OXFORD — It’s easy to understand why the entry-level Bandit division has the highest weekly car count in Oxford Plains Speedway’s Championship Series program.

The cars are relatively affordable to build and maintain, and the competition level allows drivers to learn while still giving fans a good show. That healthy car count can also make it a challenge to earn a good finish every time out.

For 32-year-old Oxford native Charlie Hall, a truck driver for Auburn Concrete during the week, the Bandit class is nothing but pure fun. Hall has been improving his performance by leaps and bounds in 2017.

In his first eight starts, he’s earned a win, five top fives, eight top 10s and is leading the points.

“There are five key guys who are responsible for the strong start I’ve had thus far,” Hall said. “Mike Whittier, David Whittier, Brian Whittier, Kyle Hewins and Shaun Hinkley have all stepped up to help me big-time this year. Those guys have all the knowledge; we built the car together.

“We hit on some things this spring, and have done some fine-tuning to keep the car consistent. It’s working out pretty well. I’ve learned the art of patience, which is so very key in getting a good finish.”

With so many cars around him in relatively short 25-lap features, Hall says working through traffic without putting yourself at risk is the key to his incredible consistency.

“That traffic can be a real challenge some nights,” Hall added. “You have to know the guys who are around you, and realize you can’t win the race on the first lap. If you use patience and hit your marks, you’ll get through traffic cleanly. To pass, you set a guy up and do it at the right time. That is an art.”

With guys like Hinkley, Brandon Varney and impressive rookie Eric Stoddard to contend with, Hall certainly has his work cut out for him as he strives to maintain his position at the top.

“I might take a quick glance at the points from time to time, but I really don’t want to get caught up in that stuff,” Hall said. “Racing for points can be stressful, so I’ll just focus on each race and go to win.

“If we keep nailing down these top five and top-10 finishes, the points will take care of themselves.”

Hall is easily one of the most generous and genuinely appreciative drivers in Oxford’s pit area. Not only does he work endlessly on his own program, he also owns the car that second-place point runner Varney drives.

“Charlie is by far one of the nicest people at the track, and one of the nicest people I have ever known, period,” Varney said. “As an example, the night we crashed and destroyed my car earlier this season, he came down and offered me his car from last year.

“He helped us work on that thing to get it ready for the next week, and we went out and won the feature. He’s just a good person in general, a great father to his kids, and a great friend to have.”

Hall’s racing history goes back to the late 1990s, when former track owner Bill Ryan first created the Wednesday night Acceleration Series. He’s just one of many who honed their skills in that  series.

“I started out in the Runnin’ Rebels the first year of the division,” Hall explained. “It was good place to learn how to race. Even though I started as a teenager in Enduros and that kind of thing, this is really only my second year of full-time racing. In 2015, I built a car for my nephew, Jake.

“After driving in a few Enduro events in 2014, he started racing full-time in 2015. I got back into racing last year because my kids wanted to see me drive again. I had a lot of encouragement from my good friend Kyle Hewins, so I decided to go for it. This year, it’s really come together very nicely.”

Like every other weekly warrior who slaves away for the boss all week so he can race on the weekend, Hall has a tremendous network of support behind his program. From fellow racers who offer guidance to reliable crew members and marketing partners, he has amazing support for a racer at this level.

“I get a great deal of support and encouragement from a lot of good people,” he said. “Guys like Jamie Heath, who is probably the best driver out there in these type of cars, Ken Wills, Travis Verrill, Corey Sanborn, and Adam Sanborn, who is going to win one of these races very soon, are all very helpful to me.

“I also get great support from local companies like Polly’s Variety, Collectables Forever in the Auburn Mall, Davis Concrete, RKH Transport, Inc., Mrs. Brown Motorsports, Jeff’s Bait & Tackle in Oxford, TJ Detailing, and S & J Auto Recycling. I couldn’t do this without help from such wonderful sponsors.”

While he sits in this semi-comfortable position atop the standings (a 28-point cushion over Varney after eight races), Hall says he knows it won’t be a cakewalk to seal the deal. He does, however, have a plan.

“I will admit that winning the championship is the ultimate goal. But if I don’t, it sure won’t ruin my day,” Hall said. “If we can just keep this kind of consistency going, maybe pick up another win or two, I think we’ll have a legitimate shot at it. Either way, when this season is over, I’ll look back on it with a big smile.”

[email protected]

Charlie Hall
Oxford native Charlie Hall drives off Turn 4 at Oxford Plains Speedway earlier this season. Hall currently leads the point standings in the entry-level Bandit class and has one feature victory to his credit in 2017. 

Comments are not available on this story.