Swindell Impressive in AWR Star Mazda Test NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa., May 26 - Kevin Swindell, the 16-year-old son of Sammy Swindell who has been turning heads in the O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series and on the World of Outlaws sprint car trail,...
Swindell Impressive in AWR Star Mazda Test
NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa., May 26 - Kevin Swindell, the 16-year-old son of Sammy Swindell who has been turning heads in the O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series and on the World of Outlaws sprint car trail, did the same thing to Andersen Walko Racing's John Walko on Monday.
In March the teen set a new track record in qualifying and then won a USCS feature in only his second race on asphalt with the Wirtgen America Maxim/Kistler sprint car wrenched by his father.
On Monday he drove an entirely different animal, one of Andersen Walko Racing's Star Mazda formula cars, for the first time on the road course at BeaveRun Motorsports Park near Pittsburgh, and thoroughly impressed the team's co-owner and chief engineer.
"He was amazing," Walko said. "He did about 100 laps, all in the wet. We don't have a lot of laps testing at BeaveRun in the rain, but he set the fastest lap our team has ever run there in the wet.
"He did incredibly well for a kid who had never driven a formula car before," Walko continued. "He did everything spot-on, and he was a nice kid to work with. Both of his parents were there, and they were nice too. It was a really good test."
Walko said that Swindell would like to do another test with the team soon.
"We might do another test later this summer," he said. "Kevin just wants to get some formula car experience. He wants to be considered for the Red Bull driver search, and he wants to be in an Indy car on a road course some day."
Swindell's experience sliding a sprint car around a clay oval helped him rather than hurt him as he tackled this new challenge, as Walko said that the young Swindell was one of the best drivers in wet track conditions that he's ever seen. "The whole test was done in the wet. He spun twice, but he never left the track. He just got going again and didn't let it faze him.
"Most drivers go out, do a couple of laps and then come in for adjustments, but he just stayed out there," Walko added. "I didn't think he was ever going to come in. He seemed to be having a good time, and he just stayed out there. I finally had to wave him in."
Swindell said that he had competed in a World Karting Association go-kart event on a different course at BeaveRun once before, but Monday was his first time driving a Star Mazda car and his first time running a race car in the rain.
"I loved it!" he said. "Being that it was the first time in the rain made it even more interesting.
"You have to drive it very smoothly," he continued. "You barely even turn the steering wheel. With the sprint car you have to drive it more with the throttle and off the rear wheels, so this was totally different.
"Halfway through the session we decided it wasn't going to quit raining so we went to a full rain set-up and did a little adjustment, but overall the car was great," Swindell added. "I'd love to run a race in it. It looks like it would be a lot of fun!"
Earlier this year Kevin Swindell became the youngest driver in the history of the World of Outlaws sprint car series to score a top-10 finish in a feature event. He was just 15 when he finished sixth in that event at Paramatta Speedway during his first trip ever to Australia.
Kevin Swindell's father, Sammy, is of course the legendary sprint car driver who has also driven Indy cars and NASCAR stock cars successfully. Sammy Swindell has won the World of Outlaws sprint car title three times. He is the second-winningest driver in WoO history.
Kevin's uncle, Terry Gray, is leading the USCS national point standings as of May 15.
Andersen Walko Racing is one of the top formula car teams in North America. It won the Formula Ford Zetec team championship last year with drivers Andrew Prendeville and Adam Pecorari. This year it is campaigning four cars in the Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear for drivers Jonathan Klein, Graham Rahal, Robbie Pecorari and Pablo Donoso. All four finished in the top 10 in the Star Mazda race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last Saturday, and Donoso and Pecorari were both on the podium.
The team is based in North Versailles, Pa. and Fairfield, N.J.
For more information on AWR, see andersenwalko.com. For more information on Kevin Swindell, see swindellmotorsports.citymaker.com.