Mark Oswald is considered by many as one of the most versatile drag racers of the so-called modern era. The drag racing bug first bid him at the age of 12, when he saw a neighbor’s BB/Altered and fell in love. His actual racing career began in 1972, when he climbed behind the wheel of his B/Stock 1968 Camaro at Edgewater Raceway Park in Cleves, Ohio.
As soon as he was able, Mark, a machinist by trade went to work for Dick Weinle who owned D&J Racing Engines; one of the premier race engine building shops in the area. Weinle took Mark under his wing and taught him the subtleties of building and tuning race-winning engines. It was at D&J that Mark met and became friends with Tom Kattleman. In 1980 Kattleman and Mark teamed up with Ross Thomas and campaigned a blown Chrysler powered top alcohol dragster. Kattleman handled the driving chores for the first year, but by the second year Mark assumed the driving job.
1981 was a turning point in Mark’s career when the team after having success in the alcohol wars, in the early part of the season, switched to competing in top fuel. With Mark driving, they were runner-up at the NHRA Summernationals Englishtown, New Jersey, and runner-up to Candies and Hughes for the IHRA World Championship. Mark’s driving skills impressed Paul Candies and Leonard Hughes enough to hire him as the driver for the 1982 season.
Candies and Hughes provided Mark with first-rate equipment and support talent and the 1982 season proved just how talented a driver Mark was. That year the team won NHRA races in Baton Rouge and Englishtown. It was at the New Jersey event that they set a national record at 5.61 seconds breaking the old mark that had been set by Don Garlits back in 1975. In 1983 they switch to funny car and promptly won two more NHRA national events, four IHRA races, and the IHRA World Championship. That was followed by another banner year in 1984 when they won the NHRA World Championship.
Mark continue driving for Candies and Hughes through the 1988 season, with some ups and downs, finishing number two in the NHRA Funny Car World Championship points race for the third straight year. Candies and Hughes closedown the operation at the end of that year, so Mark assumed the driving chores in Bill Schultz’s, In-N-Out Burger, blown Chrysler powered funny car. This liaison lasted through the end of the 1996 season when Scholz dissolved his operation. Before hanging it up the team had appeared in the victory circle at three NHRA national events. This was also the year Mark decided to stop driving/racing and opened his own machine shop in Houma, Louisiana.
Temptation to return to racing struck in 2000 when John Lawson offered Mark the job of tuning his funny car and Mark excepted. The team was reasonably successful, but with the cost of competing with first-class equipment Lawson closed the doors on his operation in 2003.
2005 Mark excepted the position of crew chief for Mike Ashley fuel funny car team and also acted as Mike’s mentor as his driving instructor. Mark held this position even when Mike sold the operation to Don Schumacher Racing. In 2007 with Mark, Brian Corradi, and Steve Boggs building/tuning and Mike driving the team won the NHRA US Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The 2009 season found Mark sharing crew chief duties on the Don Schumacher Racing top fuel dragster with Antron Brown as its driver. The chemistry between the two co-crew chiefs and Antron began to gel quickly and they won 6 NHRA national events in 2009 and qualified in the number one position seven times. While the team posted dominant efforts over the ongoing years one of its crowning it accomplishments came in 2012 when it won the Top Fuel NHRA Mellow Yellow World Championship. The team returned to the world championship stage in 2015 in a dominating fashion pushing through the six race “Countdown to the Championship” winning the first three races and forging a lead that clinched the title in the next to the last race of the season at Las Vegas.
Throughout his career Mark remained humble and has often given credit to Dick Weinle, Tom Kattleman, Paul Candies, and Leonard Hughes for their help and guiding and preparing him for the success he was enjoying.