Matt Mahar stops for a quick victory lane photo after winning the Runnin Rebels feature at Oxford Plains Speedway on July 25. Oriana Lovell photo

 

The results show that Matt Mahar is having a great season in the Runnin’ Rebels division of Oxford Plains Speedway’s Oxford Acceleration Series.

A mixture of tireless work over the offseason and some luck sprinkled in since the season started in late June have led to an end result that has seen the Turner native win five of the six Rebels features nearing the midway point of the season.

“I am very surprised by my luck so far, it’s really been a crazy year,” Mahar said. “The car is just working the way I need it to and I’ve been very lucky with catching cautions at the right time to close the field back up to give me the chance to work the leader for the pass.”

Mahar’s luck began in a bad way during a preseason practice session, when the motor in his car — which he was set to race for the first time — blew. He luckily had another motor in a spare chassis he had bought over the winter, and the backup engine helped lead him to a win in the season opener. Some more luck came his way for the win, when the initial winner on the track was disqualified in post-race technical inspection, paving the way for Mahar to grab the victory.

He won outright the next week, then settled for third in Oxford Plains’ third week of action. He’s won three in a row since and holds a commanding lead in the point standings.

“I am still on the same engine and same oil,” Mahar said. “She’s been pretty stout and I don’t see any reason to change it. Seems to be lucky to have it hold up the way it has.”

Matt Mahar races his car at Oxford Plains Speedway on July 25. Oriana Lovell photo

Beyond any luck Mahar may be finding, the work he and his friends have put into the car before and throughout the season has also played a role in Mahar’s success.

“Key to my hot start I’d say would be the endless nights I spent in the garage with my best friend Chris Giguere building the car over the winter,” Mahar said. “Another thing that’s helped was doing the math on the car at the start of the year to figure out the right tire size and treadwear to make the car work the way I needed it to.”

Mahar also noted that fellow Oxford Plains racer Calvin Rose Jr. and his father, Calvin Sr. have helped out in the pit area during race days, giving Mahar “tire pressure ideas and checking my stagger.”

The father-son duo also helped out two weeks ago when a win for Mahar was suddenly in doubt.

“Week before this past race I actually ran out of gas on lap 4 and coasted into the pits, somehow catching a caution at the same time. Calvin, his father and Jamie Leavitt rushed to see what I needed and got some gas in the car while the caution was out, and because of that I actually got out at the end of the field and came back to take the lead on lap 18 and win the race,” Mahar said.

“Everyone has been really supportive and helpful, though it helps to run everyone clean and have no enemies on the track,” Mahar added.

Matt Mahar takes the inside lane during Runnin Rebels action at Oxford Plains Speedway on Aug. 1. Oriana Lovell photo

If it seems like almost everyone in the pits is like family to Mahar, it’s because racing is a family affair for him. He grew up watching his father Conrad Childs race, in the same division that Mahar is dominating this year. His brother Cody Childs won the Rebels championship in 2016, the year after Mahar finally scratched the racing itch by competing in an enduro, which catapulted his career to where it is now.

Mahar said he was “immediately addicted to the adrenaline rush, there’s nothing out there quite like it. Kind of brings me back to my football days (at Buckfield High School).”

He followed in his family members’ footsteps in Rebels because “it’s just a super-competitive division and very affordable to run.”

There’s more to the racing family beyond Conrad and Cody, Mahar points out.

“There’s Josh, Cody, Conrad, David, Cam, Billy, Billy Sr., John, Guy. Too many of them,” Mahar said tongue-in-cheek. And he also has a cousin, Jimmy Childs who he said he looks at as a bit of a racing idol.

“It’s great that everyone in the family is into it, but it’s very hard at the same time. It creates mountains of drama between family members,” said Mahar, who added that his girlfriend Carleigh Steele “has also been a huge help throughout this year.”

Mahar hopes to avoid any drama in the Rebels championship standings, with eight more scheduled race dates to go.

“I do find myself thinking about the championship and about how great it would be to win, but I try not to too much because it kind of slows me down out there at times,” Mahar said. “It’s hard to make a split-second decision to go three- or four-wide and make a big pass knowing how quickly that idea can go south and trash your chance at the championship, so I kind of just try to keep it in the back of my mind and only think about it after the race.”


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