PASS modified winner Spencer Morse celebrates his victory in August during the Oxford 250 weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Auto racing has never been a particularly difficult beat to cover.

Whether it’s the NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a Pro All Stars Series or American-Canadian Tour race at Oxford Plains Speedway or a street stock event at Wiscasset Speedway, there are dozens upon dozens of people in every pit area and nearly as many stories to find. It’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed covering the sport at all levels nationwide for more than two decades now.

What is difficult about covering auto racing? Finding a consensus. On anything.

A change in the schedule? Someone doesn’t like it. A tweak to the rules? Guaranteed, it doesn’t fit somebody’s budget. A melee on the backstretch? Three drivers involved, three radically different interpretations of who was at fault.

The abbreviated, upside-down 2020 schedule was no different, with one incredible exception.

Talk to anybody involved and they’ll all rightly spread kudos all around, to track owners and series promoters, to fellow competitors, to people stewarding pit areas all across the region. For all intents and purposes — and against the longest of long odds — 2020 was a smashing success for motorsports at the local level.

PASS managed to run a full 14-race schedule. Oxford Plains Speedway handed out championships. Wiscasset, Speedway 95 in Hermon and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough all raced — in one form or another — this summer and held the marquee events on their respective schedules.

There was an Oxford 250.

There was an Oxford 250 with a popular winner in Johnny Clark, the six-time PASS champion who finally capped an impressive resume with the one race missing from that document.

There was an Oxford 250 weekend, rain and all, complete with an ACT race, support divisions and full fields.

Let that soak in.

All politics aside, marvel in the not-so-small miracle that the history books will have no asterisk next to 2020 in the rundown of year-by-year Oxford 250 results.

It was only a month before the late August running of the Oxford 250 that competitors openly wondered — in the face of a sweeping global pandemic, size restrictions on public gatherings and the strange bubble-centric professional sports landscape across the country — how an Oxford 250 with 50-plus teams and thousands of support crew members could ever happen. PASS president and Oxford Plains owner Tom Mayberry went on the record just days before the Oxford 250 and said it was so difficult to pull all of the strings that needed pulling, if all restrictions were the same in 2021, he would opt not to do it again.

Mayberry can be a polarizing figure in northeast motorsports. He doesn’t worry about making friends, he cares little about public relations and he loathes media obligations. On more than one occasion in his career, Mayberry has clashed with competitors, officials from other series and reporters.

But on this all can agree — Tom Mayberry and everybody else involved in motorsports in Maine and beyond in 2020 are to be commended.

Had Wiscasset or Beech Ridge shuttered for the season in June, given the strict mandate on grandstand attendance, nobody would have blamed the track owners facing financial hardships. Had PASS or ACT opted to put a halt to racing regionally, most would have understood. Had Mayberry announced in July that there would not be an Oxford 250, a three-day social media firestorm would have commenced before cooler heads prevailed and everyone realized that it was a losing proposition to hold a $25,000-to-win race without being able to sell the thousands of tickets that often offsets the giant purse.

But nobody shuttered their doors.

Nobody called off the Oxford 250, the Boss Hogg 150 or the season-ending PASS/ACT championship doubleheader at Oxford Plains. (We see you, rain. Your presence has been duly noted.)

Hundreds of people gathered at each race track each weekend in Maine, and no Covid-19 outbreak resulted from any of them.

Racers and fans found ways to both compete and watch their favorite races, either in person or via live video streaming services.

Had you asked in May whether it was possible to have a traditional motorsports season in 2020 in this state, you likely would have heard a resounding no. Had you asked anybody involved in the sport if they’d have a traditional motorsports season in 2020, and at the end all would agree it was a job well done, you’d have been straight laughed out of the room.

There’s rarely a consensus to be found in motorsports. But this year, we can all agree that the people involved deserve all the credit in the world for getting 2020 to the final checkered flag of the fall.


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