To most New England race fans, the biggest Oxford 250 weekend claim to fame that Alan Wilson has had was a near miss in the 2004 version of the event. That was when Wilson led 63 laps and was within 11 circuits of making it to the finish line first. Before that could happen, disaster struck. Wilson slid up the track and off the backstretch wall. He recovered to finish in the top five, but it was Ben Rowe who scored his second career 250 victory that year.
Wilson didn't get many chances to create new memories at Oxford after that heartbreaking loss. In 2005, he finished seventh in the 250, but in 2006 he failed to make the show. Then the event evolved into a Late Model race and Wilson's Super Late Model was phased out. The nine-time race winner at the track located within 10 miles of his home had no car that was legal to race there anymore. Wilson joined the traveling PASS tour, running SLMs and eventually a PASS Modified as well.
So when PASS announced that the PASS North Super Late Models and the PASS Modifieds would return to Oxford during the 2011 version of the 250 weekend, Wilson was quick to dust off both racecars that he only runs limited schedules with these days.
And Wilson didn't look back when he returned through the pit gates at Oxford with his racecars. The 2004 Oxford 250 was history to him.
“That is done and over with,” Wilson said.
It was time to make new memories and on the Friday night of this year's 250 weekend, Wilson did just that by winning the PASS Modified feature there.
“This the wrong year and the wrong car, but it's great to be here,” joked Wilson. “I'm glad that we are back racing a little bit. In the first warm-up, I felt a little bit out of place. In the second warm-up, I was where I wanted to be. I knew that we could get here then.”
Wilson's victory was an extremely popular one, as the fans did plenty of hooting and hollering after the race was over. Wilson was honored by that reaction and felt right at home back in Oxford's victory lane.
“They don't know most of the guys on this Modified tour,” said Wilson. “I should win here. I have about three times as much experience here as the rest of the field combined. This is just like coming home.”
To win at Oxford, Wilson had to beat defending PASS Modified champion Andy Shaw. That might sound easy, but so far this year nobody had been able to do it. Shaw started out the season with five straight victories. He might have finished second to Wilson at Oxford this time around, but Shaw was more than okay with that.
“I was in my Mother's diapers when Alan was winning races here, so this is a great deal,” said Shaw. “I had to drive my ass off tonight because the car wasn't that good, but Alan was just as loose. If I had to lose to somebody, Alan Wilson is the guy…especially here. I knew five in a row wasn't going to last forever. So I'm glad it was Alan [who ended the streak].”
“Andy has won five and I'm not taking anything away from that because he has earned each and every one of them,” said Wilson. “We race well together…most of these guys do. This is a good class of cars. It's more economical and a lot of fun.”
Adapting from his Super Late Model, which he also ran this past weekend at Oxford, to a Modified was a bit of work for Wilson though.
“It is different,” Wilson said of his Modified. “The Modifieds don't drive as easy. They jump around and you have to be more careful. You need to use a little bit more finesse with them.”
Finesse is what Wilson used on lap nine, when Wilson rocketed up the outside into a lead that he would never give up.
“I actually got caught behind another car and I had a battle going with Andy. So it just worked right for me. We've done that a few times this year. However gets to the front first is going to win it and that's what happened here.”
The podium was made up of drivers who all called Oxford home before moving on to short track tours as current ACT regular Glen Luce took home third. Dana Reed and bill Dixon rounded out the top five finishers.