ROSSBURG, Ohio – Daryn Pittman never wanted to stop racing; he just wanted to explore other avenues and prepare himself for life down the road.
That’s exactly what the 2013 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion is doing in his first season away from the cockpit full-time.
Announced last week, Pittman and his wife, Mandy, have acquired ownership of Texas-based Ultra Shield Race Products, expanding upon his well-known passion for safety in sprint car Racing.
Pittman the businessman will be busy working on seats, belts, tear-offs, and other aspects of the industry from Monday through Friday, but Pittman the racer still has a burning fire to compete within inside of him on the weekends.
He’ll fulfill that desire by competing in a 20-25 race schedule with Kevin Swindell’s No. 39 Swindell SpeedLab team.
It’s a part-time schedule centered around crown jewel events, but it all gets started this weekend with Eldora Speedway’s #LetsRaceTwo weekend on May 7-8, where Pittman hopes to deliver a first-career World of Outlaws victory to Swindell as a team owner.
“A big goal of mine in this whole deal is to be the guy that gets Kevin his first win as an owner,” Pittman told the Passing Points Podcast. “I think he’ll end up with plenty down the road, but I already stole two of them from Christopher [Bell] and I don’t feel bad about it whatsoever. Truthfully, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be successful.”
A project months in the making on both ends, Pittman was finally ready to tease his schedule after the news became official.
“I’be been in contact with Kevin really since Chili Bowl back in January,” Pittman explained. “We knew the Ultra Shield deal was coming, so that’s why were vague for quite awhile, but Kevin was more than happy to work with us. It’s not a lot, but it’s the races that are important to us both.”
The element that makes Pittman most comfortable with his new arrangement is his faith in knowing Swindell will bring a competitive car to the track.
“I need to focus on my job and this business from Monday to Friday,” Pittman said. “I need to be able to show up and just drive, and I know Kevin can bring that whenever we unload. His stuff is fast everywhere they go. Hopefully we’re fast right out of the gate at Eldora.”
Making their debut together at Eldora almost seems like the perfect match. Swindell’s No. 39 recently sat on the pole position of the Kings Royal with his father Sammy Swindell at the wheel, and Pittman himself has quite the record at the Rossburg, Ohio, half-mile.
Across thousands of laps in 127 starts at Eldora, Pittman has collected four World of Outlaws wins, including two of the most special victories of his career: the 2003 Historical Big One and the 2008 Kings Royal.
On the flip side, the Owasso, Okla., native is taking care of business and getting to work before he has some fun this weekend.
“As we speak, I’m actually gluing up some window nets,” Pittman joked. “It’s a little overwhelming, but we’re excited for the challenge. It’s exciting because you know I’ve been a customer basically my entire career, I’ve been sitting in their seats I think since 1999. I know them very well and I’m passionate about the safety side.”
It all goes back to 2002 when a crash at Hollywood Hills (N.M.) Speedway left Pittman sidelined with a broken back. In what he described as a “relatively easy, dumb crash,” he broke his T-4 and T-5 vertebrae. That’s where Dave Sharpley came into the picture.
“Dave is actually one of my best friends and his whole business [Sharp Advantage Safety Products] started around me breaking my back,” Pittman said of Sharpley. “He was actually working in IndyCar at the time with Andretti Autosport. In trying to find a way to prevent stuff like my injury, we tried stuff that winter and poured an insert into an aluminum seat using what the IndyCar guys do. Since that day in 2002, I haven’t driven a race car without it.”
While still planning his move and settling into the new operation, Pittman’s spring racing schedule will be relatively simple, with Eldora Speedway this weekend followed by, possibly, Knoxville Raceway’s World of Outlaws doubleheader on June 11-12.
All four days of Kings Royal week, July 14-17 at Eldora, the prestigious 60th running of the Knoxville Nationals from Aug. 11-14, and the elusive National Open on Oct. 1-2 at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway are the main attractions on Pittman’s limited schedule.
Other options like Pennsylvania Speedweek and the 360 Knoxville Nationals could come to fruition as well.
It’s an ever-moving project as Pittman prepares for his next chapter in looking ahead to his business at Ultra Shield.