OXFORD — For as long as she can remember, Tricia Gagne has wanted a Ford Mustang. She crossed that off her bucket list when she bought a 2002 GT about two years ago. Now she and her dream car will hit the rubber for their first official run come Friday night at Oxford Plains Dragway.
The Monmouth resident was with her family Saturday at the dragway on Route 26 in Oxford, participating in the cleanup day, which was held in preparation for opening day. Gagne said she and her husband, Bob Gagne, purchased the street-legal car after racing season had ended. The plan was for her to race it last spring, but last year Oxford Plains Dragway shuttered its doors because of staffing issues.
“I was bummed,” she said as she stood outside, leaning against her silver car.
Tricia Gagne said she’s been interested in drag racing since she was 16, when she and Bob became high school sweethearts back when he was burning rubber. Then they got married and kids happened. Now that their oldest is almost old enough to enter college, it’s time for Tricia to pick up where Bob left off.
“Now it’s my turn to drive,” she said, grinning.
“I just keep them running,” Bob Gagne said about the family’s vehicles, including the Mustang, as he’s been a mechanic with Ford for the past 21 years.
“He’s my tech,” Tricia Gagne said about her husband. “We make a great team.”
The mechanic plans to make his wife’s Mustang a little faster each year, increasing the car’s speed in small increments. After all, he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.
“We’ll grow together. We’ll have quite the special bond,” Tricia Gagne said as she patted her dream car.
Even though it will be her and the Mustang’s first time racing on Friday night, she’s not nervous.
“I’m exceptionally calm,” Tricia Gagne said.
This could be, her husband posited, because she’s a bit of a speed demon on the road.
“This is legal though. I am excited about legal racing,” she said as she shot him a half-hearted dirty look.
Dragway owner Jeff Shock said there was a bigger crowd than he expected Saturday, estimating there were roughly 100 racers and their various vehicles at the facility, which boasts an eighth-mile track. He’s hoping there are between 250 and 300 people at the dragway on Friday nights, when the majority of the 2015 season takes place.
In December 2014, Shock struck a lease-to-own deal with then-dragway owner Tom Mayberry, as he didn’t want the lights at the dragstrip permanently snuffed out.
On Saturday, Shock and his crew of volunteers laid a traction compound and rubber down on the track, saying that it’s a weekly ritual.
The new owner emphasized the importance of his volunteers and drivers for the dragway’s success.
“I have a great, great staff here helping out. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Shock said.
There are seven classes people can race under, including the street class, which Shock said has fallen off over the years. As long as a vehicle is inspected and the driver has a license, he or she can bring it in off the street and race.
“We are going to be friendly to anyone who drives through those gates,” Shock said. “Bring your street car, bring your drag car, bring your import car. Heck, bring your grandmother’s car.”
Also up and running on Saturday was the food shack Shock dubbed the Dragway Diner. He’s revamped the menu this year to include some of his favorite foods — hand-cut french fries, burgers, foot-long hot dogs that can be smothered in just about anything, an “awesome clam cake” and poutine — french fries smothered in gravy and topped with “real cheese curds and the whole nine yards.” The diner will be open any time the dragway is.
The gates will open at 4 p.m. Friday with time trials starting at 5 p.m. for the Amsoil Weekly Points Race. Dial-in for Dollars kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and the drivers meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Racing gets underway at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $10 for fans who are 18 and older and $2 for ages 11 to 18. Those 10 or younger are free.
Shock said Friday’s opening day is the first weekly points race of the season and is also the qualifier for the Predator of the Plains which, he explained, is a spoof on the docu-reality series “Street Outlaws.” Those who want to race the Oxford Plains Dragway’s 10 fastest drivers can do so beginning the second week of racing on Friday, June 5, and can challenge all the way through the entire season, which ends Friday, Sept. 18. But if they want to go bumper-to-bumper against the fastest racer around, they have to start with No. 10 and work their way up.
For more information or a schedule for Oxford Plains Dragway, visit www.oxfordplains.com/a-dragway-2015-home.html.