If anyone else has seen the Oxford 250 from as many vantage points as Tom Mayberry, they are few and far between.

He watched the very first race — a 200-lapper before it was lengthened to 250 laps the following year — in 1974. He started on the outside of the front row in 1997 in the lone successful qualifying attempt of his driving career. And now, 11 years into his ownership of Oxford Plains Speedway, he’s the promoter of one the biggest Late Model stock car races in the country.

It’s those different points of view that Mayberry can look back on as he finishes preparations for this year’s 50th Oxford 250, which is scheduled for Sunday evening at the Oxford track.

Tom Mayberry, the owner of Oxford Plains Speedway, will celebrate the 50th running of the Oxford 250 on Sunday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I obviously was here and watched the first one, and to look back and to think that tradition can keep going — and, you know, there was some good years and bad years there, but everybody kept it … alive and moving in the right direction,” Mayberry said in a phone call with the Sun Journal while taking a break from manning a piece of excavation equipment and getting the track ready for the big racing weekend. “And we’ve been fortunate to — it seems like it’s built a little bit every year since we’ve had the track, and it hasn’t tailed off, so we’ve been pretty lucky that way.”

Like every year since his first season running the track and promoting the race in 2013 — he bought the track after the 2012 racing season — Mayberry and his staff started preparations for the next year’s 250 about a week after the previous event. That was no different following last year’s 49th running in late August.

Mayberry said the 250 is the key date on the schedule and what the track works toward every year, and that the fans do as well.


The track has a kick-off party scheduled for Thursday evening in Turn 1, which Mayberry said was planned to “try to build the atmosphere” for the weekend.

In some respects, the party has already started. Campers began filing in at the beginning of the week.

“I just think it comes together and it’s something that everybody looks forward to, and people come and they camp and have a good time, and kind of make it a — you know, some of them make it a week-long event,” Mayberry said. “It’s just kind of exciting to see everybody look forward to it. And obviously the history of it’s pretty neat.”

The history is built on both the racers who have captured the coveted the checkered flag, the big names and local heroes who have only come up agonizingly short, the 3/8ths-mile flat oval of a track with its sprawling front grandstand, the fans that have filled those wooden bleachers, and the track owners who have paved the way for Mayberry’s decade-plus tenure as torch-carrier for both the facility and its marquee event.

Mayberry said the race’s longevity is a testament to its solid foundation and its upkeep as racing and society have changed over the past 50 years.

But the race has by and large stayed true to itself, despite changes in governing bodies and race car types. Dozens of drivers have to survive the luck of the draw, heat races, potential consolation and last-chance qualifiers, and that’s just to get to the starting grid for a grueling 250 green-flag-lap race that requires at least one pit stop.


“I think that’s the thing that I like the best, is you have the favorites, but everything’s got to go, you know, perfect. You got to be fast and going good, but you have to have a lot of luck,” Mayberry said. “And I think that’s one of the things the fans like about the race is, you know, once you get to that lap-125, lap-150 mark, and some guys pit early, some guys pit late, it’s a strategy, and never really knowing what’s going to happen, is a big deal.

“And I think, you ask about the drivers, I think that’s the same thing. They can change it up, and probably something, you know, a little different, and sometimes it pays off. So I think the guys look forward to it that way a lot. A lot of them, just qualifying is a big deal.”

Track owner Tom Mayberry chats Wednesday with racer Dennis Spencer Jr. during the Oxford 250 media day at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Mayberry was on both ends of the spectrum in 1997. He said he couldn’t believe it when he finally made the race, and then found himself starting the feature on the outside of the front row with “the best car that I ever had at Oxford in all the years,” but a big wreck put him in a big hole.

“And once you get behind, it’s so, so, so hard to catch back up,” he said.

Mayberry did finish eighth that year, with Mike Rowe capturing the second of his record-tying three victories.

Coincidentally, it was the first victorious 250 for Rowe — who finished 36th in that inaugural 200-lapper — that was among Mayberry’s most memorable. But not because Rowe was the winner.


No, it was the two multi-time champions who chose chaos over the checkered flag that Mayberry remembers more vividly.

“I can remember years ago when (Geoff) Bodine and (Dick) McCabe were at it, they wrecked each other on the backstretch with a few laps to go,” Mayberry said. “Stuff like that stick out. And then, you know, you got the good ones, the bad.”

Track owner Tom Mayberry, left, and driver Mike Rowe participate in Oxford 250 media day Wednesday at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Mayberry lamented multi-time Oxford Plains track champion Jeff Taylor’s most-recent close miss, which came in 2020.

“I think one of the ones that was kind of discouraging was with (Jeff) Taylor, had the dominant car, a few years back — and he’s been trying to win it for so many years — and had the best car, and then came in for another pit stop, and it was a little bit of miscommunication there with everybody, and you look back at that.”

Johnny Clark was a popular winner that year, but Taylor’s self-imposed drive-through penalty during pit stops put him too far behind to catch back up to Clark.

Mayberry said he thinks the field is wide-open for this year’s race, with upwards of 30 drivers capable of winning, including recent weekly Super Late Model feature winner Mike Rowe. And a second and even third groove that has materialized at the track over the past month after being virtually nonexistent for much of the season could make for some competitive racing.

Mayberry also said the track has been working on some improvements to the racing surface and the facility in preparation for this year’s milestone event.

“We’re just trying to make it the best experience for everybody and hopefully one that everybody will remember,” he said.

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