Portland, Oregon native Chuck Bown made a big impact during his years of racing in New England.

As the original driver of Quint Boisvert’s famed “Skoal Bandit,” Bown was about as high-profile as they came in northeastern short track circles. The first time he won the 250 in 1986 took place when the race was on the NASCAR Busch Grand National schedule.

The entry list that year included icons like Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Jack Ingram and Tommy Houston. It would be a tall order to outgun veterans with those kind of credentials and resources.

“That first one with Quint’s team was very special,” Bown said. “We hoped to have an edge over the southern NASCAR teams with all of the experience we had at Oxford. Our problem was those guys brought their own tires, and the grip they provided overcame any home-track advantage.

“We pitted early for a new set of our own brand, and charged up to the front. After the southern teams ducked in for their tires later on, they blew right back by us.” Our strategy didn’t quite play out.”

On that particular July night, it took a grueling 330 total trips around Oxford’s tricky oval (with its off-camber front stretch) to complete 250 green-flag laps. The race ran very late, as 10 cautions slowed the pace. Bown took the lead from Randy Porter at lap 283 and pulled away to earn $28,950 for his efforts.

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“We were fortunate that year to get a break late in the race to pit again, and were able to retake the lead with 48 laps to go. It meant a lot to me to earn that win for Quint, Skoal, and to beat those big southern teams on our own turf.”

After moving south in 1989, Bown returned to Oxford in 1990 during the best season of his storied career. He would go on to win six races that year and claim the NASCAR Busch Series championship.

“That second win came a little easier,” Bown explained. “I was driving for Jeff Hensley’s Nescafe team and we were having a strong season. We’d already won four races and had a good setup for Oxford.

“We ended up leading 255 of the 306 laps it took to complete the race and held off Tommy Houston to pull it off. It made me happy to win a 250 for the Hensley team, and a second win in that race for anybody is quite an accomlishment. I don’t really follow the sport these days, but I know the 250 will always have a special place in my heart.”

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