08/26 2014

Swindell Steps Away From Full-Time Racing

Swindell Steps Away From Full-Time Racing

Legendary sprint car racer Sammy Swindell will no longer race full time, instead planning only to race in the Chili Bowl every year. (Julia Johnson photo)

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Race fans who want to see Sammy Swindell race may only get one opportunity per  year.

Swindell, a Hall of Fame sprint car driver who has raced for Big Game Motorsports the past four years of his 40-plus year career, isn’t planning to race again outside of the Chili Bowl Nationals every January.

“After the last two weeks of our break from racing I have decided to retire from racing. I would like to still drive my midget at the Chili Bowl,” said Swindell, who turns 59 in October. “I have been thinking a lot about this for the last three months. It has been a hard decision to make. I always knew when the time came to retire it would be clear. I’ve had a long and very successful career. Part of the reason for the timing now is I’ve spent the last two weekends with my son, Kevin, racing.

“I haven’t had any time to spend with his racing the last four years. He will drive a (NASCAR) Nationwide car for the rest of the year and I want to be there to support him. I was going to do a limited schedule next year or retire at the end of this year. I’ve had a long talk with (Big Game Treestands Founder) Tod Quiring and we both agreed that this is the best for me.

“Amy and I would like to thank Tod and everyone at Big Game Treestands for the last four seasons. We would also like to thank everyone who has helped or been a part of my career, my fans and the friends that I have met over the last 43 years,” Swindell said.

Swindell has one of the most well-rounded racing careers at any level. While he had stints in NASCAR and IndyCar, Swindell made a name for himself on dirt race tracks across the country. He earned three World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championships and he ranks second in career wins — 294 — with the premier sprint car series.

Swindell has also claimed almost every major sprint car event, including the Knoxville Nationals, Gold Cup Race of Champions, Kings Royal, Williams Grove National Open, Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, Selinsgrove Open, Western World Championships and Syracuse Super Nationals to name a few.

Additionally, Swindell won an unprecedented two World of Outlaws features on the same day in 1991 and he picked up victories at Bristol Motor Speedway when it was covered in dirt in 2000 and 2001. His five Chili Bowl victories are the most for any driver at the famed midget event.

“We have been fortunate to have one of the greatest racers of all-time compete in our series right from day one,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter. “We wish Sammy and Amy (Swindell’s wife) the best as they move on to support Kevin’s racing aspirations.”

Swindell, who was elected into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2006, started racing when he was 15 years old. Two years later he began a sprint car career that has culminated in more than 600 feature victories and at least one win in every season.

Quiring said that it was an honor to work with Swindell for the last four seasons. He also said he plans to shut down the No. 1 Big Game Treestands team following Swindell’s retirement.

“It’s very difficult for me to know where to start with Sammy announcing his retirement,” Quiring said. “Sammy and I had a long conversation over this past weekend. Sammy has had the opportunity the past two weeks to spend time with (his son) Kevin in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He hasn’t had a chance to do this the past four years. Sammy has given this a lot of thought and has made his decision to turn over a new chapter in his life. I know from having two boys that the amount of time you can spend with them and help them is priceless.

“As much as I have mixed emotions on his retirement I fully support Sammy’s decision and think this is the best thing for him and his family. I know Sammy the race car driver as most of you do, but I also know him as a friend and that will always stay. I can’t thank him enough for what he has brought to our motorsports program. His accomplishments speak for themselves and no one can ever take that away from him.

“With Sammy announcing his retirement I have made the decision to also retire the No. 1 Big Game racing team.”