However, the family origins with racing began with his mother, Lala Byrd. She owned a stock car in the late 1960s, becoming a pioneer for female race team ownership. It wasn’t until 1982 that her son Jonathan started his own race car legacy.
Jonathan Byrd Racing would continue until 2001 with Jonathan stepping away from the sport. His sons, David and Jonathan II, made a brief return to IndyCar in 2005 before returning in 2015. Their father passed in August 2009, five years after suffering a debilitating stroke.
After taking a decade off from sponsoring a race team, brothers David and Jonathan along with mom Virginia (Ginny) decided it was time to return to IndyCar. “We planned to be a part of the 100th Running of the Indy 500, but things evolved faster than expected, so we competed in the 101st,” shares David, VP and Director of Operations for Byrd Hotel Group. “We realized racing is a huge part of who we are as a company and our brand. Therefore, we returned to racing.”
Canton’s Chris Windom finally gets to fulfill a lifelong dream this May, racing on the biggest stage in all of motorsports, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Windom will compete in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Friday, May 25 at IMS, driving for Belardi Racing, piloting the Delara IL-15 No. 33 in his Indy Lights debut. The team is a partnership between Belardi, Jonanthan Byrd Racing and Baldwin Brothers Racing, who own Windom’s USAC Sprint Car team.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity with Belardi, knowing all the success they have had in the (Indy Lights) series,” Windom said in a text message sent on Thursday. “I know I’ll be in good hands for the learning curve I’m about to face. Obviously, with no rear engine racing experience it’s going to be a lot different style than I’m used to, but really looking forward to the challenge!”
“We’re quite pleased to have Chris join our team,” said Brian Belardi, team principal and two-time Indy Lights championship car owner in a news release. “He’s obviously an extremely talented racer with a championship pedigree who has achieved success across multiple grassroots racing disciplines. I know that we are bringing a seasoned racer to our organization and that we will give him the tools that he needs to succeed.”
Windom will be very busy during the month of May, competing in five different racing divisions in seven days of action now dubbed “Windom’s Wild Week,” starting on May 21 with a test session for his Indy Lights ride at IMS. Windom will practice at Anderson Speedway on May 23 for the prestigious Little 500 before heading to Terre Haute, Ind., that evening for the Tony Hulman Classic for USAC Sprint Cars.
Thursday, May 24 will be a triple play for Windom, with Indy Lights practice and qualifying at IMS, Little 500 qualifying at Anderson and the Hoosier 100 USAC Silver Crown race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds that evening. Windom makes his Indy Lights debut in the Freedom 100 on May 25, and then heads to Lucas Oil Raceway Park and the USAC Silver Crown Hoosier 100.
From his childhood in South Bend, Indiana to his days in race control for CART, Champ Car and INDYCAR, motor racing has been a focal point in Jim Swintal’s life – just as it is the focal point of his art. He has spent the past twenty-five years capturing the excitement and exhilaration of some of racing’s most memorable moments.
As a youngster, Swintal absorbed the stories his older brother told after returning from the Indy 500. He made his first journey to the famed Brickyard at age 13 and was instantly captivated by the cars and the speed. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1979, Swintal settled in Chicago as an architect and joined the Sports Car Club of America as a volunteer corner marshal.
“I got involved because I really loved racing,” says Swintal. “I loved paying attention to the spaces between the cars as much as to the cars themselves – one car alone is only a qualifying session; what makes any race interesting are the spaces between the cars and how those are managed. That is what attracted me to race officiating.”
Swintal was content to keep racing as a volunteer hobby until 1990, when he was asked to step in as the Indy Lights Series starter at the first race of the season in Phoenix. Not coincidentally, Jim soon left the architecture profession to create more time to travel to racing events and to make his way as a motorsports artist.
He was appointed CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) starter in 1993 and started 177 races until 2002 when he was promoted to Clerk of the Course, working in race control. In 2010 he joined the race control staffs of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Come race day at this year’s 500, Jim will be busy in race control at his position as Race Control Communicator, broadcasting information to the racing teams and officials via radio regarding incidents, penalties and the status of the race.
Swintal’s job at the racetrack puts him in a unique position to see the racing events unfold, which translates to his artwork – though the two mediums each have their own specific characteristics.
“Notice that race control has the word ‘control’ in it, though who really determines what happens on the track are the drivers and teams. But when I sit at my drawing board, I can control all that appears inside the four borders of my composition.
“I really want to thank the Speedway Centre for the Arts for the opportunity to display my art, right here in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A few of the originals on loan from my Indianapolis clients are here and I haven’t seen them for quite some time,” states the Irvine, California resident. “I’m used to seeing them only one at a time. To see so many together in one place, right here in Speedway, is a huge thrill.”