It has been said that life was simpler in the 50’s, but that wasn’t necessarily true if you were a drag racer living on the east coast. In those early days of drag racing, Southern California was the home to all the major chassis builders, component manufacturers, and speed equipment retailers that were crucial to the growth of our sport. Walt Weney Jr. and his racing partner, Jim Amole, were two east coast racers who were tired of relying on companies 3000 miles away and Walt decided to do something about it.
In 1959, Walt founded S&W Speed Shop in a small 15 x 20 foot basement of his dad’s sheet metal shop in Spring City. There, Walt put his welding and sheet metal skills to use, first on his own car, then on his customers’ race cars. Through his & Jim’s experience on the track, and at his shop, Walt honed the art of race car fabrication into a precise science and a full-time occupation.
In 1964, S&W Race Cars moved out of the basement and into its new home, a 2,000 square foot, four bay building that housed both the Speed Shop and Walt’s growing chassis business. By 1968 both businesses had outgrown just one building and S&W Speed Shop moved into a new shopping center about a mile away, while the growing chassis business took over the existing building.
In 1973, Walt and his staff of eight full time employees moved both the speed shop and chassis shop, now S&W Race Cars & Components, into a new 7,200 square foot, state-of-the-art chassis shop and retail store. In 1984 S&W, already established as one of the country’s top dragster & funny car builders, purchased the nation’s leading “doorslammer” chassis builder – SRD Race Cars. SRD’s rich history in the construction of full-bodied race cars and the acquisition of SRD’s patterns, jigs, fixtures, and machinery, allowed S&W to expand their product line and become a major force in the mail-order chassis component arena, where it remains today.
February 1988, saw S&W Race Cars move into their current building – a modern, two story, 16,000 square foot facility, situated on five acres of land. The new, greatly enlarged manufacturing area increased S&W’s production capability and the larger shipping, receiving, and warehousing areas, allow S&W to expedite orders quickly and more efficiently. A new, custom computer system was installed to unify the Sales, Purchasing, Production, Shipping & Receiving, and Accounting Departments. Two years later, S&W moved it’s advertising & marketing efforts in-house, for the development of catalogs, sale flyers, advertising, newsletters, and product instruction sheets. Also, for customer convenience, S&W installed a 24-hour FAX line (610-948-7342) and a toll-free order line (1-800-523-3353). An upgrade of the engineering department featuring the latest in CAD workstations and software technology began in 1993. Now S&W has complete, “in-house” control of all components manufactured and sold by S&W Race Cars, as well as the ability to work more closely with outside manufacturers in the design and production of the components of the future.
1994 saw an 11,000 square foot expansion of the manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping department, allowing S&W to again increase inventory levels, increasing availability of parts to the customer. In 1996 & 1997, S&W began an ongoing expansion of our manufacturing capabilities with the additions of a 10′ x 100 ton, CNC controlled, Accurpress press brake, and two custom designed, Flow Technologies Water Jets. S&W’s in-house waterjets will cut up to 5-1/2″ thick aluminum or 4″ thick flat stock with 50,000 psi of water pressure. These two additions have allowed S&W to bring “under roof” the manufacturing of many products formerly produced by other suppliers, further insuring fit & finish quality.
A third piece of the manufacturing plan saw the in-house development of a computer controlled “Plasma Tube Processing Center” which cuts to length and notches mild steel and chrome moly tubing in one step. This new machine has allowed S&W to produce everything from roll bars to complete dragster chassis quicker and has enabled us to hold the line on prices. Most recently S&W has added a Haas TL-15 Turning Center & a Fadal 15XT Vertical Machining Center to their machine shop allowing the in-house production of many small components from tube ends, ladder bar adjusters, misalignment bushings, and housing ends, insuring S&W control of both quality and availability.
In 1997, S&W launched our first website – www.swracecars.com. What began as a primitive “info-only” site has evolved into the current ecommerce capable site of today. Now S&W customers can access product info and instructions, place orders, check latest the S&W news and announcements, check out our winner’s circle photo gallery, and customer car and build up photos, all from the comfort of their keyboards.
S&W entered a new era in 2005 when Walt stepped down as president and named son, Scott, his successor. Under Scott’s leadership and guidance from his siblings, Gary, Michael and Terri, the company continued to expand. Sadly, the Weney family suffered a great loss in November 2014, when Scott passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Scott’s family and the team at S&W stood united and strong, as they were committed to continuing what Walt started 61 years ago. On October 21st, 2015 Michael Weney was voted in to become the next President of the S&W Performance Group. He led the group until February 27th, 2020 when Walt’s daughter, Terri (Weney) Gdowik, was named as S&W’s new President. S&W is equipped to offer their customers, whether next door or around the world – the latest in race car technology.
From a narrowed rear housing, to a complete rolling chassis, S&W Race Cars can meet all your race car needs. S&W’s ever-expanding warehouse holds race car parts of every kind – from rod ends & Dzus buttons, to S&W’s own line of bolt on Camaro & Mustang suspension products. Roll bars & cages, welded rear frames, and rear axle housings, fill the warehouse area awaiting your call. S&W Race Cars can provide you with MIG or TIG welding, sheet metal forming, round or rectangular tube bending, and a full-service machine shop.
Since our first day in 1959, S&W Race Cars has been dedicated to the production of championship winning race cars. Beginning with Walt Weney’s record holding C/D of the early 60’s and continuing to the current Top Alcohol Funny Cars of Alexis DeJoria and Paul Gill, S&W Race Cars’ dedication to winning performance & quality has never changed. On track testing is an important part in the development of all S&W Race Cars products. Not only are our products CAD designed & tested on computers but before we release any new product or incorporate a new design idea into one of our chassis, it is thoroughly tested on one of our house cars.
S&W’s attention to detail and commitment to quality are just two of the reasons racers world wide have twice chosen us Car Craft Magazine, Sportsmen Chassis Builder of the Year. S&W staff members, with a combined 212 years racing experience, have competed in everything from Monster Trucks to Top Fuel Dragsters. Their experience & knowledge is a valuable part of every S&W Performance Group product.
You can trust S&W made components to withstand the abuse you put them through, because we build them to withstand the abuse we put them through!!
Video Tour of S&W Race Cars
Enjoy your visit to S&W’s 27,000 sq.ft. Pennsylvania Facility! Learn about S&W’s Race & Company History, Staff, WaterJet, Machine Shop & Equipment, Capabilities, Services and Savings Programs. Also, see our customers burning rubber & don’t miss ‘Scott Weney’s’ thrilling In-Car camera footage from Atco Raceway.
Credits: Produced by Brian Fish and students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting (Cherry Hill, NJ Location).