Driver Brian Swiger and #7 Ford Thunderbird Fly No More
With great sadness, I must write that the Thunderbird and I have made our last laps together. With a difficult economy, we will be taking the 2009 season off and begin the journey of building our next Ford racecar. It might be a year or it could be five years, but I have every intention to get behind the wheel when the finances allow. I truly enjoyed my four years racing and feel we have some unfinished business.
The Thunderbucket was a difficult car to step into, but with those difficulties we learned a lot about racing and we are excited to design and build a new car based on the full frame Ford Crown Vic LTD. This car is similar to a Monte Carlo, although it is over six inches longer than a Monte Carlo Metric frame and in comparison over 10 inches longer than the unibody Thunderbird Fox chassis. Another major difference from the Thunderbird is the front suspension; we will be going from a McPherson Strut to a double wish bone suspension.
Ford LTD of Mike Rose at Winchester Speedway
The Thunderbird was sold to a buddy of Steve Kent and now I think they jointly own it. The car is at Steve's shop and I do believe it is for sale as Steve has gone back to racing his Late Model. I only sold the car as a "roller," meaning I still own the entire Ford driveline, some wheels, and other hard to find Ford parts that will happily go on the next racecar and save a ton of money. As most know, the last race I had in the Thunderbird the motor blew. It may have blown from old age or even a timing problem. It was a solid motor and lasted over three racing years which is a good life span I suppose. I rebuilt it once and learned a lot. Over the years, I have collected enough parts to build a 351W and along with the driveline that I kept, we are in great shape. About six months ago, I came across an old Hendrick Motorsports frame and cage for really cheap. We will use the cage and interior in our future LTD. I am also fortunate to have a die hard Ford fan at work who is in the beginning stages of saying good bye to his proud 1988 LTD and that may become the donor for our next car. So I am in really good shape from chassis, to roll cage, to interior, to driveline and even to motor to getting back out there, although it still is going to be an investment in finishing the car. I still need items like a seat, fuel cell, pedals, body parts etc. But I am a lot closer rather than starting from scratch. We also hopefully have some reusable parts from the blown 408, so after successfully building and racing the 351W, I might be able to throw a big motor back together for really cheap. Like I said in the intro, it could be next year or it could be five years down the road, it just all depends on finances. But like I keep telling Alisha, I am just so happy that I have these parts in the garage and at least working on this new car makes me feel like I am still racing.
Also, I wouldn't rule out getting back behind the wheel of a car in 2009. I have some really good friends in guys like Bobby and Tony Catlett who might give me a night or two in their cars and that would mean the world to me. Last year in Winchester, I tried to drive Bobby's car with the greatest amount of respect in case that situation would ever come up again. I didn't win the race, but I didn't put a scratch on Bufurd either and hopefully that buys me another race!
closing, I just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped out in
their own way over the past four years. I jumped into racing
knowing nothing and through everyone, I feel I have learned a lot.
I would have loved to win one night and make everyone proud and we
almost did a couple of times, but the breaks just didn't fall our way.
But from where I started four years ago to be challenging for wins on
some nights was a huge accomplishment. We were under-funded,
under-manned, under-knowledged, under-car'd and probably
under-talented, but Don and I always managed to show up at the track
and tried our best. Underbird on the nose was very fitting for
our race team. So I just want to get back out there, hopefully
with a more race-friendly car and put a Ford in victory lane in
Hagerstown- that hasn't happened in a very long time. Don and I
have learned a ton and really want to put that knowledge into the new
car and see if we can't be a bit more consistent. It will also
be pretty proud building our own motors in the future. So I just
need to stash away a few pennies here and there and hopefully take in
some donations and we can be back out there sooner than later because
already two races into the season and its killing me not to be out
there. I miss racing a Ford with Tony and I hate it that he is
out there by himself. I am also missing the weekly battles with
ole' Bobby Taylor, but he better enjoy it while I am away because he
won't be able to keep up with the new car, hardy-har-har.