RPW Column: Vacation Back Home Helped Dylan Gibson Rekindle His Love For Racing

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – POWNAL, VT – The bond between 358-Modified racer Dylan Gibson and Big Block Modified racer Olden Dwyer is strong.

It’s so strong, in fact, that their bond goes way past the race track.

Both drivers have known each other for years, and when Gibson was looking to take a vacation from where he was living in Arkansas back in 2021, he headed home. Along with going home to see several friends and his family meant returning to a former love of his…racing.

Gibson started racing in karts before moving up to the Sportsman division at Lebanon Valley in 2009. He ran a few seasons in the class but then left the seat to purse other interests.

Since 2019, he had been living in Arkansas but the desire to race never left. It rarely ever does for any former racer, and Gibson was no exception. Through his dad and Olden’s father, Ron, a ride was secured for Dylan to race a Sportsman car for family friend Dick Bisson.

The team enjoyed some success while Dylan was home, and that only made the decision to move back to the northeast that much easier.

“After being reunited with some great friends and getting a taste of racing again, I went back to Arkansas with the intentions of moving back home,” Gibson said. “I wanted to get back in the seat full-time.”

That’s what he did. He sold his auto transportation business, liquidated everything he needed so that he could move back, purchased a car and went racing.

“We bought a car from Dick which was a former Pat Ward Gypsum Racing Bicknell,” he said. “We finished the year in the Sportsman class, running races at Lebanon, Albany-Saratoga and Glen Ridge, and got several top tens. That just stoked the fire even more.”

To make ends meet, Gibson took a job with Bakers Distributing in North Clarendon, VT, but he had other goals in mind. He wanted to join his friend Olden with his new OD’s Auto Sales in Pownal, VT once it got off the ground.

Within a few months, Dwyer obtained the necessary licenses and opened up the dealership, and a job was in line for Gibson.

“I am now managing the service department,” he said. “Olden’s just an amazing friend and I love that we now work together as well.”

Part of his racing aspirations also meant helping Dwyer with his team. This allowed him to learn as much as he could about the cars since he’d been out of the seat for nearly eight years.

“I resumed helping Olden in the shop and at the track as soon as I came back home,” he said. “We use to race karts together and ran in the Sportsman class together a few years. Our families have known each other for years and now, even my dad is working at the dealership.”

The two have decided to combine their racing efforts to help make each team even stronger.

“This off-season, we stripped my car down to the bare frame and freshened everything,” he said. “It now has a 358-Modified engine in it and looks identical to Olden’s Big Block and Small Block.”

For his part, Dwyer loves being able to work with his good friend again, both day-to-day and for the track.

“It’s been fun to say the least,” Dwyer said. “Dylan’s a great guy and a blast to have around. He works hard no matter what he’s doing.”

“What’s it mean to have him as a teammate?

“I just hope Dylan improves from anything I help him with,” he said with a laugh. “I think that’s the ultimate goal. We want to make each other better and hope that both of us can benefit from each other’s support.”

How does he think Dylan can help improve the performance of the #88 machines?

“He already has,” he said. “This year, I think we can try more things and both have feedback. I believe having another driver as part of the team, someone with experience in the driver’s seat, will help because he can relate to what I’m saying and we can talk out our ideas or issues. It won’t be just me trying to convey my thoughts. He’ll understand exactly what I mean.”

Dylan feels the same way.

“Olden and I were really close growing up,” Gibson said. “We raced together then and shared a lot of ideas, even though we were younger. Now we’re racing together again and he’ll know exactly what I mean when I say what the car’s doing. That will be huge for me getting more acclimated to these things again.”

What are the plans for the #22 358-Modified team this season?

“We are going to run the full year in the Small Blocks at Lebanon Valley,” he said. “We might pick and choose some DIRTcar shows here and there with our sights set on the Small Block race at Glen Ridge on June 12th. I’m also hoping to possibly get some seat time in a Bick Block later this year.”

Has Gibson set any goals for the 22 in ‘22?

“I honestly just want to help prepare a car that is ready to win whenever we race,” he said. “We just want to have fun this year. We’d like to finish top 10 in points at Lebanon this year, but our true goal is to have fun.”

With that also comes appreciation of those he’s surrounded himself with.

“My family has been huge for not only my racing career, but my life as a whole,” he said. “My mom and dad have been amazing for me. I also can’t thank Olden, Ron (Dwyer, Olden’s dad), Brooke (Olden’s wife), Brandon Colpack and everyone on the 88 team for their support as well as my guys. Having all of them behind me, along with my great sponsors, means the world. I hope I can be successful and make them all proud.”

The bond between Dylan Gibson and Olden Dwyer has been there for years. It’s not just racing. It’s not just business. It’s friendship, and that’s the best way to go in this world right now. Enjoying what you’re doing only makes you happier. That’s the key.

Here we are. We now have proof. Vacations can change your life.

Right, Dylan?

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