Ralph Nason of Unity gives a thumbs up after winning the Oxford 250 on July 2, 2000 at Oxford Plains Speedway. It marked the third straight victory in the race for Nason. Morning Sentinel file photo

OXFORD — Determining the best driver in the history of the Oxford 250 is nearly as difficult as winning the race itself.

The conversation starts and ends with the drivers who’ve won it the most, according to many connected in the region’s auto racing scene.

There are four three-time winners in the five-decade history of the Oxford 250, including Dave Dion (1975, 1985 and 1992), Ralph Nason (1998-2000), Mike Rowe (1984, 1997 and 2005) and Travis Benjamin (2013-14 and 2019).

“It’s all an opinion,” said Greg Emerson, of Steep Falls, a longtime crew member for several race teams who also owns Night Owl Creations that specializes in helmet design. “You’ve had four guys win three of them, that’s 12 races out of 49. Almost a quarter of them have been won by those four guys alone. I think it’s one of those guys for sure.”

The 50th running of the Oxford 250 is set for Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway. Qualifying heat races are scheduled to start around 1:30 p.m.

A strong case can be made for all four three-time winners as the best-ever driver in race history.


Dion, of Berlin, New Hampshire, was the first three-time winner. Nason, 83, of Unity, is the only driver to win three consecutive Oxford 250s. And then there’s Rowe, who found victory lane in three different decades.

“Wow, I don’t know who the best would be,” said Nason. “I can’t put a name on it. All of those guys, that’s tough. I know I don’t feel any bit better than any of them. In the Oxford 250, luck meets preparation. It’s 80% luck and 20% preparation.”

Belfast native Benjamin is the most recent dominator with three victories in a seven-year run.

Mike Rowe watches the action at Oxford Plains Speedway on June 27, 2020. Rowe, a three-time Oxford 250 champ, is considered one of the top drivers in race history. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“In my honest opinion, it’s Ralph Nason,” Benjamin said. “To win three in a row, that’s just crazy. I don’t know if anyone will ever win three in a row again. I don’t think they will.”

The second of Nason’s wins, in 1999, featured 46 cars, the second-largest starting field in Oxford 250 history.

Richard Moody Racing driver Trevor Sanborn said ‘Racin’ Ralph Nason is also his pick.


“Who wins three in a row? It’s one thing to be Curtis Gerry and win four or five (Pro All Stars Series) races in a row at Oxford, but those aren’t the 250,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

So, too, is the ability to experience Oxford 250 success over a long stretch of time. Much longer, as is the case with Dion and Rowe.

Dion’s three wins came in a 17-year window, while Rowe’s first and third victories were 21 years apart.

Travis Benjamin of Morrill celebrates after winning the Oxford 250 on July 20, 2014. It was the second consecutive title for Benjamin, who would go on to his third five years later. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

And while Nason and Benjamin won their Oxford 250s in the same types of cars — Nason in a Super Late Model under speedway rules at the time and Benjamin under PASS sanctioning — Dion and Rowe won their titles in vastly different vehicles.

“Mike probably is (the best in Oxford 250 history),” said Poland’s Scott Tapley, the race director for the American-Canadian Tour (ACT), Thunder Road Speedbowl (Barre, Vermont) and White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, New Hampshire). He was also a spotter for Cassius Clark when Clark won the 2021 Oxford 250.

“The reason I think he is (the best), for me, is because he’s done it in every type of car,” Tapley added. “And he won one of those (2005) from dead last. It’s probably easy to say the guy who’s the ‘King of Oxford’ is the best, but in this case it’s probably true.”


Rowe won his 153rd career feature race at Oxford Plains Speedway on Aug. 5, far and away the most by any driver in track history.

But an Oxford Plains Speedway career is not the same as an Oxford 250 career, which is why others eye Dion’s accomplishments more favorably.

Car owner Jay Cushman of Gray, whose son Austin Teras will be in Sunday’s field, said Dion is the best the driver the race has ever seen.

Dave Dion was the first three-time champion of the famed Oxford 250, winning the race in 1975, 1985 and 1992. Portland Press Herald file photo

“He won so many races in so many different types of race cars,” Cushman said. “He won the 250 as a (NASCAR) race, won it as a Super Late Model race when it was ACT, won a run-what you-brung, build it in your garage, open race.

“The Dions raced on less than everybody else and beat them more often than not. Guys like Dick McCabe absolutely had the best equipment every time they left the shop. Jamie Aube was one of those guys. Mike Rowe is in the running, too, as the best ever, but he did it with a lot of good people and cars. Dion overcame so much, built his own motors, his own cars, his own chassis, painted them himself. Who else did that? Nobody.”

Settling on one driver as the best in the history of the Oxford 250, even with 50 years of history to study, is so difficult that one former champion talked himself into three different answers this week.


Multi-time PASS champion and 2020 Oxford 250 winner Johnny Clark of Hallowell thought he’d made up his mind before changing it twice.

“I always thought it was Ralph when he won three in a row. That was huge, but then I would argue that Mike did it in three different decades in three different types of race cars,” said Clark, who lost a tight duel with Rowe in the 2005 race. “So those are my two, Ralph and Mike.

“But then Dave Dion did all of his own stuff in a time when everybody bought their race cars from somewhere else and he built all of his own. That’s truly amazing.

“Can I change my answer?”

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