The Story Behind Shawn Monahan’s “Swaggin’ Wagon” At Thompson Speedway

(Press Release from Thompson Speedway)

Shawn Monahan’s Swaggin’ Wagon in action on Icebreaker weekend at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Thompson Speedway/Clarus Studios)

Race fans that were in attendance for the 45th annual Icebreaker may have been shocked to see Shawn Monahan’s familiar No. 55 Limited Sportsman roll on the track.

Even though the number itself was familiar to many, dating back multiple years in Monahan’s racing career, the body style was something completely different, and something that Thompson fans hadn’t seen in quite a while – if ever before.

Monahan quickly found a nickname for the new body style, and the car itself – the ‘Swaggin Wagon’ – but the decision to actually put the car together required a little bit of discussion with those in the technical department before he could get it done.

“All I really want to go out and do is continue to have fun. I’m so glad that I was able to have the success that I have had in racing, because as I get older, life gets busy,” Monahan said. “In order for me to continue doing it, I have to ensure that I am going to have fun. If anybody ever knows me personally, I fully understand that motorsports is so much more than going in circles.”

“I had asked different people of authority if I could run a wagon for years, and when I spoke with the inspectors over the winter, and I asked if the kids, adults and the fans would like to see something different pull on the track at the Icebreaker. People find something to complain about and some people find something they want to love. I feel like I was successful in gaining attention in a positive way and bringing attention to the division.”

Unfortunately for Monahan, although he is pleased with the reaction from fans, his family and friends, the car itself will need a little bit of work if he wants to get back to Victory Lane.

“I actually had a really hard time out there. I’ve got more rear weight in the car, and I felt it, the car was actually a handful,” Monahan said. “I felt it sliding around a lot more and I was having trouble holding it down.”

Monahan’s heat race ended with damage, and eventually, even though he did work from the back to the front to finish sixth in the feature, he even left that with a little bit more damage.

“For me to have the altercation in the heat, I had tried to make an adjustment to get it better for the heat race and we only got into turn one on the first lap so there was really no way for me to find out what the car was going to be like. I brought the car home Saturday night, and I can’t ever remember doing that for a two-day show – and when I went back to the track, ultimately, I wasn’t happy with the car again Sunday,” Monahan said. “There is an extreme amount of talent in the Thompson Limited Sportsman division. I’ve got a fire inside of me to kick it up a notch from where I was. I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

For Monahan, the racing career dates back many years starting at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, but lately, he’s found plenty of success on the high-banks of Thompson – winning the last two titles in the Limited Sportsman class in two different ways. 

In 2017, Monahan was a master of consistency and didn’t win a race en route to the title, but last year, he dominated the class, winning more than half of the races before clinching a second straight. On top of all of his success, Monahan also races in other divisions — sometimes even at other tracks — across New England.

During the Icebreaker, Monahan picked up the checkered flag in the Exit Realty 375 Sportsman feature on Saturday night. And even though the chassis itself has shown plenty of speed over the years, Monahan always finds a way to give fans a different look for their eyes each year.

“If you look back on the history of the double-nickel, very rarely do you see my car come back to the track the same it did last year. I change my number style, drastically change my colors,” Monahan said. “Purple and white was my very first Street Stock back in 1998 when I won Rookie of the Year down at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. I am an avid fan of older cars, and I currently own a station wagon that I drive on the road now. I just sold a 1962 Impala Wagon last year. Even in the past five years, station wagons are becoming more and more popular.”

For Monahan, the opportunity to work with his son, Brody, who has been driving Bandolero cars, has also increased his drive to succeed. For now, his attention will turn towards getting the ‘Swaggin Wagon’ to handle better, and capture victories, as the 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule continues on May 19, where Monahan and the rest of the Limited Sportsman division will compete in the only extra distance race of the season, scheduled for 30 laps.

“It’s definitely going to be a gamble on how to get the car to stick for the next event,” Monahan said. “We have lives outside of racing, but I’m happy with 10 races. I’m not looking at the points grid right now. My number one priority right now is to have fun, and the second is to get a grasp on what is happening so I can be the best that I can be.”

