Mid-race leader Derek Griffith keeps Curtis Gerry at bay during last year’s Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Griffith finished third and Gerry was second to winner Cassius Clark. Brewster Burns photo

Among other things, it takes good luck to win the Oxford 250.

Derek Griffith stands near his car during a 2020 race at Oxford Plains Speedway. Contributed photo

Derek Griffith is hoping to find some at Oxford Plains Speedway this weekend when he visits the track for the first time this season.

The third-place finisher in last year’s Oxford 250 has experienced a lot more of the bad kind of luck this season. So much so that less than three weeks ago he wasn’t even sure he would have a car for Sunday’s 250.

He found one, thanks to friend and competitor Kate Re, whose car was available when she decided not to compete in this year’s race and instead work in the pit tower at the track this weekend.

“Honestly, I didn’t think — as of leaving Berlin (Raceway after crashing on Aug. 10), I was not going to run the Oxford 250. I wasn’t going to run the Snowball Derby, I wasn’t gonna run any of these marquee events that we always hit every year,” Griffith said. “And, you know, luckily Kate Re and Rick Re and the whole Re family called us on the way home from Berlin, and they’re like, ‘Listen, we got this car sitting up here. Please help us help you and race our other car, and we would love to do it.'”

Kate Re, who two years ago became the first female driver to earn a spot in the Oxford 250 through the qualifying process, said that lending her car to Griffith was a no-brainer.


“My family has become very good friends with Derek and the 12G crew, and my dad has known his car/crew chief Louie Mechalides (and his sister Dolly) for a long time,” Re said. “Derek and his crew have been huge mentors to me since I jumped into a SLM two years ago, lending a hand and giving guidance both on and off the track. So, honestly, there was no question what we wanted to do. After Derek’s terrible luck at both Jennerstown and Berlin, and the thought that he may not have a car for the Oxford 250, my family just knew it was something we wanted to do.

“Both Derek and I haven’t had the best of luck this season; him having a good run this weekend at Oxford would be a huge boost, for both our teams.”

Kate Re drives around Oxford Plains Speedway during Pro All Stars Series action Oct. 16, 2021. Re has offered her car to friend and competitor Derek Griffith for this year’s Oxford 250. Oriana Lovell photo

Re, who is part of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program this year, as Griffith was in 2018 and 2019, has had parts of her race schedule washed out by weather, and when she has raced, the finishes haven’t always reflected the performance of the car.

Griffith can relate.

The 25-year-old’s season got off to a good start, with a win in the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida in February. He also made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in April at Richmond Raceway in Virginia.

Then, later in April, his good fortune got turned upside down — literally — during a Pro All Stars Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, when he was knocked into the wall his the car rolled over.


“You know, that was the first time I’ve ever been upside down. And I thought for sure that would have been the low point of the season,” the Hudson, New Hampshire native said. “But, sure enough, it’s kind of carried on to, you know, going to Seekonk, having two flat tires, starting in the back of the pack and wiggling up the third, and then getting a flat tire with 30 to go, or 40 to go, or whatever. That was heartbreaking. Go to Jennerstown, with our (Super Late Model), and get wrecked there, going for the lead, for 20-grand (in prize money) to win. That was, you know, same thing — frustrating.

“And it just seemed like the luck carried on, no matter what I was racing, you know. We ran at Loudon with the Xfinity car and had power steering issues from lap 10. Ran Martinsville with the Xfinity car, had brake issues from practice on, you know. I mean, like man, we can’t shake the bad luck. It’s crazy.”

Griffith said that, considering the constant stream of trouble his cars have had this season, there are different points this season when the easy thing to do would have been to give up. But he’s grateful — and in his words, lucky — to have a crew that has helped him regroup after each mishap.

Those people are also what had made this season so difficult: so much work has been put into the two team cars only for them to get so banged up that for a brief moment he didn’t have one to bring to Oxford Plains Speedway for one of the biggest races of the year.

Griffith’s bad luck and damaged cars haven’t kept away offers from other car owners, however.

Griffith, in fact, is driving two different cars this weekend. Not only will he be driving Re’s car (with her No. 10 switched out for his familiar No. 12G), he also will be driving a Kenny White-owned big-block supermodified in Saturday’s New England Supermodified Series race at Oxford Plains.


Beyond that, he is slated to drive two more times for Sam Hunt Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season, though exact races haven’t been announced yet.

“I am excited. I actually just got back from North Carolina (on Tuesday). I was at (Toyota Racing Development), doing some stuff down there and seeing Sam and the crew for Sam Hunt Racing,” Griffith said. “You know, you need to be down there to shake hands and brush elbows with people that are — they are the opportunities that you need to find. So it’s important for me to spend time down there.

“Of course, it sucks leaving the guys (at the shop back home) behind for a little bit. But they did a really good job over the weekend, getting a motor in the car and transmission in the car, and I’m here putting the seat in and everything. So we’re getting ready. But yeah, we definitely got more in the works for the Xfinity stuff.”

Derek Griffith of Hudson, New Hampshire, finished third at last year’s Oxford 250 and then made his Xfinity Series debut in early April at Richmond Raceway in Virginia. Since then, his season has been mostly a string of bad luck. AP photo

Griffith said driving a multitude of cars has helped him become a better driver.

“I think I’m the best I’ve been as far as, like, feedback goes and, you know, being comfortable in a race car. Which, for me, it feels great to hop in all these different kinds of race cars and be competitive,” he said.

He aims to again be competitive in the Oxford 250 — along with his third-place finish last year, he placed second to Travis Benjamin in 2019 — on Sunday, while also trying to be careful with someone else’s car.


“I mean, I have to fix my own race car, so no matter what, I’m always pretty timid on tearing ’em up bad,” Griffith said. “Which is just like what’s made this year so tough.”

Cassius Clark (13) of Farmington leads Derek Griffith (12G) of Hudson, New Hampshire, during the 2021 Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Clark went on to win his first 250 while Griffith finished third. Brewster Burns photo

Looking back, Griffith wonders tongue-in-cheek if maybe he gave himself bad-luck vibes early in the season.

“It’s funny because … I almost said to myself at the beginning of this year, I’m like, ‘If I won the 250 this year, I’d be happy without winning (any races) other than the 250.’ You know, like, I go down, finally get my name on that list — because we’ve been close; we’ve been second, we finished third, and we’ve been so close,” he said. “So … I hope I didn’t jinx myself too bad, but at the same time I’m like, man, maybe all this bad luck all year’s been because of that.

“We’ll see. It’d be great to run good at the 250. Even, at this point, just finish and have a strong finish, because it’s just been so tough all year to struggle the way we have.”

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