Kate Re, left, and Austin Teras connect going into a corner at Oxford Plains Speedway on Aug. 16. Oriana Lovell photo

A dream-come-true was realized for Austin Teras when he qualified for the Oxford 250 in his first attempt two years ago.

Kate Re poses for a picture inside of her Super Late Model race car. Karen Re photo

Kate Re is hoping she has the same feeling Sunday when she makes her first attempt at qualifying for the one of the biggest short-track stock car races in the country.

The two teenagers will have to battle a field full of veterans, however, in order to make it into the feature, which will likely include 40-plus cars.

“It’s definitely going to be some tears when we qualify, since when I told my dad when I was 8 years old, when I started racing, that my goal was to attempt to qualify at 16 for the Oxford 250,” Re said. “And it’s just taking a moment this week, taking a moment to realize now I’m getting ready to check off a goal off the bucket list. It’s emotional in a way.”

The 16-year-old Re, who lives in Harrison, is in her first season racing the Super Late Model cars that compete in the 250. She did race on 250 Sunday last year, in a Pro All Stars Series Modified car, finishing 12th in the PASS Mods feature.

Teras, a 17-year-old from Gray, has been around Super Late Model cars his whole life, but first jumped into one two years ago. He picked up his first SLM victory at Oxford Plains Speedway as a rookie and has qualified for the 250 in both of his attempts, finishing 34th in his first try and 21st a year ago.

“The first year I was definitely nervous. I had barely any experience with full-sized cars and almost none in long-distance races, but we had to start somewhere,” Teras said. “I was excited to compete in a marquee short-track race because I watched Super Late Models race my whole life and knew I wanted to do that, so it was very nerve-wracking for the first time and not much (nerves) have gone away. Every year I get excited for this race and can’t wait to run.”

Teras said he was barely old enough to walk when he started following his father Jay Cushman’s race team, Cushman Competition, which has prepared cars for former Oxford 250 winners Dave Dion and Larry Gelinas among others.

Teras said he “fell in love with SLMs right then. I have been chasing that dream ever since.”

Austin Teras competes in Pro All Stars Series action at Oxford Plains Speedway on July 18. Oriana Lovell photo

Re got into racing in part through her father Rick’s snowmobile racing career — and Re followed in his footsteps on sleds. She said her father was helping a friend with a PASS Limited car (a now-defunct division) when she first got into go-kart racing, which jump-started her career on four wheels and pavement.

After finding success in karts, Re moved on to Legends and Legacy cars before jumping into a Modified. Driving a Super Late Model was the next step.

“I was ready to move up, I was ready for another competition level and I was ready for a huge learning curve,” Re said. “I was excited to be against people I’ve looked up to, and it kind of felt like the perfect time with the PASS Mod (last year) and then now into the Super (Late Model). It was just kind of the right timing for us.”

Re’s car is owned by her mother Karen, who said, “Let’s see what you can do,” to Re when making the decision to buy the SLM car.

Re admitted that the learning curve she and her team have encountered with the jump up in division has been even bigger than they expected, and struggles and inconsistent showings have been frustrating. Re currently sits in 15th place in the SLM point standings at Oxford Plains.

Teras, who finished seventh in the SLM standings as a rookie two years ago, has moved on from the weekly action at Oxford Plains, instead focusing on running the full PASS tour, where he currently is 10th — one spot behind Re, who has competed in one more race — entering the 250.

Kate Re races around Oxford Plains Speedway on Aug. 1. Oriana Lovell photo

 

Teras said it’s a learning experience driving against more accomplished veteran drivers, but that he’s always been raced fairly since he moved up to the SLM division. Re said she hasn’t had that same fortune, and is in the process of earning that same respect from her follow drivers.

She did say that she’s received some help from her new competitors.

“I’ve looked up to Ben Rowe and Derek Griffith a lot this season,” Re said. “They’ve helped me all season long with tips on strategy, all the (possible racing) lines and things like that. So it’s cool to be racing door-to-door with them.”

Kate Re stands next to her Super Late Model race car. Karen Re photo

Re also leaned on former Oxford Plains racers Vanna Brackett and Missy Morgan earlier in her racing career. Brackett is one of the last women to qualify for the 250, doing so in 2015. Sarah Cornett-Ching was the most recent in 2017.

Re is the only woman entered into this year’s 250, and she already sees herself as a role model for younger female drivers, especially those competing in go-karts at Richmond Karting Speedway, where she used to spend her summer weekends.

Now, however, she’s eating, sleeping and breathing Super Late Models, trying to reach a goal that she set eight years ago.

If she can get into the 250, she might find herself battling with Teras, who said competing in the race “really is a dream come true.”

“It’s gonna be a long, crazy weekend, but the Monday after it is always pretty happy and humbling,” Teras added.

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