Ralph Nason of Unity celebrates as he climbs out of his car after winning his third consecutive Oxford 250 on July 2, 2000. Press Herald file photo

This is the third in a series of recaps of the first 49 editions of the Oxford 250, in honor of its 50th running on Sunday. The third decade opened with a pair of Canadian winners, but after that the Mainers took over, including the most dominant stretch by one driver in the historic race’s history. Here is a look at the 21st through 30th races:

21. JULY 17, 1994
Defending champion Junior Hanley won pole position, but another Ontario driver won the race.

Hanley led the first 76 laps but spun and surrendered the lead to Unity’s Ralph Nason, who led the next 143 laps until experiencing rear end trouble on lap 219. Derek Lynch took the lead, and from there the 23-year-old pulled away to victory. Another Canadian, Greg Stewart of Nova Scotia, took second. Maine native Mike Maietta was third. Nason finished 25th.

22. JULY 16, 1995
Dave Whitlock became the third straight Canadian — and third straight Ontario driver — to win the Oxford 250. The $52,150 that he took home still stands as a race record.

Farmington’s Jeff Taylor and Strong’s Tracy Gordon, who are two of the best 250 drivers to never win the race, finished second and third, respectively.

23. JULY 21, 1996
Turner’s Ben Rowe nearly became the fourth Maine driver to win the Oxford 250. Instead, that distinction was earned by Scarborough’s Larry Gelinas in the 1996 race.


Rowe — the 21-year-old son of Mike Rowe, the first 250 winner from Maine — was in the lead until he ran out of gas with three laps remaining. When Dennis Demers braked to avoid crashing into Ben Rowe’s sputtering car, the little-known Gelinas took over first place and drove to victory. Rowe finished 12th. Former Sun Journal sports writer Kalle Oakes wrote a few days later that Oxford Plains Speedway publicist Bob Walker said, “A gallon of gas cost Benji Rowe $50,000.”

Gelinas was the final $50,000-plus winner of the Oxford 250, and his win was the start of an 11-year stretch of Maine victors.

Mike Rowe of Turner celebrates his victory in the 24th annual Oxford 250 on July 6, 1997. Press Herald file photo

24. JULY 6, 1997
Mike Rowe survived a wreck-filled race — each car was involved in at least one incident, and only 18 of the 44 cars that started were still on the track with 114 laps remaining — and two flat tires to become the first Maine driver to win two Oxford 250s. He also was the first to win the big race with a car that races at the track every Saturday.

To make the 250, Rowe had to win a consolation race. He started 26th. Tracy Gordon of Strong arrived at Oxford Plains Speedway right before introductions because he raced in a NASCAR Busch North Series race in New York earlier in the day, then chartered a flight to the Oxford airfield behind the track. His stepbrother, and future 250 winner, Glen Luce qualified Gordon’s car. Gordon drove it to a second-place finish. Maine drivers occupied the top 11 finishing positions.

After the race, Gordon said, “I guess that Mike Rowe will always be king of Oxford.”

25. JULY 5, 1998
Ralph Nason had been competing in the Oxford 250 since its early days, including a second-place showing in the third race in 1976, but he had yet to win. He finally broke through in 1998 and began an unprecedented and still unmatched run of dominance.


Nason didn’t avoid trouble, but this time the troubles he encountered — spinouts, a brush with the wall, a stall on pit row that slowed him down — didn’t prevent him from winning the 250. Nor did Tracy Gordon, who finished second for a second straight year, or defending champ Mike Rowe, who took third.

Ralph Nason of Unity celebrates the first of his three consecutive Oxford 250 victories on July 5, 1998 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Press Herald file photo

26. JULY 4, 1999
Ralph Nason joined Geoff Bodine (1980-’81) as the first two drivers to repeat as Oxford 250 champions.

This time, Nason held off constant pressure from Ben Rowe, the race’s runner-up, and competition throughout the race from the likes of South Paris’ Sam Sessions, Strong’s Tracy Gordon, and Dixfield’s Tommy Tompkins.

27. JULY 2, 2000
Ralph Nason, at 60 years old, becomes the first driver to win three consecutive Oxford 250s. The Oxford Plains Speedway crowd booed, but also recognized the magnitude of Nason’s accomplishment.

Nason’s toughest foes in this race were a pair of second-generation drivers whose combined age was less than 60. Ben Rowe, 25, repeated as the runner-up, and 22-year-old Andy Shaw placed third.

Nason is one of four drivers to win three 250s, and his three-peat has yet to be matched.


28. JULY 15, 2001
Ralph Nason’s attempt at four straight wins featured a dominating stretch in which he led for 114 consecutive laps.

Windham’s Gary Drew, the pole winner, took the lead when Nason spun out, and he never lost it on his way to his first win, and the sixth in a row by Maine drivers. A thrilled Scott Robbins, a 28-year-old from Dixfield, placed second, and Nason came in third.

29. JULY 14, 2002
Coming off a second-place finish the year before, Dixfield’s Scott Robbins fulfilled his childhood dream of winning an Oxford 250 in 2002.

Dixfield’s Scott Robbins bangs his fist on his car to the delight of his crew after winning the Oxford 250 in 2002. Press Herald file photo

Robbins led the final 119 laps, during which he maintained a gap between himself and two of the legends he used to watch race in 250s from the grandstands, Ralph Nason and Mike Rowe. Rowe finished second and 18-year-old Ryan Moore was third. Nason placed ninth.

“Winning this race was my goal in life,” Robbins said after his victory.

Ben Rowe of Turner, Maine celebrates his victory in the 2003 Oxford 250. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Press Herald file photo

30. JULY 13, 2003
His first 250 involved running out of gas while in the led with three laps to go. A few years later, he placed second in Ralph Nason’s historic second and third consecutive victories. On his seventh attempt, Ben Rowe finally drove to victory lane — and to history, as he and his dad, Mike, are still the only father-son champions in Oxford 250 history.

Ben Rowe — who started on the pole, while Mike Rowe was second — beat runner-up Steve Knowlton by less than a car length, and Knowlton finished less than a car length ahead of 2001 champion Gary Drew. Mike Rowe took fourth.

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