Sun Journal file photo from the 2014 Show Shine & Drag event at the Oxford Dragway. (SUN JOURNAL FILE PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Late in 2018, Oxford Plains Dragway announced that it wouldn’t be reopening in 2019, but then the New Year came and plans changed.

So did the track’s leadership.

Les Williams, who owns a performance shop in Limerick and lives in Saco, announced on Facebook on Jan. 1 that he was taking over the track. He confirmed as much to the Sun Journal.

“The actual track, (the owners) leased it out to me, and we created an LLC for the track, and we’re changing up the name,” Williams said.

The property is owned by Tom and Mike Mayberry, who also own the adjoining Oxford Plains Speedway. The track was formerly leased by Jeff Shock of West Paris.

Williams said the track will take on the name “New Oxford Dragway.”

Despite the “new” name, the track will will be celebrating some history in 2019. The dragway opened in 1969, and Williams said he’s hoping its 50th anniversary “could be a real good (year).”

A self-described “car enthusiast,” Williams used to race at the dragway, and he started going to the track as a fan more than 20 years ago. He didn’t want to see the track that he’s spent more than half of his life at — he’s 36 years old — close.

“They were at the point last year where they were done, and they closed the track down due to maintenance, and other issues. Pretty much, they closed it down,” Williams said. “So I ended up trying to get in touch with them, and I ended up getting in touch with them through Andy Cusack of Beech Ridge (Motor Speedway in Scarborough), and they were able to sit down with me, and we had a few talks. And they decided it would be a good idea to have me take over the lease and step up. I’ve got a lot of people that have reached out to offer to help, and we got some paving maintenance scheduled, and we have some upgrades and repairs scheduled for around the track.”

Williams noted the deteriorating track surface was a reason that many racers left, and he’s making it a top priority in its reopening.

“There was a lot of maintenance that needed to be done at the end of the track, where high-horsepower cars were starting to exceed 130 miles an hour … they were trying to stop sideways. Snowmobiles were getting wrecked due to some of the potholes and some of the heaves in the track, and some craters and stuff here and there,” Williams said. “I’m thinking that just changing that up, and working on getting everything to hook like it should, and people to understand that — I think’s going to help a lot.”

But there’s more than just a new surface that comes with reopening the facility. Williams said he’s “going to listen to the racers,” and try “to make everybody, in every class, feel welcome.”

He also wants to “reorganize” the schedule of events each week, with Fridays being race day. There also might be some Saturday events as well.

Williams said he and the Mayberrys are looking to bring back the Show, Shine & Drag event that the two tracks used to host.

“We really want Show, Shine & Drag to be as big as it once was,” said Williams, who added that there is no set date for the event yet.

There also isn’t a set date for the upcoming season. Repairs will start as soon as the snow melts, and Williams is also looking to upgrade the facility’s timing system, which will take time to learn.

Williams is hoping to “open up shop” in early April, and open the track for the new season in late April or May. The season will hopefully run into September, according to Williams.

The track’s new leader said he is “pretty confident” he can turn the facility’s fortunes around, and he said it’s “absolutely” a dream come true.

“I’ve been of fan of automobiles since I was … 3 years old, I was behind the driver’s seat of my mother’s car, and I wrecked it into the side of the house, and I was hooked by then,” Williams said.

[email protected]

filed under: