Chapter 2: Kevin Swindell in His Own Words

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Kevin Swindell addressing safety crews at PRI 2015.

So as 2015 ends, it’s safe to say it was the worst year of my life.

Started the year with a 2nd at the Chili Bowl, which in most people’s book that’s a huge accomplishment, but after 4 years on the top of the podium 2nd just isn’t fun anymore.

Spent the next few months bouncing around a few Sprint Car rides with minimal luck, while Bernie got the Indy Race Parts stuff back ready to go again. I Was excited about being back in the 71 at one of my favorite race tracks, Knoxville Raceway, but before we could even get the Nationals started more less I was headed to Des Moines in a helicopter.

A lot of people ask what I remember from all of it.

Everything.

I remember being in the air. I remember landing. And most notably, I remember the instant realization that I couldn’t feel my legs. The idea of being still to not hurt yourself worse in a moment, when all you want do is get the hell out, is excruciating. Luckily I was at one of the best places for a safety crew at a dirt track in the whole country, yet still a lot of time-consuming mistakes were made. Mistakes which I’ve tried since to help the racing community improve upon.

None of which had any effect on my injury, I don’t believe, but things that prolonged a miserable process. The rest was quite smooth from there. The guy that took care of me on the helicopter ride did a hell of job with what all he accomplished, while in the air, in preparing me and keeping me as comfortable as possible. He even offered to pull my suit off rather than cut it, to which I answered “they make more, cut away.”

I spent the next little bit asking some doctors about if it was a teaching hospital and how similar it was to Greys Anatomy. That followed by a miserable hour in an MRI tube, which the small bit of cloister phobia in me loved. From that point on, the next 6 days were spent somewhere between reality and la-la land.

Two different, 8-hour surgeries and a pain button that was press-able every 8 minutes, and boy did I need it. We took a private plane from there to Louisville, thanks to the kindness of Chip Ganassi.

Spent the next couple weeks learning how to sleep with 80 staples down the center of my back until they finally got those out. A few weeks after that, and a lot of learning experiences later, I finally got out of the hospital and into the apartment I’m in now.

Since then things have looked up for the most part. I got engaged to my best friend and the girl who hasn’t left my side for more than a few hours since this happened, Jordan. She has been what’s kept the fight in me, when I wasn’t sure I had it. I’ve spent a good bit of time working with some people to hopefully make improvements in how we get drivers out of the car in bad situations. This is something that I hope will keep someone from ending up like me.

I’ve now gone into business with Indy Race Parts, selling QRC Outlaw Karts and trying to get what I think is the best and safest style of car for a kid learning to race going in the Indianapolis area.

On top of that we’ve gone in together on a Midget, which Kevin Thomas Jr will drive this year at the Chili Bowl. Both of which are things I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be able to help develop and guide up-and-coming kids in the sport. Especially those kids that aren’t as lucky as some to have funding behind them. Hopefully I can use both of these avenues to help in that direction.

I’ve always enjoyed being a crew chief, and hopefully we can snowball this new journey into ownership at the Chili Bowl into something that happens more often. Obviously that stuff requires money, but hopefully we can gather some good people together and make something happen. So if you’re reading this and want some solid-advertisement space, we have some available for Chili Bowl and could find plenty more places to put it during the summer if you’re interested.

With that said, I’ve rambled enough for this one. Look forward to seeing lots of you guys at Chili Bowl. Happy New Year to everyone, and stay safe out there.

Click Here to read Chapter 1: Kevin Swindell in His Own Words

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