Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame Officers and Board sends our heartfelt condolences to the family of our 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Tom Corbin.
🏁TOM CORBIN 1940-2020🏁
One of the Heartlands all-time greats Tom Corbin Of Carrollton, Missouri, has passed away. The open wheel racing legend was a stalwart in supers, sprints, and winged sprints from the late 1950’s to the 1990’s, while also owning, and building several cars.
Tom Corbin watched races growing up as a young man at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. It was there that Tom saw the great Bobby Grim star in IMCA driving the Offenhauser powered Black Deuce of Hector Honore.
It all started for Tom in 1959 when he bought his first race car for 50 bucks to run at Sedalia’s “Thunderbowl Speedway”. This effort was short lived and unsuccessful but in a few years Corbin would be a force to recon with for decades to come.
Corbin would race for Dean Hathman in the early 1960’s, a future owner of note winning multiple IMCA titles with Bill Utz in the 1970’s. With Tom driving Hathmans car the young Missourian would win his first super modified race, while also racing for the first time with fuel injection.
For the 1962-63 season Tom would team up with his brother-in-law George Lasoski, (father of Danny “The Dude” Lasoski, a future WoO Champ).
With George (another great future racing talent) the Central Missouri Racers would build a B Modified to race with a carburetor and gasoline. This effort included a 6 cylinder GMC Motor obtained from craftsman Elmer Layne. Corbin was in charge of the motor, while Lasoski was responsible for the car.
This situation resulted in many victories around the area, and led to the Central Missouri team running at the Knoxville Nationals in 1964. For that venture they would replace the GMC with a borrowed fuel injected Plymouth motor. And would finish 4th place in the Nationals, after running 2nd place for most of the feature before losing their brakes.
In 1965 Tom would team up to run with Dean Hathman once again, but this time to race in IMCA, USAC, and CMRA.
Throughout the 1960’s Tom would further develop his talents while racing for himself, and the before mentioned Hector Honore, driving the Black Deuce now powered by a Chevy Motor twice during 1967.
Driving his beautiful Edmunds #44 Sprint Car in 1966-1967, Corbin would win his first IMCA sprint car race in 1967 at Granite City, Illinois, while finishing 14th in the final point standings. Tom would also race his sprint car at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, and the Mid America Fairgrounds in Topeka during this time.
For 1967 Tom and Clifford Jones would also build a beautiful super modified to race in the Heartland at tracks that included Marshall, Jeff City, and Sedalia. This was one of 12 cars bulit by Corbin over the years, and was also raced very successfully by rival Roy Hibbard in 1968-1970.
Over the years Corbin would continue to assault the super modified ranks, as well as clubs that included IMCA and BCRA, in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois. While also venturing across the USA to race.
Tom was one of the very best racing during the afternoon programs that dotted the IMCA schedule, while also being formidable on the tacky tracks of night racing.
In 1970 driving his Blue #4 Chevy, Corbin would win back to back IMCA races at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. While finishing in the top 10 in points in 1976 running a partial schedule with IMCA.
Corbin raced at a lot of different venues over the years, while typically not running very often for point titles. Whenever he showed up however, the competition was served notice that Tom Terrific was ready to roll.
After the demise of the IMCA and BCRA in 1977, Corbin would take his talents to the WoO and the NSCA among other groups over the years to come. While winning as many as 28 races in one season during this time.
In 1978 Corbin traveled to the first World of Outlaws show at the Devils Bowl. After the dust settled in that one Tom Terrific had finished third place behind Winner Jimmy Boyd, and second place Doug Wolfgang, who Tom battled with valiantly for the runner up spot throughout much of the contest.
When the National Speedways Contest Association took over many of IMCA’s race dates and venues at the end of the decade. Tom Corbin would also be a star in the fledgling series driving for Bob Deery in his #22 finishing second place in series points to John Stevenson, but ahead of Jimmy Sills, Randy Smith, Tim Green, and Topeka’s Bill Robison in 1980. While finishing in 4th place in the series in 1981.
In the middle of his back to back great campaigns with NSCA, Corbin would also have a career run at the Knoxville Nationals in 1980 driving the #22 machine.
After the “fog out” on Saturday night at the Nationals in 1980, conditions played right into the hands of the veteran Corbin who was a master of the day time dry slickies after years of racing with the IMCA and BCRA.
Starting in the C Feature Corbin would advance to the B, and then the A. This occurred while many faltered around him in the challenging conditions.
In the Nationals A, Corbin would march from the back to the front closing in on the leaders Steve Kinser and Bobby Marshall before the checkers flew. To this day Marshall calls the drive by Corbin one of the best performances by a competitor during his racing career.
Corbin would also race successfully into the 1990’s during a career that would start with the infancy of Super Modifieds, and end with the technologically advanced modern winged sprint cars. While also helping grandson Jon Corbin, and Rick Smith among others with their racing endeavors.
For his efforts in racing as a driver, owner, and builder, Tom Corbin was enshrined in both the Knoxville Raceway HOF and the CARB HOF, a fitting tribute to this great open wheel racer.
RIP Racing Legend Tom Corbin.
Article by Ray Cunningham