"Dads Dirty Bird" Blown Ford (click on for more pictures)
Gary O’Steen is one of Mud Racing’s living legends, who is still active in the sport today.In his racing career, Gary has traveled all over the country and set several National Records and has won many National Events.
Gary was born in 1947 in Lake City, FL.Currently, he lives outside of Daytona Beach with his wife, Anita. They have two sons, Mike and Mark. Gary owns and operates Gary’s Driveline Service.
He started his racing career in 1967, while still in the Service, driving a D-gasser at the Saturday night quarter mile drags.Upon getting out of the Service in 1970, he decided to try his hand at late model stock car racing.After eight years of working all week at the shop and late nights on the race car, only to be knocked out of competition almost every week by someone else’s mistake (sometimes during warm-up laps), he decided it was time to cut up the Roundy-Rounder and go mud racing.
Gary cut his mud racing teeth with a stock Ford Bronco.Six months later, in 1980, it turned into a ’57 T-Bird (the first Dirty Bird of 8) and took first place at the Putnam County mud races in Palatka, FL.Two more ’57 T-birds followed.At this point, he didn’t do much traveling due to the expense involved.
The next car built was Little Brute, which he raced at Lake City and some close by stadium runs.Then came Brute Strength.Around this same time period. Gary hooked up with a Chevy man named Danny Barber.They built Stroll For Gold, a Jeep Funny Car with a Chevy motor.
A couple of years later, Gary decided to concentrate on one car - his own, so he bought a chassis, sent his fuel system off to be calibrated, and everything came together with Dirty Bird #4.The first pass on the car was a 2.75 in 200 ft. with cut tires.Gary knew right then that he had a good car, possibly a #1 Ford, so he ran as many races as he could afford and did very well, winning five out of six indoor events and one outdoor race in Naples, FL.His winning enabled him to buy an enclosed trailer and finance a new Ford dually tow rig.These accommodations made it possible to extend his range and hit more races.
At the 1992 NMRO season opener in Sylvania, GA, Gary was runner up at 2.560 to a winning 2.511 in the Open Class.He went on to the Tom Bachman Memorial All-Star Nationals in Buchanan, MI and won the Open Class with a Track Record 2.294 (a 160 ft. National Record, at the time). After a roll-over in the shutdown area in Mt. Sterling, KY, Gary was runner-up in the Open Class at the World Championship All-Star Nationals in Phenix City, AL.He took the cut tire win at the All-Star Finals in Fort Recovery, OH with a National E.T. Record of 2.344 and was runner up in the Open Class.This strong finish placed Gary sixth in the Cut Tire Class and seventh in the Open Class NMRO final points standing while attending only two thirds of the events. Gary then upped the ante with a win and the National E.T. Record of 2.029 in the Open Class at the Sun Coast Jamboree Nationals in Naples FL.
In 1995, he went to Carterville VA and walked off with 5 awards - 2.4 & 2.3 Second Clubs, National Winner, National ET Record, Track ET Record in one weekend. Gary kept on his winning ways throughout the 1990’s, and into the next decade, where he and his Ford powered T-Bird, aka Dirty Bird, was a fierce competitor at the NMRO Jamboree Nationals, along with other events around the country.
He then built Dirty Bird #7, a 604 CI Blown Alcohol Ford, with friend and fellow competitor, Tim Wheelus, and was doing quite well.In 2007, Gary had a bad wreck in Bloomsburg, PA that put #7 in the junk yard. He sustained injuries to his left wrist and right leg and his wife said that at 61 years old, it is time to slow down.
After Gary's bad wreck, Mark, his youngest son, along with Tim Wheelus built #8.Then Mark started driving Dad’s Dirty Bird. Mark started out very young driving full body trucks, then progressed up the ladder.
In 2008, Team O’Steen hit the NMRO Jamboree National circuit and won the Class 6 National Points championship and set a National Record of 1.971 seconds in 150 ft. For you Ford fans, with a racing veteran like Gary as the crew chief, and Mark’s driving skills, the 2009 season looks very promising for Team O’Steen.