GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – Many 64-year-olds are either enjoying retirement or gearing up to retire, but not Sammy Swindell.
The Hall of Fame sprint car driver overcame a challenging season to earn one victory, extending his streak of scoring at least one triumph per season during each of the last 49 years.
“I don’t think there’s too many people that can say they’ve done that or come close to that,” he said. “It’s something that was hanging out there and I didn’t want to let it slip. It was great to get that win. It took a little while, but when you’re bouncing around in different cars that’s not the easiest.”
Swindell had one of the lightest and most diverse schedules his career has ever seen. While he only made 25 starts, Swindell competed in midgets, 360ci winged sprint cars, 410ci winged sprint cars and pavement winged midgets. He drove for eight different teams.
“There were a lot of times we had some good runs or good starts to the night, but sometimes things didn’t go right for us,” he said. “A lot of that is working with different people and different cars. I think this year I’ve been in more different cars than I can remember in one year.
“It was a little disappointing that we weren’t able to do the things the way it was planned in the offseason or the beginning of this year, but most all of that was out of my control. I think (the success with so many teams) says a lot for my experience and my commitment to trying to do the best I can every time I go out there. Even at my age I feel I can be competitive. If we could have got more than 10 races in the same car I think we could have had more wins. I’ve been really blessed to have been able to learn so much and still have my health and the things that goes with it to drive these cars.”
A couple of special moments came in the seat of a team owned by his son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Jordan. The Swindell crew led the first 10 laps and posted a seventh-place result during the famed Kings Royal. A month later the team scored an eighth-place outing during the Hard Knox Night of the Knoxville Nationals.
“We went to the Kings Royal and I think we improved every night,” Sammy Swindell said. “We just needed those 10 races before we got there and we really could have been competitive. It was kind of the same at Knoxville. We had some issues in our warm-ups that got us behind. We got some oil in the mag and didn’t qualify well on our preliminary night. At some of these bigger races a majority of your weekend is how you qualify. I think we had a good run going on Friday and would have been in the Saturday main, but unfortunately we had a shock bolt break on the right rear. It was nice to run for Kevin and have some success.”
Swindell is scheduled to compete in one final event in 2019 – the Arizona Sport Shirts Gateway Dirt Nationals Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Dec. 19-21 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Mo. He will pilot his midget during the event.