtaining a competitive car is one thing, buying stacks of tires and all the other equipment you’ll need is something else.

“About 10 days before the 250, when the manager at Poland Spring Bottling, our primary sponsor, found out we were hesitant to commit to that event, he stepped up and offered the funds for us to be competitive,” Treadwell said. “I can’t thank them enough; we never could have done it without their support.”

Treadwell has had a speedy climb up the ladder of local short track racing. This is only his fifth season behind the wheel, and already he’s getting a handle on the track’s fastest machines.

“I started out in 2010 running the Rebel (four-cylinder) class, like a lot of other guys doing well today,” Treadwell said. “I won two features, and earned Rookie of the Year honors. I only ran part-time in 2011 while I was working with Ryan Hewins on his Strictly Stock effort. I drove maybe eight or nine races and wasn’t really sure if I wanted to continue.”

It didn’t take a ton of pursuasion to convince the young driver to stick it out. Someone close to him recognized his ability and made the decision a bit easier.

“My father told me he thought I had the ability, so he surprised me and bought an Outlaw car. I had never paid much attention to that division or watched their races, but I jumped in that car to see what I could do,” Treadwell said. “I became good friends with Matt Dufault, who helped me win Rookie of the Year in 2012. I picked up two wins again that year, the first of which came in my third race.”

By last year, he had matured a great deal as a driver and had more lofty goals on the team’s agenda.

“We made a strong run for the Outlaw championship last year, but came up a little short,” Treadwell said. “Kyle Hewins ended up winning it, and I finished third behind Troy Jordan. I was running for both the Outlaw (Wednesday) and Outlaw Sportsman (Saturday) titles at the same time. But Corey Morgan went on a tear, and nobody had anything for him.”

Treadwell’s plans for 2014 never actually included a Pro Late Model, much less a run for top rookie or a spot in the Oxford 250. Yet sometimes when opportunity knocks on one’s door, it pays to listen.

“We sold our Outlaw car last October and bought a rolling chassis for the Street Stock class,” Treadwell said. “I painted the car back in March, but the very next day, Nick Clark called me and said he wanted to go Pro Late Model racing. We went down to Rhode Island and got his car, brought it back up here and took it directly to Jeff Taylor at Distance Racing.”

While his 2003 chassis was in the shop of nine-time Oxford champion Taylor, it got a little TLC to help bring its performance up to speed. Running against new cars with state-of-the-art front-end geometry and the latest suspension technology, a driver needs every little advantage he can afford.

“I had a specific budget I needed to stay within with updates to the car, and Jeff brought it a long way within that figure,” Treadwell said. “I sure appreciate his work to make the car more competitive. It started out as an old ACT-style Late Model, but has been adapted to handle Penske coil-overs (more advanced shocks) and has a few other improvements. I’m thrilled that we have our own car now, and Jeff’s experience to lean on.”

Joe Treadwell Jr. may seem comfortable in his role as car owner, yet he spent a number of years behind the wheel as a driver. 

“He started racing when he was 17, and just retired about 10 years ago,” the younger Treadwell said with pride in his eyes. “He’s done so much for my racing program, I can’t possibly thank him enough. I’m going to give it my best effort to win top rookie honors by season’s end. It would make me proud to see his smile.” 

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