BRISTOL, Tenn. — Mark Oswald, who lives in Bristol lore as a Funny Car legend of the 1980s, has been selected as the newest Legend of Thunder Valley.
Oswald, currently a crew chief for three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown, will be inducted as the newest Legend of Thunder Valley during pre-race ceremonies of the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday. He will join the likes of former track GM Jeff Byrd, Speedway Motorsports executive chairman Bruton Smith, NHRA legend Don Garlits, NHRA legend and current Funny Car driver John Force and NHRA team owner Don Schumacher.
“Mark raced to much success at Thunder Valley in the 1980s,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Dragway. “Not only did he win a lot of races here, he beat some of drag racing’s biggest names, including the likes of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Dale Pulde. His continued success at Bristol as Antron’s crew chief further cements him as a deserving honoree.”
Between 1982 and 1988, Oswald picked up five Funny Car victories and two runner-up finishes, all behind the controls of the iconic Candies & Hughes Funny Car. His two wins in 1983 and victories in 1984 and 1986 helped lead Oswald to IHRA Funny Car championships. His 1984 season was extra special as the nitro pilot also won the NHRA Funny Car championship, becoming one of the few drivers to achieve the sweep.
“I couldn’t be more honored about this award,” Oswald said. “Bristol was always my favorite race track. Living in Cincinnati, Ohio this was one of the first places we came to race when we started to go on the road and to be a legend here is really an honor. We had quite a bit of success at this track and the atmosphere was always great. Every time we came here to race we felt like we had a good chance to win.”
In addition to Funny Car, Oswald had success in two other categories at Thunder Valley. The Houma, La. resident picked up his first Bristol win in 1977, racing to victory in the Pro Comp category. Just five years later, Oswald reached the finals in Top Fuel behind the wheel of his own car.
Despite retiring from driving, Oswald is still active in the sport. His Don Schumacher Racing partnership with Brown has led to three Top Fuel world championships and a Bristol runner-up finish in 2011.