Johnny “Crashwall” Gibson, a member of the American Motorcycle Hall of Fame and winner of 1956 Daytona 200 and more than 100 dirt-track, road-race and TT races, passed away Jan. 30 in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 87.
Gibson was a leading AMA Grand National racer of the 1950s. His biggest victory came in the 1956 Daytona 200 riding a factory-backed Harley-Davidson. He also was one of the stars of the popular Friday night Ascot Park races in Gardena, Calif., along with Hall of Famers Sammy Tanner, Al Gunter and host of other top riders of the era.
Gibson played a key role in the revival of Speedway racing in Southern California during the 1970s and 1980s. He built a track in Irwindale and helped foster a generation of riders that would bring the United States back to world prominence in Speedway World Championship racing.
Gibson was born in Los Angeles on July 6, 1930. He began racing Speedway as a teenager. He raced through 1962, when he suffered serious injuries in a race at Ascot Park. He fully recovered, but the demands outside racing persuaded him it was time to retire.
In all, Gibson scored 26 top-10 finishes in AMA national competition, including eight podium finishes.