Post a comment

Dale Swanson

(Harlan, IA) – In many ways, Dale Swanson was an engineer before his time. When many drivers raced with little help, it was Swanson who arranged for what many consider to be the first factory backed racing to Iowa. That was in the 1950’s when Chevrolet offered factory support for Swanson’s IMCA Stock Car team and Johnny Beauchamp drove to series championships in both 1956 and 1957. Swanson was perhaps the first Iowa car owner to have two hall of fame drivers as chauffeurs. Beauchamp was Swanson’s driver in the early 1950s, but when Swanson entered a race in which cars, by rule, were required to have fenders Beauchamp refused. Swanson once said, “Johnny told me he wouldn’t drive in a ‘sissy’ race. But, I wanted to race, so that’s when I joined forces with Tiny for those types of races.” Whether the cars had fenders or not, Swanson had two of the best drivers in Iowa at his disposal. Although he didn’t own the car that Beauchamp drove in the first Daytona 500 in 1959, he did own Chevrolets that Beauchamp drove later in 1959, as well as 1960 and 1961. Swanson is listed as Beauchamp’s car owner when the latter posted a win at the old mile dirt track, Lakewood Speedway, in 1959 and again at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville in 1960. Beauchamp and Swanson raced in about a dozen NASCAR events in those days. Swanson had a gift for mechanics; in fact, those who knew him well thought of him as a “mechanical wizard.” He got the racing bug after World War II had ended but soon found that he was more suited in preparing race cars than driving them. That’s when he teamed up with Beauchamp and the raced in the old “hot rod” class. They became instant winners across Iowa and Nebraska. Swanson switched to coupes in 1950. Soon, Swanson had two cars – one for Beauchamp and another for Lund. Swanson and Beauchamp entered IMCA racing in 1955 for car owner George Short and they won their first series race on August 16 at Denison, then won again on August 21 in Wausau, Wisconsin. They won six times that season, then won back-to-back IMCA championships in 1956 and 1957, winning a remarkable 43 races during that first season, then winning another 32 races in 1957. Also in 1957, Swanson built a car to race on the beach at Daytona Beach, Fla. Dale Swanson was born on February 22, 1910 and passed away on January 28, 1996, just a month away from his 86th birthday.