Classic Drivers Countdown: Gary Allbritain’s 1975 International Classic Victory Earned Him a Shot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
OSWEGO, NY (August 17, 2015) – As the countdown continues toward the 59th running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway on Sunday, September 6, we look back at the next historic Classic driver on our list, Ohio Classic champion – Gary Allbritain.
From the first time Allbritain appeared at Oswego, it was clear to the veterans at the Oswego Speedway that the young ace, “had it,” despite running his first three Classics from 1972-1974 with little fanfare and a best finish of 13th in 1973.
In 1975 however, Allbritain returned to Oswego in the Todd Gibson built Routh Packing Company No. 75, and timed on the outside row three for the 200.
The story of the 1975 Classic was Fred Graves in the Bill Hite built four-wheel drive supermodified. The faithful on hand wondered if Graves could say out of trouble, and if the machine that was so much faster than the rest of the competition, could go the distance?
As it turned out the Graves No. 39 was the first car out of the race on lap 14 handing the lead to Jim Shampine who was chased by Kempton Dates and Allbritain.
Just before the lap 100 mark, Allbritain would steal the lead away from Shampine. The caution lights then came on for Ron Wallace.
When the race restarted, Shampine then ran into trouble with a broken fuel pump pulley, leaving Allbritain alone out front.
As the race wore on Allbritain had to contend with both Johnny Logan and Steve Gioia Jr., but the young Midwestern racer held on to collect his only International Classic win, and later turned it into a chance at the Indianapolis 500.
Just one year later Allbritain returned to the International Classic, this time driving for Doug Duncan, after a stint in the USAC ranks.
Looking to be on his way to a second consecutive Classic title in 1976, Gioia, who finished second to Allbritain in 1975, roared by Allbritain with less than ten laps to go on the outside of the front stretch to take the lead and the win.
Allbritain would have to settle for a runner-up drive.
In 1979 Allbritain took on the Classic driving for Ed Bowley in the Flying 5. Allbritain timed in fifth quick with the machine and would go on to a seventh place finish as Chuck Ciprich rode to his second consecutive Classic triumph.
Allbritain’s next top ten run in the Classic would not come until 1985, this time wheeling the Jack Tobin number 21. Time trialing fifth fastest in the field, Allbritain finished tenth in the order.
Still with Tobin, Allbritain returned to the Classic podium two years in a row in 1988 and 1989.
A third place finish in ’88 behind Eddie Bellinger and AJ Michaels propelled Allbritain to another runner-up finish in ‘89 as Bentley Warren charged to the win in the Mike Mazur owned ride.
Allbritain’s stretch of good luck continued in 1990, now driving for Skip Matczak in the Polish Cannon supermodified, with an outside second row starting spot and a sixth place finish.
Perhaps one of Allbritain’s most remembered Classic drives came in 1992, driving the Bobby Witkum owned machine. Renumbered from its usual number85 to 35, Allbritain started 16th on this day but would wind up challenging Joe Gosek for the lead with 40-laps to go. Unfortunately for Allbritain the engine seized on the Witkum machine at lap 174.
Another year later Allbritain returned yet again with another new car owner, this time Jim and Danny Soule.
Once again starting from the 8th row in the lineup, Allbritain worked his way through the field to again finish the 200-lap grind in sixth place.
To add to his already expansive cast of car owners, Allbritain came to the 1995 Classic driving the Ed Shea No. 27. Allbritain would just miss a podium finish, driving for Shea, with a fourth place run behind Mike Muldoon, Mike Ordway, and Doug Didero.
That ’95 Classic run would be Allbritain’s final top five effort, in a run which began all the way back in 1976.
Allbritain scored a total of five top five finishes in the International Classic driving for four different car owners, quite the feat.
To purchase tickets for Budweiser International Classic Weekend and the 59th annual Budweiser International Classic 200, call the Oswego Speedway box office today at (315) 342-0646.
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About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full-blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.