Another border battle as OPS serves up second round
of L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge Sat. night

OXFORD, Maine – Round two of the most lucrative regional short track miniseries in Late Model history roars to life Saturday night with the L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge 100 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Drivers from six different states and the Canadian province of Quebec are expected at OPS in the track’s final long-distance trial leading up to the TD Banknorth 250 Presented By New England Dodge Dealers on Sunday, July 22.
Saturday’s tense qualifying session gets the green flag at 6:30 p.m., with lineups set by luck of the draw at the registration table.
It’s the second chapter in the five-race L/A Harley-Davidson Challenge, an open competition series paying nearly $300,000 in purse and point fund money. Every starter in Saturday’s main event is guaranteed $400, with the winner pocketing $2,500 and taking a giant leap toward the $5,000 first prize awaiting the series champion in October.
“We were excited to have 52 cars registered for the first L/A Harley-Davidson Challenge race in April. That was probably the largest field for a tour event or an open other than the TD Banknorth 250 in the nine years I’ve been at Oxford,” said OPS owner Bill Ryan. “With 167 entries for this year’s ‘250,’ it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that many cars Saturday night. There’s so much at stake in this race and later this summer, and it should make for terrific racing.”
Side-by-side racing was the rule throughout the field in the New England Dodge Dealers 150 on April 28. The lone exception was up front, where New Hampshire journeyman Randy Potter led from wire-to-wire and pulled off an upset over the likes of six-time American-Canadian Tour champion Jean-Paul Cyr, 150-time OPS winner Mike Rowe and reigning Oxford Networks Late Model champ Travis Adams.
Potter’s status is uncertain Saturday due to a reported family commitment, but April runner-up Cyr has been one of the most vocal, enthusiastic supporters of the L/A Harley-Davidson Challenge since Ryan announced the schedule late last year.
Though Cyr won an ACT event at Oxford in 2005, he isn’t shy about admitting that most of his visits to the historic, 3/8-mile oval have ended in accidents or mechanical failures.
“You have to be on top of your game at Oxford,” said Cyr, who shares the record for ACT touring championships with northeast legend Robbie Crouch. “Anytime we go to Oxford, those local guys, and I call them specialists, they’ve got their stuff together. It’s pretty difficult to compete with them.”
Indeed, with Saturday’s marathon considered a non-tour event, locals might have the advantage in both numbers and the comfort level of having a consecutive month of Saturdays to sharpen their late afternoon and early evening race set-ups.
Among those looking to serve up home cooking are the four drivers who have won a weekly, 40-lap Oxford Networks Late Model feature this spring. They include Adams and Ricky Rolfe, two-time champions separated by only 14 points in the weekly standings; Dennis Spencer Jr., who has two dozen wins and four track titles to his credit; and Doug Coombs, who led dozens of laps last season in long-distance competition against the ACT invaders.
“It’s a different type of race than what we’re used to,” Adams said, “but you still go into it like it’s any other race. It isn’t the TD Banknorth 250. You won’t have to make a pit stop unless something goes wrong, so you
try to put yourself in position over the first 40 or 50 laps and give yourself a chance at the end.”
Shawn Martin has distinguished himself in distance races, carrying a pair of ACT checkered flags at his home track. Rolfe also followed the familiar path to victory lane against the barnstormers.
Glen Luce, Dale Verrill, Carey Martin and Brad Hammond also have ample experience making the long haul on their home turf, giving outsiders less of a presumed advantage than ever.
“You used to see our touring guys separate themselves at around lap 60 or 70,” said ACT president Tom Curley. “Now the local guys have been running together with us for enough years that they’ve got it all figured out.”
Nobody has Oxford figured out like Mike Rowe, whose three TD Banknorth 250 championships (1984, 1997, 2005) and seven Sportsman track titles at OPS from 1976 to 1990 speak to his greatness. Climbing back into a Late Model was a bit of an adjustment for Rowe, though, as evidenced by his seventh-place finish in April.
Rowe will pilot the Lux Enterprises #24 on Saturday, with young charger Travis Khiel returning to his OPS roots as Rowe’s teammate in the #23. Expected to join them in the ranks of “outside” contenders is NASCAR Busch East veteran Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass.
Scott Robbins, a two-time OPS track champion and the 2002 TD Banknorth 250 winner, has declared the L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge as his priority in ’07.
There is no pre-registered entry list for the L/A Harley-Davidson 100, but Curley noted that the potential rewards of a trip over the Green and White Mountains this weekend are enough to get his touring regulars’ attention on an ‘off’ weekend.
“These big-money events have created a great situation for our guys, and it doesn’t necessarily benefit us,” Curley said. “One of our drivers who has finished in the top five in (ACT) points three or four years in a row
isn’t running the tour this year. He’s going to run the Oxford Challenge and run Thunder Road (in Barre, Vt.) weekly. A lot of guys are going to pick and choose the races that pay well, and you know, that’s good for all
of us.”
In addition to Cyr, ACT drivers expressing interest in the full L/A Harley series include Brent Dragon, Eric Chase, two-time TD Banknorth 250 champion Jamie Aube, John Donahue, Joey Becker and local favorite Ron Henry of New Gloucester.
In addition to the heat, consolation and potential last-chance race for the Late Models, Saturday is a busy night for the Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly and Mini Stocks of the Oxford Championship Series. The
Strictly division will wage two 30-lap features to make up for last week’s rainout, with the Mini class also slated for a 30-lap main event.
Wednesday and Thursday’s edition of the Lewiston Sun Journal and Thursday’s Portland Press Herald contained a $5 coupon, good for savings on one adult admission to the L/A Harley-Davidson 100.

Oxford Plains Speedway is a 3/8-mile asphalt oval located on Route 26 in Oxford, Maine. We are located approximately 15 minutes from Lewiston-Auburn and 45 minutes from Portland. With main grandstand seating for 13,000, Oxford Plains Speedway is the largest spectator sports facility in the state. More than 400 men, women and children compete at OPS during the summer in a variety of racing endeavors. For more
information about the track, a rundown of Saturday’s event schedule or our 2006 racing schedule, go to or call (207) 539-8865.