Davey Hamilton is trying to find his niche in racing by doing a little bit of everything.
A little TV work here, some work as a spotter there, ownership of a sanctioning body and a race track. … You name it, Hamilton has probably done it.
His duties with Red Bull Cheever Racing include working as a spotter for Ed Carpenter. Observing the racetrack from high above, Hamilton serves as the eyes and ears for Carpenter, communicating with the driver of the Red Bull Cheever Racing No. 52 Chevrolet-powered Dallara by radio.
For Hamilton, runner up in final IRL IndyCar Series standings in 1997 and 1998, his adventures in 2004 are just a few steps along the path of deciding what role he intends to pursue in racing.
“I’ve got so many things happening in my life right now,” Hamilton explains. “I’m actually enjoying this. It’s the next best thing to being in a cockpit. I have the series, I have a track, I am working with a team. As a driver, I never really paid attention to the mechanical workings of a team, so I’m learning. I’m just soaking it in and deciding where I want to land. Whatever I ultimately decide, I want to go into it with both feet. I want to focus on one thing rather than having a lot of little things going on.”
One of those adventures involves operating a sanctioning body — the Supermodified Racing League — that stems from Hamilton’s past. One of the country’s most accomplished supermodified racers, Hamilton used the skills gained by driving the unusual machines to advance to Indy cars.
Now, Hamilton’s SRL and its sister series, Davey Hamilton’s Wild West Late Model Shootout, are two of the top touring series in the West, developing stars of the present and future.
“In the supermodifieds and the late-model series are pretty much premier divisions for those series,” Hamilton said. “The late-model series is similar to the NASCAR Southwest Tour, while the supermodifieds are one of their own — the fastest short-track cars in the world.”
Supermodifieds are open-wheel cars with chassis offset to the left and large wings that create tremendous grip. They are popular in the West and Northwest, including Idaho, where young Davey Hamilton became one of the nation’s most accomplished supermod racers in the 1980s and 1990s.
His involvement doesn’t end with the sanctioning body. Hamilton also operates Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho, along with his father, Kenny. The track offers weekly racing in nine divisions, including sprint cars, mini-stocks, street stocks, modifieds and, naturally, supermodifieds and late models.
A native of nearby Boise, Davey Hamilton is proud of his family’s leadership in the regional racing scene. “Dad stepped up to make sure everybody has a place to race,” Hamilton said. “The racing in Idaho is very strong. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished there.”
His work as a spotter, though, is his latest passion. After working as a commentator on TV and radio broadcasts of IRL IndyCar Series races, Hamilton is putting his knowledge to a more specific use: Guiding one driver around the racetrack.
“I did it for two reasons,” Hamilton said. “One, I think this is a great team. Second, I think Ed Carpenter is a great driver. I think he’s going to be really good. Being able to help Ed out in a positive way will help to move him along quickly and get him through the learning curve speedier and safer. Standing up above and spotting after a career as a driver is a big advantage. That’s where I think Pancho Carter did such a great job, and Tom Sneva is up there now. You’re seeing as lot more people with racing experience doing this now. There’s a reason for it, I’m sure.”
And, for Davey Hamilton, there is a reason for his many adventures. He’s looking for his place.
“I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can venture out and do a lot of different things,” Hamilton said. “Indy cars are at the top of the list, and I would like to be more involved with the team. I’m also interested in doing more TV and radio, as well. That’s where my main focus is for the long-term future.”
It’s a future, it seems, that could go anywhere.