Disproving the adage about old dogs and new tricks, 60 year old dirt track icon Sammy Swindell looked right at home behind the wheel of the Bertrand Motorsports Esslinger powered Lindblad/Drinan at Star Speedway on Saturday night. In addition to being Swindell’s first race in New Hampshire, it was his first in a pavement Midget and his first in a winged Midget. It’s also been so long since he raced any type of car on pavement that, after pausing a few moments to think about it, Swindell chuckled, “It must have been quite a while ago, because I don’t remember it.”
Despite his new found rookie status, Swindell was second fastest in hot laps, advanced from seventh to third in his heat and from fifth to fourth in the feature, against the best that NEMA has to offer. Along the way he went wheel-to-wheel with teammate Todd Bertrand and held off a charge from two time and defending Champion John Zych.
“The guys did a good job; the car never missed a beat and never had any problems. It’s nice to be able to just come in and drive something like that. The car was good all night, but towards the end of the feature it started getting way tight.” Swindell told AARN.
Fresh off a win in the 360 Knoxville Nationals, Swindell, a three time world of Outlaws Sprint Car Champion and five time Chili Bowl winner had at least a couple of reasons for expanding his racing horizons.
“Tim Bertrand has been good to me in letting us borrow a motor for Kevin’s Chili Bowl car. He asked me about coming up here and I felt I wanted to pay him back for helping us out. Plus it was something that I hadn’t done before and I wanted to try it.”
Asked if he’d like to race with NEMA again, Swindell replied, “I would for my part, but that’s up to a lot of other people too.”
The only cloud on the horizon occurred during testing on Friday at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The rear end failed and had to be replaced on Saturday morning.
Car owner Bertrand was ecstatic after the race which, in addition to Swindell’s fourth place finish, saw team cars driven by Randy Cabral and Todd Bertrand finish first and third respectively. “It was a great night for the team and for NEMA,” Bertrand said. “Sammy is a super nice guy and a pleasure to work with as a car owner. “