Local drivers Bruce Rayburn and Dwayne Melvin, who died within days of each other around Christmas, will be honored with races at Southern Oregon Speedway this weekend.
Dwayne Melvin, who drove the No. 69 car, will be honored Saturday at Southern Oregon Speedway with the Dwayne Melvin Clash, a 69-lap race with a $3,000 purse for the winner. [courtesy photo]
The 55-lap Bruce Rayburn Classic, honoring Eagle Point’s Bruce “the Rabbit” Rayburn Sr., will feature a $5,500 prize on Friday. [Courtesy photo]
A pair of races this weekend at Southern Oregon Speedway will honor the memory of two beloved race car drivers who died within days of each other in December.
The speedway will host back-to-back events: Friday’s $5,500 55-lap Bruce Rayburn Classic; Saturday’s 69-lap Dwayne Melvin Clash will award $3,000 to the fastest driver.
The lap count for each event is an ode to the drivers’ car numbers.
Gates for both events open at 5pm, with racing starting at 7pm
Southern Oregon Speedway General Manager Travis Hoppes said the local racing community is looking forward to honoring two of its favorites this weekend. Hoppes said it had been an emotional moment on the track, with a near back-to-back pass by the two local runners.
Dwayne Melvin of Medford lost his battle with COVID the day before Christmas, while Bruce “the Rabbit” Rayburn Sr. of Eagle Point died two days after Christmas from health complications unrelated to COVID .
“Both were very well known. Bruce was one of the legends of the Medford Speedway. He had been racing for many years. He was a car builder and was known for his Rayburn race car chassis,” Hoppes said.
“Melvin was a sports mod driver and a big teddy bear. Everyone loved him. He would work on your car before he worked on his own. He was one of our track champions when sports mods started. So many nights, I would say, “Where the hell is Dwayne? We have to work on his car’”, and he went to work on someone else’s car. That was Dwayne.”
Melvin’s wife, Stacey Melvin, said outreach to the local breed community had been a boost in recent months.
“It’s totally amazing. I just shared a photo on Facebook of Dwayne this morning and wrote him a note saying how great it will be to have him watching all those racing families as they celebrate this weekend,” she said. to say.
“It’s bittersweet because it’s great to see everyone come together. People all over the west coast are messaging me about this weekend, but it’s also sad. Dwayne was only 41 years old. I should still go out running on the track with everyone.”
Stacey Melvin, who grew up with Rayburn’s children, said her late husband, who worked in highway construction, had a Rayburn chassis and the men were friends. His car number, he noted, was a tribute to his uncle, famous local race car driver Roger Haudenshild, whose pink and black car bore the same number.
Ardie Rayburn, Rayburn Sr.’s wife, said she expected to see familiar faces at the pair of weekend events. She said her husband might laugh at the idea of a memorial race, having competed in so many. The Rayburn family held their memorial service at the track.
“He was very sarcastic and funny, so I can’t even imagine what he would say. He would probably be sitting in heaven laughing at us, but I know he would be honored too,” the widow said.
“His number was 55, so the race payout is $5,500, which is a big purse for this area. Bruce was a man of few words, but when he said something, he meant it. I know he ran in many memorial races for others, so he would be honored to see his friends run on their own.”
Hoppes said the loss of the two men, so close together, had been on the minds of the local speedway and supporters.
“The loss of these two men was a huge blow to our racing community, so this weekend will be very emotional for all of us, and we’re expecting a lot of fans for both races,” he said.
“Doing a memorial race for guys you barely knew is one thing, but when they’re part of your family, it’s a whole other thing. It’s going to be a very emotional weekend.”
For more information, visit southernoregonmotorsports.com
Contact Mail Tribune reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.