While Monahan and the remainder of the Whelen All-American Series drivers prepare their cars in the race shop, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is busy preparing for the next NASCAR event, but also hosting various other events during the time in between races. 

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, including those upcoming events, fans are encouraged to visit, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. I had a ball watching that car at the icebreaker!
    I told my son, it made me feel the same way, as the first time i saw a “stagecoach” in the golden era of modified racing. (And yes, he did ask me what a stagecoach was. Hate this getting old crap!) Boy did Shawn appear to have a handful! Great entertainment! Thank you for your efforts Mr Monahan! Hope I see it out there again!

  2. josh paradis says

    try late model body mounts shawn. then the body wont peel off. it was very cool to watch it last weekend.

  3. Takes me back to the Danbury RaceArena. Not wagons but 30’s era slant backs and sedans. They stick out like a sour thumb and people love them.
    There’s a reason they are never seen. High roll center. Good luck taming that beast.

  4. Last time I saw a station wagon race car was Leo Cleary’s T-5 modified, which was a Vega wagon.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    Thought from a fan: I don’t know if rules would allow it, but how about side windows on the right side? Maybe you would have more air to “lean on” when taking the corners.

  6. Viva race fan says

    Love the Woody Wagon. A ++

  7. Bill Sweet says

    I remember Donnie Ayers running a Vega wagon Modified at Thompson.Was very successful with it.

  8. I saw the wagon at open practice, without decals.

    It looks even cooler finished!

  9. If I remember correctly, although not a station wagon, the first “stagecoach” I saw was at Norwood arena. It was white, with gold leaf lettering, “M3”. If memory serves, it was Hop Harrington behind the wheel. My memory may be suspect though.
    Funny, how a purple “swaggin wagon” could bring back so many memories. And I observed something else I felt notable at Thompson when that wagon was out there. All the “little kids” pointing to it and following it because it was different. Now that was cool. I loved watching their reactions to that! Maybe there is a future short track “generation” out there after all!

  10. I loved it. The wagon instantly became one of my favorites in the division. If memory serves me, there was a wagon street stock/hobby stock at Lee about 5 to 10 years ago. The announcer called it the grocery grabber or something like that. It was also an attention getter. Best of luck with that thing, I hope we see it in victory lane.

  11. Don’t forget George Savory in the 21 Vega wagon at Seekonk back in the 70’s. Fast as H E double hockey sticks. Great looking car.

  12. The T-5 was a Pinto

  13. Awesome! I almost remember a wagon back in the day wit 135 on it.

  14. Swaggin Wagon maybe. I’m reminded of Christmas vacation, 1989. The Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Right down to the faux wood paneling.
    Now that the nostalgia angle has been appropriately covered how about some praise for how bold this build was.
    You’re planning on going racing. You want to build a car. You have the skills and money to build a car. You ponder what to build. A WAGON. Are you kidding me? Who does that.
    Who else would have the chops to pull this off? Building it from scratch with no blue print and getting Thompson to go along. Except a local institution with money, resources, looking to have some fun and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Some good cars have been mentioned historically but isn’t it a fact putting more metal up high while turning is never a good thing. Not to mention the aerodynamics that may be a factor on a fast track like Thompson. So why even try it?
    If anyone can get the family truckster to the podium it’s Monahan. And unlike many of his other accomplishments that get kind of routine it will be extremely popular. In fact it’s more like self imposed handicapping just to see if he can do it.
    You seeing this Stafford? From your rules:
    “No convertibles, station wagons”
    Why not allow station wagons. If you’re creative and/or fool hearty enough to build it why stop it from being on the track. Everyone would pull for the family truckster.

  15. Love it… I call shotgun for the road trip to Wally World. Hey Shawn, where can I pick up a “Swaggin Wagon” t-shirt?

  16. Crazy Larry says

    I”ll be looking for a shirt plus a hoodie! $$, best car i seen in a long time .

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