By February 28, 2023 News & Announcements

GET TO KNOW YOUR CHAMPIONS: JR. DRAGSTER EDITION: The Rad Coatings Jr. Dragster champion in the advanced class for 2022 has an academic résumé that’s as impressive as her performance on the track. Here’s her story.


DRIVER: Summer Gibson


AGE: 17


CLASS: Advanced (ages 13-18)


HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Summer’s dad, JR Gibson, raced at Milan Dragway for years and was the 2009 limited drag radial champion. She didn’t get into a car until she was 13 years old – and wasn’t sold on the idea.


“I actually told my dad, ‘I’ll go down once, and then you’re selling my car and I never want to do it again,’” Summer said. “I went down once and I was addicted.”


WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DRAG RACING? “I love the adrenaline. I love the pressure. But I (also) like the family aspect of it. There’s nothing better than going and spending the weekend, getting close with my family. And friends, over time, have become family, now.”


HOMETOWN: Onsted, Michigan
HOW DID YOU WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Summer entered the final race with a one-point lead over her friend Lizzie Martel. When they paired up with each other, they knew it’d be for the championship. Summer went on to win the title by 23 points.


ONCE YOU AGE OUT OF JUNIORS, TO YOU PLAN TO KEEP RACING? Summer has long-term plans to keep racing. But she might need to take some time off in between because of her academic plans.


Summer graduated high school at 15 and is only a couple months from getting her associate degree at Jackson College. After that, she’s planning to attend med school.


Once it’s time to race bigger cars, Summer hopes her dad will let her drive his twin turbo Fox Body Mustang.


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? An orthopedic spine and trauma surgeon.


“My sister got cancer when she was little, so I got to kind of grow up in the hospital,” Summer said. She was only 7 years old when her sister was diagnosed, but it made her want to become a doctor.


Summer’s goal is to own her own private practice someday, “so I can go race on the weekends.”



And for Summer, the drag strip and the operating room aren’t necessarily polar opposites.


“I like the adrenaline of being a trauma surgeon.”


WHO ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY RACES? Her dad isn’t the only other racer in the family. Summer’s sister, Autumn Gibson, also races junior dragsters.


Autumn, 12, finished fourth in the intermediate class at Milan this year.


“She’s younger, and she’s definitely a better racer,” Summer said.


The Gibson sisters have had success beyond Milan Dragway, too. Summer also won the points championship at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in 2022, and Autumn finished second in points at U.S 131 in her class. Summer also lost in the semifinal in the Eastern Conference Finals at Bristol Dragway this year and won the Teel Family Memorial Race at Bristol.


WHO DO YOU WANT TO THANK? My parents and my sponsors: CLEANShot Intakes, Blossom Racing Engines, Darrell Cox Racing Starters, Halfscale Dragsters, S&P Recovery, AJ Door and Kari & Company Salon.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE? “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”


Summer’s dreams for 2023? Winning Bristol and winning a Wally.


“I want a Wally,” Summer said. “That is one that I have not been able to pull off … My sister has two.”


WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNGER RACERS? First off, hit the practice tree as much as possible.


“That is my area of expertise,” Summer said.


The other piece? Go down to the finish line and watch people race. The finish line takes a little longer to master, Summer said.


“Some of the best racers have (learned) from watching the older people,” Summer said. “On test passes, go down and practice turning your head and not looking straight. It’s a weird feeling.”


The best racers have mastered the starting line and finish line. And the way to do that is by watching, talking to experienced drivers and practicing the skills, Summer said.


“So watch and talk to us,” Summer said. “We’re not scary!”