BELLEVILLE, Kan. — Kody Swanson’s run with DePalma Motorsports between 2014-18 made them the most successful USAC Silver Crown pairing in the history of the sport.
In fact, Swanson and DePalma’s 21 wins and four championships together in a five-year span are second to none.
Five years ago, it seemed as if the days of the iconic white and red-lettered No. 63 were gone forever. The team had retired from the sport at the top of their game, and with that, USAC made an unprecedented decision in permanently retiring the No. 63 from use in Silver Crown competition.
While the number 63 itself won’t be returning anytime soon to the racetrack, as it turns out, a major part of the 63 team will play a starring role in the upcoming Silver Crown season for Swanson and the Doran-Binks Racing team he drives for.
Over the last two seasons in 2021-22, Swanson and Doran have teamed up to run solely on the pavement. This year, however, the team initiated plans to add a dirt car to the stable. But one major factor remained unresolved. They needed a dirt car.
That’s where the 63 comes in.
Some years ago, a friend of Swanson’s acquired the last DePalma Motorsports No. 63, which ran throughout the 2018 season. With it, his plans included taking it on the vintage racing circuit.
After a half-decade, however, the car remained set in place, just a phone call away. When the time came, Doran-Binks Racing reacquired the very same Maxim chassis and frame, bringing the car out of “retirement” to race again throughout 2023 for the first time since it left the track at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in September of 2018.
In that time, much has changed all around us. But a few things have remained the same ever since. Swanson is still winning USAC Silver Crown races at a record clip and he’s still capturing championships. Also, his dirt car has not changed its features either, just its stripes, with Mission Foods sponsorship and a big and bold 77 adorning the tail tank and nose.
“There’s so much of it that’s the same,” Swanson explained. “It’s got a new look, a new number and new vinyl on it, but most everything else is exactly the same.”
Being the car he raced to his fourth career Silver Crown championship, Swanson retains a special fondness for the machine, which he recently got behind the wheel of for a test and tune at Eldora where the team got some laps in and made sure everything was in working order.
“The car ran in one my favorite dirt Silver Crown races ever at Terre Haute that year,” Swanson recalled of the 2018 dirt season opener. “We had engine troubles, missed qualifying, then changed an engine. We started from the tail of a 12-car field in the B-Main and got second. Then, we came from the tail and into the lead in the feature and got wrecked, then came back from the tail again and got second. That was the first race on that car, and in our next race with the car, we won our fourth Hoosier Hundred.”
Like a pair of worn-in shoes that just feels right, the situation brings an air of comfortability to Swanson, not only with the car itself but also with the people it brings along to the team when Swanson was on his mid-2010s roll.
“I’ve been talking to (National Sprint Car Hall of Famer) Bob Hampshire a good bit about it, and Clark Lamme, who was a longtime mechanic with Hampshire, and he’s been coming over and helping out at the Doran shop too,” Swanson said. “Having Clark helping oversee it makes me feel a lot better about venturing into a new discipline for the rest of the team and me getting back into it in that capacity.”
Lamme will go on the road with the team to all the dirt races this season while Hampshire has offered his extensive knowledge over the phone. Kent Wolters, a longtime racer himself and who Swanson raced for with great success in sprint cars, will also lend a hand during the season.
“It’s really nice to have those people in your corner as much as a familiar car,” Swanson related. “Having some good friends be a part of it really helps out too.”