Former Oxford 250 winner Glen Luce (No. 7L) follows Farmington’s Cassius Clark into Turn 3 at Oxford Plains Speedway in July 2017. Sun Journal file photo

There’s not a hint of frustration when Cassius Clark recalls a series of unfortunate events that deprived him of an Oxford 250 victory over the years.

The 37-year-old upbeat driver is now an old farm hand, who knows that when one falls off a horse he must get back on the saddle, but in his case, it’s hopping back into the driver’s seat and taking the wheel instead of the reins.

Driver Cassius Clark speaks as he stands besides his car. Travis Barett/Kennebec Journal

He can recount the times his father, Cassius Sr., who also answers to the name Bill, came up short of prevailing in the 250. But father and son shrug off those near misses, and now the retired Bill Clark, 72, looks to his son to pull off a victory in the coveted Maine race on Sunday.

“I know I have talked about it a million times, but it is our Daytona 500 for this area,” Cassius Clark Jr. said. “You hear the history of it. Growing up, my dad raced and came up short — should have won a few years — and we’ve been at it for so long now and we should have won a bunch of times — and it just doesn’t seem to happen.

“It is actually more than that —it is my community, too. There’s been a lot of great racers from my area — Franklin County — (including) Jeff Taylor, Tracy Gordon, my father, you know a bunch of those guys. It just doesn’t seem to happen for any of us, which we are always easily front runners, (but) just for whatever reason, it just haven’t happened, so hopefully we can change that this year.”

Bill Clark will be on hand when his son comes across the finish line, and maybe this time, it will be a first-place showing at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The father said his son is peaking at the right time, which might give him a bit of an edge in Sunday’s 250.

“You never know what is going to happen,” he said. “(The race) is like the home turf. I didn’t do it; I’d kind like to see him do it.

“I am going to be 72 in September — if you can imagine that. I would like to see him win it before I pass away.”

“BUNCH OF VARIABLES”

You can usually find Cassius Clark in the top 10 during this event, but a victory in a 250 would highlight his stellar career and put a wide smile on dad’s face. But Cassius knows some things are out of his hands — like a blown engine or a dangerous wreck that derails handful of drivers.

“It is just a bunch of different variables,” Cassius said. “There’s guys who have won it and that haven’t been able to win a weekly race. It is kind of the luck of the deal. 

“It is 250 laps, and you’ve got to be there at the end. One year, we had a engine blow, which we won six of 12 races, and we finished second four other times, and we blew up a 250, and you are dominant that year. There is a lot to it, but it has gotten a lot harder just because everybody is so competitive and so close that is it hard to break away and set you apart from the others.”

While Cassius Clark might be peaking at the right time, he said nobody is running quite as well as 2017 champion Curtis Gerry.

“Curtis is really good right now,” Cassius Clark said. “He’s got everything going on, but everybody else is pretty closely matched. Obviously, Curtis is head and shoulders above everybody else. It is his race to lose.”

But no matter who Cassius is competing against, he has his eyes on the prize in a Maine race that continues to have huge following — especially after New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon lost of one its NASCAR dates. Cassius said NHIS’s loss was OPS’s gain.

“It has actually picked up once the second date at Loudon gotten taken away,” Cassius said. “The last two years, it has really picked up in popularity. You get guys from down south. Bubba Pollard came up last year. I think it almost as big as it has ever been. It is an awesome atmosphere. It is fun to watch local racing — a lot of great drivers there. 

“The atmosphere is great. It was lacking there for a few years, but last year was tremendous. I think a lot of guys are spending their money and going to Oxford. It was known for a great time, great parties and a lot of people. Obviously, it is the money. It is $25,000 to win … and you can come out of there with $50 grand. Anytime you win money, it is a good thing.”

O CANADA

Clark always keeps busy and is not one to rest on his laurels.

He began as a part-time driver for the King Racing team based out of Pictou, Nova Scotia. Clark has now been racing for the Canadian team since 2012 and is now a full-time driver.

He said the team is focused on the bigger races. Clark collected his fifth Toromont Cat 250 at Scotia Speedway on Aug. 10. The victory also allowed him to snatch the Scott Fraser Memorial Cup.

Farmington native Cassius Clark drives at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2017. Sun Journal file photo

“We just won a 250 a couple of weeks ago,” Clark said. “I think we have won nine or 10 of those the last few years. We are a Canadian team. We race a lot of those races then we go down here to the big races that pay well.”

“We are set up. We have a great team. We are set up to win the (Oxford) 250.”

NAME FROM ANTIQUITY

The mere mention of Clark’s first name, “Cassius,” begs the question: “Where did that name come from?”

Well, there is a history behind his ancient name.

“I was actually named after my great grandfather (Cassius Wilbur), who started the Coca Cola plant in Farmington,” Clark said.

There were several Roman senators who had a hand in Caesar’s stabbing death, including Marcus Junius Brutus, Cassius Longinus, and Decimus Brutus on the Ides of March in 44 BC.

Clark spoke about incredible coincidence that involved his first name during his freshman year.

“It is funny. When I was in ninth grade, I went to Kents Hill School and we actually read Julius Caesar,” Clark, who graduated Mt. Blue High School in 2000, said. “That was the deal. How often do you hear of kid name Cassius in your class, and she (the teacher) wouldn’t let me play Cassius. I wasn’t a huge fan of her so she let me play something else like Brutus or something. That is the way it went down.”

When he is not racing, Clark is the sole owner of Nichols Trailers and Custom Welding in Farmington.

“I am the owner and the only employee,” Clark, who has been racing since 1998, said. “Sometimes, the boss is a dink.”

“He’s a good worker,” Bill Clark said.

Cassius fulfills another role, too — dad. He has a son Cale and is engaged to Ashley Cibroski, who has a son Vaughn, but racing still courses through his hard-driving veins.

“When you have racing your blood, it consumes everything you do,” Clark said. “When you are working and not burning welding wire, all I think about is racing — just passionate about it. I love short-track racing.

“My dad was a race-car driver when I was a kid and there is nothing cooler than going to the track and seeing your dad race, and I wanted to race forever. I didn’t start until I was 17. When you look at Mike Rowe, I don’t know how old he is, but he just keeps doing it forever. He is just passionate about it.

“My dad is 72 years old, and he raced all his life. He is doing retirement, but all he thinks about is our race. It just kind of the way it is.”


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