This photo from the June 30, 1992, edition of the Sun Journal shows Dave Dion celebrating after winning his third Oxford 250. Screen grab

Naturally, my son was perplexed when I called to ask him a question about scientific principle this week.

Much of the buildup to Sunday’s 50th annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway focused on celebrating the milestone anniversary, including discussion of who really is the greatest driver in Oxford 250 history. And with four three-time winners of the race — each of them with their own set of credentials, albeit under vastly different circumstances — picking the one driver as the best over a five-decade run has its pitfalls.

the participants of Oxford 250s past and present can’t come to a consensus as to who really has been the Oxford 250’s best wheelman.

Speaking with nearly a dozen industry insiders this week, there was no clear answer as to who has been the best the Oxford 250 has to offer. Several current drivers even opened conversations with a definitive answer in their mind, only to question their decision — or outright change it — after 15 or 20 minutes of talking it through.

It’s all felt like a bit of a science experiment, one where we take a bunch of ingredients — in this case wins, starts, laps led, pole positions and the like — and toss them around a beaker to see what comes out the opening at the end.

Cooper, my son, is in the midst of working his way toward a chemical engineering degree at the University of Maine, so who better to ask about all this “science stuff.” He laughed at what I proposed, which was that I wanted to decide the best driver in Oxford 250 history by poking holes in their resumes. When he finally stopped chuckling at me, he offered the following:


“Your basic scientific method works like this,” he explained. “You observe your surroundings or what you think you know, you come up with a hypothesis, and you test that hypothesis. From those results, you have your conclusion.”

That works for me.

Thirty-six different drivers have won the Oxford 250, and dozens more have competed in it, But the three-time winners represent as good a place as any to start. Dave Dion and Mike Rowe each won the race in three different decades, and Ralph Nason is the only driver to win three straight, which he did from 1998-2000. Travis Benjamin serves as the modern benchmark, with wins in 2013, 2014 and 2019, all of them since the Pro All Stars Series took over sanctioning of the event following a six-year run for the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division at the Oxford 250.

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

Let’s start with Nason’s candidacy.

Sure, he’s the only driver to win three consecutive Oxford 250s and he’s led a staggering 653 laps across his 18 starts — almost 15 percent of the laps available to him. But Nason also failed to compete at Oxford for a full decade from 1982 through 1992, and he only appeared in three 250s following his third and final win. He has six top fives and top-10 finishes in half of his starts with a average finishing position of around 17th.

Rowe is the celebrated “King of Oxford,” the 73-year old driver with 153 career victories at Oxford Plains. Sunday’s Oxford 250 will mark his 40th start in the race.


Though Rowe won the race in three different decades over a 21-year span, including a win from last place after needing to win the last-chance qualifier just to make the show in 2005, his 250 results are otherwise pedestrian. He’s led nearly as many laps in eight CAT 250 starts north of the border (203) as he has in the Oxford 250 (292). He’s managed to finish in the top 10 only 33 percent of the time and has an average finishing position of 16.82 — just 0.07 better than Nason’s.

Mike Rowe of Turner is introduced to the crowd before the start of the Oxford 250 in August 2021 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Brewster Burns photo

Benjamin has been impressive, if for a shorter period of time than his counterparts in this discussion. He’s led 323 laps across 12 starts, with five top fives and six top 10s. His average finish of 13.33 is several spots better than either Nason or Rowe, but he does have a couple of DNQs on the ledger — including for last summer’s Oxford 250. Also of note, like Nason, Benjamin’s wins have all come in one type of car.

And then there’s Dion.

He’s made 26 career Oxford 250 starts, second among this group of drivers. He’s won in a NASCAR-sanctioned race, an open competition event and as what was then a Super Late Model. He’s finished in the top five seven times, in the top 10 in more than 67 percent of his tries (18) and has an average finish of 11.5 — including a seventh-place effort in his last ride at Oxford in 2006. Dion does have three DNFs, but his 292 laps led tie him with Rowe in 13 fewer starts.

Travis Benjamin, with his father Ronnie and son Kaiden, celebrates winning the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2019. His three Oxford 250 wins tie him with three other drivers for the most in history. Brewster Burns photo

In his first 13 Oxford 250s — exactly half of his career starts — Dion finished in the top 10 a whopping 12 times, with two wins, three podium finishes and six top fives from the inaugural Oxford 250 in 1974 (a 200-lap race that year) through his runner-up finish in 1987.

When compared against the other four drivers on this list, Dion’s numbers are eye-popping. And though the bulk of his Oxford 250 experience came when the race was still coming of age, he also accomplished all that he did with his family owned and operated team. He never hopped from one car owner to another seeking a better opportunity, he never went out and bought a faster car from someone else, and he wasn’t limited to one series or sanctioning body year after year.

The debate about who is the best driver in Oxford 250 history? It’s Dave Dion. The numbers are all there.

It’s science, folks.

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