Fred Gibson (motor racing)


Fred Gibson (motor racing)

Fred Gibson (b 1941) is a former Australian racing driver and race team owner.

After a career that began in small production sports cars, first an MGA, and later the first Lotus Elan to run in Australian competition , Gibson quickly moved up into the touring car ranks. In just his second Bathurst start he claimed second place in the 1966 Bathurst 1000, attracting the attention of Harry Firth who invited him into a plumb seat with the Ford Works Team (Australia), a team freshly rejuvenated by the arrival of the first Falcon GT, the 1967 XR model. Heading to Bathurst, Gibson and Firth took a narrow victory over team-mates Ian Geoghegan and Leo Geoghegan after an all day fight with each other and the three leading Alfa Romeos.

Gibson became a mainstay with the Ford team for the next six years, taking much success at Amaroo Park in particular. Gibson won the competitive Oran Park production sedan series, the Toby Lee Series, in 1970 and 1971 driving his Falcon GTHO supported by his Sydney speedshop, Road & Track. At Bathurst however in the early 1970's he suffered a string of retirements. When the racing industry went into decline during the 70's Gibson raced less frequently but was a still regular at Bathurst.

In 1981 Gibson joined the newly formed Nissan touring car team, headed by a colleague for the factory Ford days, Howard Marsden. Gibson became the team's regular number two driver alongside George Fury during the Group C era while running the cantankerous Nissan Bluebird, pioneering turbo charged touring cars in Australia. Gibson's racing involvement declined over time as he moved into a management role, eventually replacing Marsden when he left as manager, and later becoming team owner.

Gibson oversaw the Australian Nissan Skyline program during Group A era, bringing young drivers Glenn Seton and Mark Skaife into the series. Success for the team, now becoming known as Gibson Motor Sport came at last with the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship for Jim Richards. Along the way Gibson and his team developed the Nissan GT-R into the dominant car of the era, winning three successive championship and back to back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992.

Gibson continued to run the team in the V8 Supercar era as a Holden team, becoming a winner again within six months of completely rebuilding the team around the Holden Commodore race cars, and championship success returned with Skaife in 1994.

The end of tobacco sponsorship forced an end to the team's lucrative sponsorship partner, Winfield. Their fortunes declined in the mid-90s as budgets dwindled. Partnership with K-Mart in the late 90's brought another Bathurst win (1998 Bathurst Classic). Gibson's role in the team declined in the late 90's and he eventually sold his interest in the team.

Gibson returned to a direct involvement with his former team in 2001 during a dramatic switch with series star Craig Lowndes joining the team as they switched to Ford. Despite the spectacular beginning results did not come quickly and the team declined again. After an acrimonious split which included a court case over merchandising rights Gibson stepped away from the sport to retire, but is a regular at race meetings and keeps involved in racing.

Gibson is married to fellow former racing driver, Christine Gibson "(nee Cole)".


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