By: Ryan Williams
After taking the entirety of September away, Sumter’s “Toughest Lil’ Dirt Track in the South” will re-open its gates on October 8th. This event will mark the third year in a row that the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series has visited the ⅜’s mile oval to honor two of the very best that Sumter Speedway has ever seen, Edward “Slick” and “Little” Ed Gibbons. Before that day arrives, let’s take a minute to remember how this race began in the first place.
Sumter Speedway was always like a home to the Gibbons family. Both Slick and his son “Little” Ed dominated racing action at the track for decades. Slick’s sudden passing in the summer of 2020 left a lot of racing fans scratching their heads, especially Sumter Speedway promoter Sissy McAllister and family, as they brainstormed for ideas on how to honor the fallen legend. Within a week, the brain-storming led to the beginning of what promised to be the biggest event Sumter had held in years. For the first time in over ten years, super late models were coming back to Sumter Speedway.
McAllister was set to bring in the Clash to honor both Slick and Little Ed, who passed in 2009, in the first running of the Gibbons Family Memorial on October 17th, 2020. The night went down as one of biggest events in Sumter Speedway history, seeing fans flood through the gates, not just to watch the racing, but to honor two of the greatest the sport has ever seen. Eighteen of the region's top stars were present with the Clash, along with a giant crowd of support division cars.
The night began with the Stock V8 division, which saw Terrell Holloway pilot the #33m to victory, naming himself the first ever winner of a race on Gibbons Memorial night. Mod 4 would follow, where second generation driver Terry Caples Jr. would win in his #22c. The third main event saw Robbie Disher take his #41 to victory over a stout field of Street Stocks. What happened next is really what made the night magical. The field of super late models were paced around the track by two cars, one was a Slick Gibbons throwback wrapped late model, the other, the Gibbons Family Racing #07.
Banjo Duke, sporting a Little Ed Gibbons throwback, led the field to the green flag. Ross Bailes, then in #58, who had begun his Saturday in Portsmouth, Ohio, started in the second spot. Bailes was able to get the better of the local favorite coming out of turn two, and would lead all forty laps. Bailes was crowned the first ever champion of the Gibbons Memorial race, with Duke second, and Dennis “Rambo” Franklin rounding out the podium for the night. In victory lane, Bailes would win over the hearts of many race fans as he would hand over his winner’s trophy to the wife of Slick, Mrs. Kay Gibbons.
Once the celebrations had concluded, there were still two more main events left to be run. The first of those was Extreme 4, where an emotional Bruce Denman piloted his #74 to victory. The last race of the night was in the Super Street division, seeing Ryan Winn take the checkered first in his #2 machine. The first Gibbons Memorial was one of the greatest spectacles Sumter race fans had seen in years. The night was a huge success for the speedway, instantly cementing itself as what will be a yearly event for the foreseeable future.
The second running of the Gibbons Memorial was held on October 9th of 2021, with an added bonus to furthermore pay tribute to the two legends. The race originally had a winner’s purse of $4,000, thanks to a number of sponsors this number grew to $5,007 to win, representing the racing number’s both men are known for. With the boosted purse, and much social media attention, the second running of the race saw twenty-one super late models sign in. Anthony Sanders outdid all others in qualifying, and would lead the field to green for the forty lap feature. Sanders would hit the gas pedal on the initial start and never look back, leading all forty laps en route to being crowned the second winner of the Gibbons Family Memorial. Following Sanders across the line were Steve Banal, the inaugural Billy Cagle Memorial winner, and Michael Brown. The highest finishing Sumter native would be Dalton Hodge, finishing fourth.
In local action, Timmy Kimsey would take his #T69 to victory lane in Stock V8. Following that, William Russell would take his #69 to victory in the Super Street class. In it’s first season as a class, Joe Green would win in Econo 4. Aaron Weed would best Miles Mintz to take home Mod 4 gold, while Michael Crouch would beat out a stout field in the Extreme 4 class. The final race of last year’s event saw Cameron Holloway get the best of Chris Shaw and Britt Williams in Street Stock.
Sumter Speedway is excited to host the Gibbons Family Memorial for the third year in a row, and we can’t wait to see everybody come flooding through those gates on October 8th! Gates will open at 3pm, with cars taking to the track around 5:30pm that evening. Sumter Speedway is located at 3150 Wedgefield Rd in Sumter, for more information check us out on facebook, or on the internet at www.sumterspeedway.com.