October 26, 2005

Today in Automotive History

1955 Birth of an outlaw racer

Sprint car racer and record-holder Sammy Swindell was born on this day. The second-winningest driver in Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series history, with 229 "A" Feature victories, Swindell holds the record for Chili Bowl midget championships, compiled the first clean sweep in Outlaws history in 1995, and is the only driver to win "A" features at two different tracks on the same day--at the New York State Fair Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway on October 12, 1991. In 1998, Sammy broke the single lap world record at the Springfield Mile when he ran a 24.719-second lap over a one-mile oval at 145.637mph. Among the most thrilling forms of automotive racing, sprint car racing also features arguably the most unique type of racing vehicle. Nearly 800 horsepower of power, displacing 410 cubic inches, is crammed into a stripped-down frame where any part that doesn't contribute to the car's performance, including driver's comfort, is left off. With a power-to-weight ratio comparable to a Formula 1 racer, the lightweight sprint cars are constructed for one of the toughest arenas in racing: tight half-mile dirt or clay ovals that demand frantic steering and hair-raising sprints from the sport's daredevil drivers. But the most recognizable part of a sprint car is its five-foot square aluminum wing mounted above the roll cage. The wing provides negative lift that sticks the sprint car to the track, increasing its pace to perilous levels in excess of 100mph. First developed in the 1960s, winged sprint cars were opposed by sanctioning bodies like the USAC, prompting the formation of the independent World of Outlaws tour in 1978. Sammy Swindell won his third World of Outlaws championship in 1997, his first since winning back-to-back titles in 1981 and 1982.

Posted by Quality Weenie at October 26, 2005 08:05 AM | TrackBack

The Northeastern Supermodifieds, with their extreme offset engines are more unique than sprint cars.

Posted by: triticale at October 30, 2005 05:14 PM