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Racers looking forward to new track ownership
OXFORD — Members of the local racing community are welcoming the sale of Oxford Plains Speedway.
On Sunday, owner Bill Ryan announced the track's sale to veteran racing promoter Tom Mayberry.
Mayberry is a former racer who lives in Naples and grew up going to the Speedway. He owns Pro All Stars Series, a sanctioning body for asphalt short track racing.
In a press release, Mayberry said he is looking forward to his latest endeavor.
"We hope we can continue the great tradition at Oxford and we are looking forward to a bright future. I'm looking forward to working with the competitors and the fans and I hope to have their support."
On Monday, Mayberry said the decision to purchase the track had come up quickly – when the two men met five or six weeks ago, they half-joked about a deal.
Two weeks later, the two men started filling out the paperwork and signed the deal last Friday.
The sale means some changes – Mayberry has reportedly said he will alter the format of the Oxford 250 to PASS (Pro All Stars Series) super-late model standards.
Mayberry said fans expressed interest in a rules change and gave his assurance that all current competitors would be able to continue to race at the Speedway. He said drivers that might think they would be excluded "should not worry at all."
Mayberry also reportedly plans to host different events at the Speedway, like motocross races and monster truck rallies.
The new ownership is being welcomed by some in the local racing community.
Thom Bell, a Speedway racer for seven years, says he's noticed drop-off of interest and advertising in the last couple of years.
"Really with anything that is in the same hands for a long period of time, you get kind of complacent," he says.
Bell says Ryan has been a great owner, but most competitors are looking toward a fresh start – he's sure Mayberry will do his all to improve the racetrack.
"I'd say about 95 percent of people who are competitors at Oxford Plains are looking forward to what's to come in 2013," he says.
Kevin Bishop, who has both raced and been a track official at the speedway since 1986, agrees the ownership change is positive.
Bishop says that Ryan lost some of his focus on the racetrack in recent years and he's glad the track is going to people from the racing world.
"I think it's great that it's gone to ... people who are more racing-oriented," Bishop says. "I think it will be good for racing and the area in general."
Bishop says it was refreshing when the track changed hands in 2000 and the recent change is another breath of fresh air.
Bishop is particularly interested in seeing what new events Mayberry will host at the track.
"It's a huge motorsports facility," says Bishop. "It really could be utilized for a lot more."
Mitch Green who owns Crazy Horse Racing in Paris, along with his wife Judy, also has a positive outlook on the change and is pleased the track has been purchased by a former racer.
"I've known Tom for quite a few years," Green says. "If the track was to be sold I'm really, really glad it's gone to ... a guy who has race in his heart."
The Green family has been involved in the Oxford Hills racing community for over 45 years and has seen the Speedway change owners several times.
Green is looking forward to seeing what changes Mayberry will make to the late-model class and is confident Crazy Horse will be able to adapt to the changes.
He agrees that diversifying the kind of events held at the Speedway is an excellent way to bring in crowds and revenue.
In general, he's optimistic the new owners will do good things for Oxford Speedway.
"We've seen this ownership change happen multiple times," he says.
"There's always good that comes out of it if you move forward and work with everybody."