Meet Swift Sparks and Speed Bump, the aptly-named partners bringing Texas-style armadillo racing (sponsored by JazzHR) to the PrismHR LIVE 2018 offsite networking event. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a meet and greet, learn about the sport’s storied history, and get involved in the action.
Veterans in their own right, Swift and Speed carry on their respective family’s legacy in this unusual, fast-paced sport featuring the Lone Star State’s official state small mammal. Their fathers before them spent their lives around armadillo racing, helping grow it from its origins in bars to an attraction now popular at corporate outings and large festivals.
When you arrive at Knibbe Ranch on race day, make sure you seek the guys out—it will be easy to tell them apart. Swift is the animated ringleader with the microphone, drawing the crowd closer with his charm and quick wit. And Speed is a nine-banded armadillo.
Meet the Armadillo Racing Team
About an hour east of Dallas, Swift lives on 30 acres with his Armadillo Racing Team: Speed Bump and his wife Quesa Dillo-Bump; Shelldon Bump, and Marshall Dillo. The four racing armadillos live in a large indoor/outdoor habitat that provides both shelter and a free range enclosure where they can run, hunt insects and dig in a safe environment. Like pigs, armadillos don’t have sweat glands so they need a cool place to escape the Texas heat. Swift’s setup provides that along with a daily serving of a dry food with brown gravy specially concocted for edentates—animals without teeth including armadillos, anteaters and sloths. The feed was originally procured by Swift from the Chicago Zoo.
Swift’s armadillos are rescues and under his care—away from speeding automobiles and ranchers who take offense to the holes the ‘dillos leave in their wake—their expected lifespans are up to triple what they would be in the wild. Gentle animals, they don’t bite and tolerate being picked up by their human handlers.
A Brief History of Armadillo Racing
According to Swift, armadillo races first appeared at hoedowns and bars in the 1950s. Folks would catch their own ‘dillo, place a wager, and see whose animal scampered across the line first. The activity became a mainstay at carnivals and festivals across Texas for years.
A man named Sam Lewis began offering a formal armadillo racing package for events, and forty years ago Swift’s father began working with him. That’s how an 8-year-old Swift got involved in the game—first feeding and caring for the animals, before moving on to run the show himself. (Interested in booking Swift and his team? Contact The Sparks Agency.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your ‘Dillos!
So, what can you expect on race day? As Swift told me, it’s best seen and not described. But I did get him to share a trade secret on the best way to coax your armadillo toward the finish line.
Blow in their ear. You heard it here first.
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Swift and his racing team when you’re at the ranch. See you in San Antonio!
Not registered for PrismHR LIVE? You don’t have much more time to saddle up—registration closes June 5. Register Now >