Dylan Swinehart: Racing Grandpa and Family

Dylan Swinehart: Racing Grandpa and Family

When Dylan Swinehart (pictured in the No. 81) races in the modified class at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, some of his stiffest competition comes from his own family.

Dylan’s grandfather, Ray Swinehart (pictured in the No. 33), and uncle Kevin Hirthler, battle him on a weekly basis. His other grandfather, Dennis Bailey, owns his ride. Dylan’s brother, Decker, currently races in the sportsman division, but modifieds are on the horizon. It’s apparent that this family spends their quality time in the garage and at the track.

“[Two weeks ago], in a heat race, my uncle Kevin was on the pole [and] I was on the outside,” Dylan, 19, of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, said. “My grandfather, Ray, was inside second row, behind me. Talk about excitement. I’m the kid and it’s their mission to school me.”

Uncle Kevin won that heat and the feature. Dylan crashed. He turned left to avoid an accident and guess who was in his path? Grandpa Ray.

“Racing with my grandfather is a lot of fun, even though we race each other harder than any other competitors on the track,” said Dylan. “What can I say? It’s a family thing. After driving into him, I didn’t talk to him that night. I’m waiting for him to come over my house now, and I’m a little nervous.”

At age 68, Ray is still a contender. Over the course of his 45-year career, he has won two of Grandview’s signature events — the Freedom 76er and the Forrest Rogers Memorial four times — and two track championships. Ray attributes his longevity in the sport to paying close attention to proper nutrition and exercise. Dylan provides Ray motivation to remain healthy and behind the wheel.

“It’s special to race with your grandson, because it doesn’t happen that often in racing,” Ray, of Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, said. “Most grandfathers are not in good enough shape to drive a modified when their grandson is ready to race in the division.”

Being an active racer himself helps Ray offer his grandson lessons in racing relevant to today.

“Dylan asks me for my advice and listens to what I tell him,” said Ray. “I even let him drive one of my cars a few times.”

Ray said his grandfatherly guidance as a racer consists of many “little things.” One piece of advice, however, stands out among the rest for Dylan Swinehart.

“The best advice [my grandfather] ever gave me was not to spin my tires,” Dylan said. “I think about driving smoothly every race. That advice really paid off for me. I improved rapidly once I stopped spinning my tires.”