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All the build-up. All the pomp and circumstance. And then at the conclusion … groans and boos.

For some — maybe even many — of the fans in the stands at Oxford Plains Speedway on the final Sunday in August, the outcome of the 50th Oxford 250 was a downer. After 250 laps and 50 years in the making, the winner was the biggest villain in the field.

Actually, it was kind of fitting.

The state’s biggest race has created numerous heroes throughout its history, but it has also birthed a handful of hated drivers. Add Nova Scotia’s Cole Butcher to that list, and like Santa with his list, check Butcher’s name twice.

Cole Butcher celebrates atop his car with the checkered flag Aug. 27 after winning the Oxford 250 for the second year in a row. Brewster Burns photo

A year after bumping into fan favorite and former race winner Johnny Clark — who won the race in 2020 when there was a severely limited number of people in attendance due to crowd limits in the midst of the pandemic — and then running to victory, Butcher put on a similar show in the race’s 50th rendition.


He spun pole winner Jimmy Renfrew Jr. just six laps into the feature, which sent Butcher to the back for aggressive driving and gave the fans an early chance to cheer against their newest nemesis. Yet that early setback didn’t stop Butcher, who is as talented as he is dangerously risky.

Being in the back early also didn’t deter 2017 race winner Curtis Gerry or one of this year’s best at Oxford, Joey Doiron.

Gerry started the feature 38th after winning the Last Chance Qualifier, ran his fastest lap of the day on lap 100 (while most drivers usually run their fastest laps in the early going), and took the lead with just over 100 to go before being involved in an unfortunate pit road shuffle and later getting caught up in an incident.

Doiron, started in 41st — dead last — after failing post-race inspection from his qualifying heat race. He finished runner-up to Gerry in the LCQ, and made it into the field via a provisional.

Doiron’s day ended better than Gerry’s, but the South Berwick driver was rather gloomy, with a side of frustrated, after the race. He was the second-to-last driver to lead, until Butcher got under him with 27 laps to go. The pass appeared clean to some high up in the stands, but Doiron didn’t feel the same way. He admitted trying to get back at Butcher in the closing laps but couldn’t catch him.

When asked about the winning pass and the runner-up’s gripes in victory lane, Butcher responded with: “I mean, Oxford 250, 50th anniversary — get over it.”



Butcher’s second straight victory is the sixth time a driver has won back-to-back (following Geoff Bodine, Ralph Nason’s three in a row, Ben Rowe, Eddie MacDonald and Travis Benjamin) and the sixth time a Canadian driver captured the checkered flag — Don Biederman, Junior Hanley, Derek Lynch and Dave Whitlock each were victorious once before Butcher’s dual honors.


Lynch was a guest of honor at the race, as one of the former winners. He shared some of that spotlight with three-time winner Dave Dion, who was a villain of sorts during his racing days — though more with race promoters and officials than with the fans.

Dion had been absent from the track for many years, but came back when invited for the 50th. He was glad he did, though he did admit to getting emotional at times, from both all the love received and memories shared as well as missing being in the driver’s seat.


The story of the first 49 Oxford 250s (well, historically speaking, the first Oxford 250 in 1974 was actually a 200-lap race before 50 laps were added the next year) can’t be told without mentioning rain and the havoc it wreaks on an asphalt-track race using slick tires. Heck, races have been won on Mondays, while other years have seen missed practice days earlier in the weekend because of rain.

So it was fitting when this year’s race had a delay because of rain during the afternoon. But that just created a little extra anticipation for an event that had plenty of it all year leading up to Aug. 27.

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