One of the all-time top drivers on New Jersey’s tough old Flemington-East Windsor Speedway circuit where he won 32 and 27 main events, respectfully, Billy Osmun (December 3, 1943) was a dirt-track specialist who put a lot of effort into his racing. And as a result of those talents he drove several of his era’s top Modifieds and had a great competitive-rivalry with fellow EMPA Hall of Famer Stan Ploski Jr.
A native of Asbury, New Jersey, Osmun was a high school football and baseball star who got the racing bug when he attended local events as a kid. But the laws in the Garden State at that time would not allow anyone to drive in Stock Car races until they had reached the age of 21. So, in 1962, the 18-year-old began a four-year career on the drag strip where he raced Gassers and Altereds before eventually selling that equipment to go oval-track racing.
Osmun bought the 1937 Ford two-door sedan in which Otto Harwi was killed at Orange County (N.Y.) Fair Speedway and turned it into his orange No. 333 “Barn Yard Special.” And in his inaugural Modified race at Flemington in late 1965 he promptly hit the first turn fence and flipped three times.
Undaunted by the experience, Osmun ran the car for the next couple of years and he scored his first Modified victory in his No. 333 Chevy coupe at East Windsor in 1969. He then bought one of Bob Rossell’s old 1936 Chevy coupes and soon began to make more frequent visits to Victory Lane.
By the early 1970s the rugged outdoorsman was the hired gun in the Norcia Brothers famous black No. 81 Black Horse Racing fuel-injected 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet-powered coupes and in this ride he won the 1972 & 1973 Memorial Day 100s at Flemington.
Osmun – who worked for the Otis Elevator Company – also spent some time in Pete Chesson’s No. 76 small-block Chevy-powered Pinto that featured independent front suspension. And he ran several races in Dave Sassaman’s 427-Chevy-powered No. 62 Ford Mustang.
Then in 1974 he signed-on with the Statewide Highway Safety Team and drove its Whip Mulligan-built No. 3 Chevy-powered Gremlin to victory in the first rain-shortened Schaefer 100 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, the precursor to today’s Super DIRT Week 200.
Surprisingly, “Billy O” has just one Modified title to his credit and that came in 1978 at Orange County when he drove the No. 73 Chevy-powered/Gremlin-bodied entry owned by fellow EMPA Hall of Fame member Tony Ferraiuolo to nine victories.
Osmun also put the white and maroon Grant King-built car into the 1978 winner’s circle at Flemington when he triumphed in the Tri-Track 100 and then prevailed in a race-long battle with Kenny Brightbill to win the track’s prestigious National Dirt Track Championship 200 on a hot and humid Memorial Day afternoon.
Plus, he won the July 4th race at Syracuse that year plus the first of his three-consecutive (1978-1980) New York State Fair Labor Day Championships on the venerable one-mile oval.
Osmun’s other major career victory took place in 1979 when he won the Daniel Boone 200 at East Windsor Speedway while driving Joe Scarmadella’s No. 121 Chevy/Gremlin. This late-season classic had been run from 1966-1978 at the old Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds where Osmun won three races in 1975 in the Statewide No. 3. But the 200-lapper was held for the first time at the New Jersey location as a result of the famed Pennsylvania track’s closing in June.
Although Billy Osmun was primarily known a first-class dirt-track Modified stock-car driver and continued to race through 1993, his name is also in the United Racing Company’s all-time record book as the winner of one URC Sprint Car race at Flemington.