The Northeast Mini Stock Tour announced on Sunday afternoon that Shawn Swallow, driver of the No. 04NH, and his brother Jamie Swallow, driver of the No. 4NH have been suspended from competing on the four-cylinder tour indefinitely. This announcement follows an altercation in the pit area following the second NEMST Triple Crown event held at Waterford Speedbowl (CT) on Saturday evening.
Following a long night of racing, which didn’t end until nearly 11pm ET, tempers flared after NEMST series promoter Bob Guptill called the top-three drivers – Toby Wells, Shawn Swallow and Emerson Cayer – into the series trailer to discuss an on-track issue that night between Swallow and Cayer.
Wells was brought into the meeting because Guptill felt as if there was still some bad blood between Wells and Swallow following an incident during the season-ending event at Riverside Speedway (NH) in 2013. He had hoped the meeting would put an end to that feud.
During the meeting, which took place as the clock neared midnight on Saturday night, Guptill told Swallow that he thought he was driving “harder than he had to and was overly aggressive” throughout the 50-lap event on Saturday evening.
“He was throwing it three of four-wide, he was all the way down on the apron dipping his third tire into the dirt, and if he was running with a guy he would give them a light tap to move them out of the way,” Guptill told Speed51.com. “Shawn didn’t cause many cautions, but he had a lot of avoidable contact throughout the entire event. It was nothing we could really penalize him for but it was stuff that we don’t want to tolerate on a regular basis.”
“Coming out of turn-four on the very last lap, the 04 (Shawn Swallow) punted the 88 (Cayer) relatively hard and sent the 88 sideways. He almost got the wall, but was able to save it although he fell to third, almost fourth. In victory lane, Shawn and Emerson were walking back to their cars and were arguing and yelling. I told them it weren’t going to happen out there and that we’d talk in the pits.”
During the post-race meeting, Swallow felt as though he was unrightfully accused of rough driving and he took exception to that.
“Basically, he made everything look like it was my fault and made me look like the bad guy,” Swallow told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He blamed everything on me and tried putting me on probation.
“We weren’t rough at all. We did get into the 88 (Cayer), but that was because of 15 to 20 laps of being chopped. I was under him multiple times and backed out and backed out. He knew we were faster than him and that’s why he was doing that to hold me behind him. I think I gave him plenty of chances and when he did it the last time, I just stayed in the gas and he came down into me and got himself sideways. In my eyes, he kind of screwed himself out of it.”
Following the post-race meeting, Guptill placed all three drivers on probation in an attempt to clean up the on-track product to avoid possible driver injuries and/or damaged equipment in the future. None of the three drivers were fined, disqualified or penalized for their actions on Saturday night.
Both Guptill and Swallow told Speed51.com that all three drivers went back to their pit areas following the meeting to complete post-race technical inspection. At that time, Guptill informed the top-five teams that they would need to pull their clutches and flywheels as part of the post-race technical inspection process.
This is where the stories really begin to differentiate.
According to Guptill, Swallow’s father, Jamie Swallow, Sr., called Guptill over demanding that things needed to be handled. At that point, Guptil told Speed51.com that Jamie Swallow, Sr. put a finger on Guptill’s chest saying that he would pull his $1,000 sponsorship of the June 14 event at Riverside Speedway (NH) unless Guptill straightened the matter out immediately.
“I told him I didn’t need his sponsorship and that if he didn’t like it that he could load his car and go home, but at that point in time he needed to pull his clutch out,” said Guptill. “He said, ‘No we’re talking.’ I said, ‘No we’re not. You need to pull your clutch out or load up and go home.’ At that point he spit in my face and I pushed him back when he spit in my face. When I pushed him, one of the boys, I don’t know if it was Shawn or Jamie, came over his shoulder and attempted to punch me.
“It was just mayhem after that. Their entire family, they had probably 15 to 20 people there, were facing off against my officials. The top-five drivers and teams in tech were able to break it up and set a lull between everybody until the Speedbowl officials could get there with the police to remove them out of the pit area.”
Swallow’s recollection of the story was different than Guptill’s, stating that the NEMST promoter threw the first punch at one of his crew members.
“My father went over and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a question for you,’” said Swallow. “Bob got in his face and said, ‘I asked for clutches, I want you to pull your clutch out.’ My Dad’s like, ‘I have a question for you first, can you answer it for me?’ At that point, Bob started screaming and yelling and threw a punch at one of our crew members. That is when everything started falling apart. The promoter of the tour is the one that started it all and threw the first punch.”
Guptill told Speed51.com that he did push Jamie Swallow, Sr. when he got spit on, but said that he never threw a punch nor was on the receiving end of a punch during the altercation.
When the indefinite suspension for the Swallow brothers was announced by the Northeast Mini Stock Tour, Shawn Swallow said that he took it with a grain of salt while explaining that he wouldn’t be returning to NEMST competition regardless of whether he was suspended or not.
“We were done before the fight even started,” said Swallow. “We were loading up and going home. “Right now, as of this point, we have both of our Mini Stocks for sale. We’re going to buy some Riverside cars to run our local track in New Hampshire.”
Guptill told Speed51.com on Monday that Shawn Swallow and his team were also suspended from competition during the 2012 season after a similar incident at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.
Unfortunately, for the Northeast Mini Stock Tour, the post-race altercation in the pit area on Saturday night put a black cloud over an otherwise successful event that saw 40 cars attempt to qualify.
“There were definitely some tempers flaring and a lot of cautions, but there was also a ton of really good racing,” said Guptill. “There were a lot of cars running really good lap times with each other. We had 15 to 20 cars running within two or three-tenths of each other.”
The Northeast Mini Stock Tour will return to action on Saturday, June 14 at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, New Hampshire. With the loss of sponsorship from Swallow & Sons Concrete, JCS Trucking, and A&N Pressure Washing, all of which are companies owned by the Swallow family, Guptill is currently seeking out businesses interested in sponsoring the additional $1,000 purse for that event.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51. Photo Credit: Lisa Berard, XSP Images