Former Sunset Speedway mini-stock competitor Rob Gibson is taking a big plunge in to the OSCAAR Super Late Model series for the 2013 campaign.
Gibson, nicknamed the ‘One Man Army’, joins a growing list of rookie-of-the-year contenders, which includes Kevin Cornelius, Andrew Gresel, Sean Cronan, and J.R. Fitzpatrick.
Gibson will pilot car #3 for the 2013 campaign with a traditional black and silver paint scheme inspired by his racing hero Dale Earnhardt Sr.
After initially purchasing the chassis driven by Tyler Hawn throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Gibson later purchased another piece from Jeff Walt. Since then, he has been taking the best of both cars.
“I started doing some research and found that it was a pretty old chassis. So I picked up a 2008 Howe chassis as well,” explained Gibson. “I started fitting some stuff from Tyler’s old car to this new car. Basically, I’m going to be using is the motor, the (transmission) and the rear-end.”
The winter has been a long and eventful one for Gibson, who is going through the process of piecing together a Super Late Model for the first time.
“We pretty much started from scratch,” said Gibson. “It’s a learning experience that’s for sure.”
The Orillia, Ont. native still finds the experience of owning a Super Late Model to be surreal after watching the series at nearby speedways for most of his life.
“I always watched them and I always loved them. I actually never thought I would drive one,” said Gibson. “Tyler (Hawn) started working at my work and we got talking. I went to the bank and next thing I know there’s an OSCAAR in my garage. I don’t really know how it happened.”
The relationship between the two drivers has extended beyond the workplace, blossoming in to a friendship at the racetrack as well.
“We’re pretty good buddies now. He’s helped me a lot,” said Gibson of Hawn. “Jeff Walt’s helped me a lot too.”
The transition to a powerful 500-horsepower Super Late Model from a four-cylinder Honda won’t be easy for Gibson, but he feels he will learn the trade with enough seat time.
“I think I’ll be fine driving wise once I get some practice,” said Gibson. “The closing rate is a lot faster, I can tell that just from watching. I guess I’ll just have to pick it up (as I go).”
Gibson has already warned he won’t be ready for opening day on May 19, but is eyeing a June 1st debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) Speedway. The original plan for the rookie contender was to run a full season, but with a limited schedule, Gibson is looking forward to races at CTMP, Peterborough, and Sauble.
Operating as a lower-budget car, Gibson knows he will have to stay clean in order to make as many races as possible.
“If I get in a bad wreck, it’s going to take a little bit to fix it,” he said. “I don’t have the money to re-clip (the car) and be out the next week.”
By the same token, if Gibson earns enough prize money he will continue to race.
“If I can cover some of my costs, I’ll keep going as much I can. I’m not scared to race it, that’s for sure.”
The Sunset veteran has set the bar of expectations quite high for his rookie season.
“I’d love to be in the top-ten consistently. A top-five would be like a win for me,” explained Gibson. “With the names going in to (the series) it’s pretty far-fetched, I realise. But some nights they can have trouble and maybe I won’t.”
“You keep seeing all the names that are joining and it’s just ‘wow’.”
Finally fulfilling his OSCAAR dream, Gibson is likely to be a kid in a candy store when he takes his first green flag behind the wheel of a Super Late Model in June.
From Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)