Major Lee Sweeney, Sr

Occupation Auto Machanic
Born April 4, 1902 in Virginia
Died April 16, 1993  in Salem, Virginia
Married  in 1924 to Margaret Marie Powell  born October 12, 1906 in Draper, North Carolina

Father: Elkannah K. "Cain" Sweeney born December 25, 1859 in Floyd County, Virginia: Died July 13, 1932 in Floyd County, Virginia

Mother: Ida Lelia Yates born March 20, 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia Died November 10, 1970 in Floyd County, Virginia

Roanoke Times, Apr 17, 1993. SWEENEY, Major Lee Sr., 91, of Floyd, passed away Friday, April 16, 1993, in a Salem hospital. He was preceded in death by a son, Thomas W. Sweeney. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Powell Sweeney of Floyd; six sons, M. L. Sweeney Jr., W. Bruce Sweeney, both of Floyd, Max E. Sweeney of Roanoke, Jack Sweeney of Christiansburg, W. Barry Sweeney of Floyd, and S. Douglas Sweeney of Troutville; two daughters, Daphine Sowers of Floyd, and Cindy Eanes of Ridgeway, Va.; two sisters, Daisy Sweeney

by Wayne Hawley

Not as well known as maybe Curtis Turner, the Sweeney family goes back to the "rough neck" days of racing the old bullrings that were all over in the 50's and 60's. Mr. Major Sweeney was the guru of the flathead engines. I spent many hours with him years ago listening to his stories of building motors for racing as well as other uses. Mr. Major as we all called him told of building motors for folks that he never saw. They would call and tell him to build a motor and then tell him what tree or what stump to put it behind and the money was always there. He would drop off the motor and drive off never knowing who he had built the motor for.
All his sons were great mechanics also. Bruce was at one time as good a driver that ever came down the pike. I remember seeing him run at the old Floyd Co. Speedway as well as Starkey and other tracks. He had nerves of steel and wasn't afraid to trade paint with the best of them. He raced against Glenn Wood, owner of the famous Wood Bros. race team from just down the road in Patrick Co. Bruce had so many different drivers in his cars over the years that I could not name them all. Names like Harry Gant was just one of many.
Barry was and is the engine man now in the family, building motors for his son Jamie as well as a lot of other drivers . Big name builders have told me that Barry could build with the best of them. Tim Richmond was counted as was of his closest friends as well as Darrell Waltrip and many others. Like I said in the beginning, their name was not as big as Curtis Turner but in all respects, they were as good as he was and Jamie still carries the family banner each week at Shelor Motor Mile Speedway in Radford