With deep respect, Trackside salutes Russ Conway, who recently passed away at the age of 70.
Conway was a former (Lawrence, Mass.) Eagle-Tribune sports editor and a renowned hockey writer who covered the Boston Bruins. He famously uncovered a major scandal within the National Hockey League’s Player Association, which helped lead to the eventual imprisonment of union head Alan Eagleson. He was a pillar of New England stock car racing as a journalist, promoter and track owner. More importantly, he was a classy gentleman.
Legendary Boston Bruin Bobby Orr, upon learning of Conway’s passing, said, “It’s a sad day. He was a friend to all of us. He’s going to be missed.”
As was his custom, Conway recently attended the Ollie Silva Memorial Supermodified event at Lee USA, as well as the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson Speedway.
Conway had a particular fondness for Supermodifieds, having helped Ken Smith and Charlie Elliott form the New England Super Modified Racing Association in 1965. For the next 20 years, the organization promoted events up and down the East Coast. In 2006, Conway was inducted into the NEAR New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Showtime at Oxford Plains
So here we are on the eve of the Oxford 250, the crown jewel of northern New England auto racing. Summer went by fast, didn’t it? The 46th Annual Oxford 250 is this weekend and it is jam-packed with tantalizing events.
Friday evening has a full slate of support divisions – Bandits, Cruisers, Outlaws, Rebels and Legends, among others. On Saturday, there is a premium doubleheader: the Tri-Track Open Modified Series 100 and the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model 150.
Sunday’s Oxford 250 for Pro All-Star Series (PASS)-type Super Late Models will pay $25,000 to the winner and $100 to the leader of each lap. In 2012, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson won the race and led for 205 laps – tops all-time – for a haul of over $45,000.
Last year’s winner, Bubba Pollard of Senoia, Ga. – the first non-New England driver to win in several years — pocketed over $28,000 after taking the lead from Maine’s Travis Benjamin with 31 laps to go.
The 2019 Grand Marshal is former New Hampshire Motor Speedway impresario Bob Bahre. He purchased Oxford Plains in 1964 and held the first 250 – the inaugural race, actually, was 200 laps – in 1974. Joey Kourafas won it, helped in part when the late New England Hall of Famer George Summers ran out of gas three laps from the finish.
Curtis Gerry of Waterboro, Maine, won the 250 in 2017, and Gerry has been a powerhouse at Oxford this season. He has three PASS wins and three weekly 50-lap feature victories.
Three years ago, New Hampshire’s Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover prevailed in the Oxford 250 in the EKeys4Cars No. 27 bearing the colors of New Hampshire racing icon Dave Dion, who won the 250 three times (1975, ‘85 and ‘92).
The list of leading contenders in this classic race is long, but upset winners are not a rarity — look no further than 2015 winner Glen Luce. Among the racers to keep your eye on Sunday are PASS point leader DJ Shaw of Center Conway; Garrett Hall of Scarborough, Maine; two-time winners Ben Rowe, Eddie MacDonald and Travis Benjamin and Nick Sweet; the aforementioned Polewarczyk; fellow Hudson competitor Derek Griffith; Mike Hopkins; and certainly Pollard.
Pollard has attained short-track sensation status at this point after a decade’s worth of Pro Stock/Late Model wins in premiere events throughout the Southeast and beyond.
Around the tracks
Rich Dubeau of Plainfield and Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, Vt., will begin Saturday night’s ACT 150 separated by 21 points atop the Tour point standings After Oxford, only two ACT point races remain. ...
ACT-type Late Models turned 200 laps last weekend in the $10,000-to-win Bacon Bowl at Autodrome Chaudiere. Patrick Laperle was the race winner with Nick Sweet second and Jean-Francois Dery third. ...
Faced with a shaky weather forecast, Monadnock postponed its Granite State Pro Stock Series/Valenti Modified Series doubleheader last weekend. The next stop for the Granite State Pro Stock Series is at Claremont Motorsports Park Sunday, Sept. 1. The night before that, the Valenti Modifieds will be in action at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Doug Coby padded his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point lead with a win from the pole in the Bud King of Beers 150 at Thompson. Justin Bonsignore finished second and is tied for second place in the championship point standings with Ron Silk, 47 points behind Coby. The Whelen Modifieds race next at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 31, along with the ISMA Supermodifieds. That’s the day before the 63rd Annual Supermodified Classic. ...
Star Speedway, Hudson and White Mountain will not be racing this weekend.