Glen Luce celebrates after winning the prestigious Oxford 250 on Aug. 30, 2015. Portland Press Herald file photo

 

TURNER — Nobody was more surprised to see Glen Luce pull into victory lane at the Oxford 250 than Glen Luce himself.

“I was in shock,” Luce admitted this week, and he wasn’t the only one.

Five years ago this week the Turner driver pulled off the biggest upset win in 14 years in the region’s biggest single-day stock car racing event. Prior to winning the 42nd annual Oxford 250, Luce had never won anything more than a few entry-level races in weekly competition at Oxford Plains Speedway. Despite stints racing with the Pro All Stars Series and the American-Canadian Late Model Tour, Luce was — until that night — winless at short track racing’s top regional levels.

When Gary Drew won the 2001 Oxford 250, he became the first weekly driver in the history of the race to pull left into victory lane at night’s end. It wasn’t until Luce won in 2015 that another driver pulled off such a surprising feat.

 

 

“I don’t think you can put it into words, I really don’t,” Luce said. “There’s some great drivers who have done this back in the past. Coming up through and growing up, I would never miss a 250. I was always there, always cheering for Mike Rowe and other local guys.

“We hadn’t run well all that year. I mean, we always had a really good car for 15 or 20 laps, but then it would just fall off. The funny thing was, I did not want to bring that car. It was a new (Kyle Busch Motorsports) car, but I was ready to give up and just go back to the Distance car we had and run that. But Seth (Holbrook) was right. We knocked it out of the ballpark.”

It wasn’t until the race was just past the halfway point that Luce realized his dream of someday being an Oxford 250 champion might come true.

He saw leaders Wayne Helliwell Jr. and Joey Doiron through his windshield, and their cars got bigger and bigger and he got closer and closer.

Glen Luce of Turner pumps his fist into the air as he climbs out of his car after winning the Oxford 250 in August 2015. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I didn’t know until about lap 130 when I saw how fast I was reeling in Helliwell and Doiron,” Luce said of when he started thinking he could win. “I just thought to myself, ‘This thing is unbelievable.’ If somebody didn’t give me the spot, I wanted to be patient. I didn’t want to get hit. I didn’t want to damage. I didn’t want to screw anything up.”

From there, as they say, the rest his history. Which is exactly where Luce’s name is now etched, even if nobody saw it coming beforehand.

“Maybe if I’d won six or eight races that year, maybe they’d talk about us having a shot at winning,” Luce said. “I understand that totally. We were maybe a fifth-place car at best. But I remember getting out of the car after practice on Friday and saying, ‘This isn’t even the same car.’ My guys asked me what I thought, but they already knew the answer. They knew what I had. They were letting me say it….

“And what I said was, ‘I can win the 250.’”

Holbrook, who has been part of several Oxford 250-winning teams, remembered more about the struggles the team had had all season leading into the weekend than he did about winning that particular race.

“I remember running so bad all year, leading races at halfway and being lapped before they were over,” Holbrook, of Turner, said. “We had a good car all year, but we could never finish the deal. We finally got the car so it didn’t give up at the end.”

Giving up isn’t in Luce’s vocabulary.

Glen Luce receives a congratulatory hug after winning the prestigious Oxford 250 on Aug. 30, 2015. Portland Press Herald file photo

The native of Strong hasn’t raced since the Oxford 250 last season. He’s been busy with his logging business following a difficult winter, and he continues to battle health problems. Before the end of September, Luce is scheduled to meet with specialists in Boston — again — for what they fear is Parkinson’s disease.

He and Tim Stevens, who co-owns the race team with Luce, had begun preparations to run in this weekend’s Oxford 250. Ultimately, they decided that financially, it wasn’t worth the risk given that the car has yet to be on the track in 2020 and they weren’t prepared enough to go mix it up with other drivers and teams who have spent the last two months readying to contend for the win.

Ironically, in 2015 Luce could have become a two-time Oxford 250 winner.

In 2008, in a rain-delayed event, Luce finished second to two-time and current NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick in the Oxford 250. He still kicks himself over losing his shot at victory that summer on a restart with 10 laps remaining.

“You’ve got to learn to win,” Luce said. “I had winning cars if it had been Tracy Gordon, or Mike Rowe, Ben Rowe at the helm. But I blew it. It takes time. But once you finally learn to win, everything changes.”

Luce said he expects to race some PASS races before this season ends.

In thinking about this Oxford 250, he’s gone back and watched the video replay of his victory five years ago.

“I’ve watched the video of that race probably eight times in the last two months,” Luce said. “It still gives me chills. I still get a reaction seeing the looks that were on my guys’ faces in the pits. I’ve watched myself standing (in victory lane) when they hand me a drink and then go to talk to me. I was speechless.”

Luce followed that win with others, including one at Autodrome Chaudiere in Quebec and two PASS victories in both 2016 and 2017.

None of those meant as much as winning the Oxford 250.

“It was unbelievable,” Luce said. “It completes me. I didn’t feel I had to prove anything to myself after that, but I wanted to prove to everyone else that it wasn’t a fluke.

“There’s nothing like it.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.