Oswego Speedway racing legend passes away

Todd Gibson is pictured following one of his feature race victories at Oswego Speedway during the 1968 season. He won 13 races that year, including nine in a row, on the way to the supermodified track championship. Gibson died on Dec. 1 at age 83.

OSWEGO — Oswego Speedway’s 1968 supermodified track champion, Todd Gibson of Richwood, Ohio, passed away on Dec. 1. He was 83 years old.

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn Todd Gibson’s passing, one of the true all-time greats of supermodified racing,” said Oswego Speedway owner John Torrese. “Todd’s accomplishments will always remain an extremely memorable part of Oswego Speedway’s history, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to the entire Gibson family at this time.”

The first driver from the Buckeye State to earn an Oswego track title, Gibson began competing at Oswego on a regular basis in the mid-1960s. He amassed 21 wins in just four seasons between 1965 and 1968.

After cutting teeth all over the Midwest including at his native Ohio ovals such as the Sandusky Speedway, Gibson took his talents to the Port City in 1965.

He collected 10 top-five finishes and his first Oswego feature win in his first full season, good enough for a runner-up finish in the point standings.

Gibson added three more feature wins in 1966 and placed fifth in points behind champion Nolan Swift, fellow Ohioan Bob Smith, Jim Shampine, and Bentley Warren.

In 1967, Gibson unleashed a new creation that in many ways changed the scope of supermodified racing. Prior to his third full season at the speedway, Gibson acquired a former Indy roadster, offset the driveline, and adjusted the dimensions to repurpose the car as an Oswego supermodified.

Debuting what came to be known as the famed “Flintstone Flyer” in 1967, it was only a matter of two races before Gibson parked the No. 0 in victory lane in June of that season. He went on to post two more wins in 1967. He took second in points behind Shampine.

In 1968, Gibson put together one of the most dominant seasons in speedway history, collecting a record-breaking 13 checkered flags, including a mind boggling nine in a row on the way to the track championship.

Following his unforgettable 1968 season, Gibson returned to Oswego for a few select appearances in the 1970s, including for the 1971 edition of the International Classic, which resulted in a third-place finish.

Eventually, Gibson found himself back in the national spotlight for a four-year stint on the USAC Champ Car circuit from 1976-79. Champ Car racing brought him moderate success, including a top-five run at Mosport in 1977.

Two years later, he retired from Champ Car following a practice crash at the 1979 Indianapolis 500, but did come back to race supers at Oswego on a few occasions. He hopped in the No. 0 for the 1988 International Classic, and in one of the last races of his storied Oswego career put together a solid performance, finishing seventh in his final 200.

He was inducted into the Oswego Speedway’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1999.

His sons Gene Lee, Larry, Terry, and even his grandson Zach have all raced supermodifieds at one time or another, with Gene Lee spending a good portion of his career at Oswego. In 1987, Gene Lee became a second-generation supermodified feature winner at Oswego Speedway, earning the first “Mr. Supermodified” title and pocketing feature wins in back-to-back races.

With his family heavily involved in the sport since his retirement, Todd Gibson was still known to stop by Oswego Speedway from time to time, including for recent Old Timers Reunions, a function at which he will be sorely missed.

 

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