Connie Swingle, one of the true pioneers of drag racing, passed away Sept. 29, peacefully in his home in Oklahoma City, Okla.,
the city of his birth. He was 72. Swingle had health problems for the
last 10 years and finally succumbed to cancer. His faithful nurse,
Virginia, was at his side.
After serving in the Air Force in the late 1950s, he moved to Tampa Fla.,
and arrived at Garlits Automotive Inc. in 1960 and began welding and
became one of the best welders in the world. Don Garlits' Swamp Rat
III-A had been started, so “Swingle,” as he liked to be called,
finished the project and took the new chrome moly car on tour. Swingle
won many races with the car, the biggest being the Hot Rod Drags at
Riverside Raceway in 1962.
Swingle was instrumental in the success of the Garlits chassis
business from 1961 through 1964, at which time Garlits relocated to Troy, Mich., a suburb of Detroit.
Swingle went west and joined up with the
“Old Master,” Ed Pink. Driving Pink's AA/FD, Swingle enjoyed his
biggest win at Fontana Dragstrip in the fall of 1965, when he beat
Garlits in the final for the Mickey Thompson 200 mph Meet and took home
all the gold, about $10,000, a very large purse for that era.