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Davey Hamilton – Spotter

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.

Eddie Cheever Jr. Diary – Indianapolis 500

From a spectator’s view, this Indianapolis 500 was both bizarre and incredible. Funny, but that was the same view we had at Red Bull Cheever Racing. Bizarre and incredible.

The weather was forever changing, which constantly affected strategy. The race was rewarding because we achieved the best finish by a Chevrolet engine when Alex Barron came home in 12th place.

For the first part of the race, both of our cars ran quite well. Alex had a few problems with balance, but we overcame those. Ed Carpenter was having a great run. In many ways, both drivers probably would have had better outcomes had the race not been stopped because of rain 27 laps after it started.

Right from the beginning, though, it was obvious that Bobby Rahal’s team was carrying on right where it left off in qualifying. Their cars were all incredibly strong. You could tell from the very start that Buddy Rice had what he needed to win the race.

Our cars got progressively better, but then we ran into more of the bizarre — a silly accident involving Ed and Mark Taylor. When you look at the facts, Taylor made a mistake trying to pass someone on the outside in three and then coming down on him. It wasn’t really a smart thing to do on the 64th lap. In one fell swoop, the two Chevy rookies managed to eliminate each other. It wasn’t necessary, regardless of whose fault it was. Again, I can’t reiterate to Ed enough times, if you’re dealing with somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing, avoid him.

Ed and Mark have crossed swords before, but now they seem to have taken it out of the sandbox and onto the playground. I don’t think that’s healthy for either of them and I hope that Brian Barnhart, Senior VP of Operations, puts both of them in a room to watch that tape.

Strategy was vital the whole day. We would rush ahead when we thought it was going to rain, then throttle back and save fuel when we thought it wasn’t going to rain. You’d come in for short fills, then come in for long fills. The strategic part of the race was very confusing throughout the day because of the weather, but we worked our way into position by not getting too carried away. Alex got stronger and stronger as the race went on.

Had it not rained at the end, the results would have changed. A lot of guys short-filled anticipating the rain, and they would have been caught without any fuel if it wouldn’t have rained. But that’s neither here nor there. The fastest car and the fastest driver won the race. That’s the way the Indy 500 should be.

As has been the case in every race Alex Barron has run with Red Bull Cheever Racing, he has been a money player. He works very hard right from the beginning to make the car fast in the race. During the race, he gets the most out of what he has. In this case, the most he had was a 12th-place car.

We were very strong in the middle to the end of fuel runs. We could run in traffic, but there’s no way we could lead. We have a lot of catching up to do, but we have the elementary aspects of it perfected. There were a lot of people — good, established teams — who seemed to have problems with the bare basics. Luckily enough, our team is well-prepared. When you don’t fail at things, you don’t realize how important they are. When you feel good every day, you don’t realize how bad you would feel if you broke your little finger. Until it actually happens, of course.

There were a lot of things we did very well. Our pit stops were good, our strategy was good, and our fuel efficiency was good. We could gain fuel if we needed to, and we could spend it if we wanted to. Our strategy regarding the weather turned out right, although there was a fair amount of luck involved in that. All of the auxiliary pieces that have to be working at 110 percent in order to win races were working very well for us.

We were very happy with the balance of our race car. Other teams had a lot more trouble with their cars than we did. When you see cars coming in and out of the pits repeatedly — wing in, wing out, wing in, wing out — it doesn’t really bode well for the decisions they made about setup. Our Dallaras were well-prepared and we had the right setup.

In all, it was an amazing 500, and I was pleased with the outcome of the race. I would have had a hard time watching Helio Castroneves climb the fence again. I was glad that an American driver won. Buddy and I didn’t part on the best of terms last year, but we had spent a lot of time with him and were pleased to see him win. I have grown tired of people saying there aren’t enough American drivers in this form of racing. No American-born racer had won the Indy 500 since my win in 1998, so I was proud of the fact that an American finally won it again. When I rewatched the race on television and saw the smile on Buddy’s dad’s face as his son grabbed the checkered flag; that’s what racing is all about.

Rahal Letterman Racing had a superb month. Buddy won the pole, the pit-stop competition and the race. He was the fastest and most aggressive guy out there, and he didn’t make any mistakes. It would have been a travesty if he wouldn’t have won, because he was pacing the race the entire time. It was a great win.

There were so many different emotions involved in this 500. It stopped and started and then stopped again. The rain was coming, then it wasn’t coming, then it was. The reactions to that, and the spectacular racing because of it, made for one of the more entertaining Indy 500s in history.

You work the whole year to wake up with that magic feeling the morning of the Indy 500. It’s one of those anything-can-happen events. For us, the “anything” was both good and bad. What we’ll take out of this are two things: Pride in knowing we have mastered the basics, and determination in knowing we have to get faster.

Red Bull Cheever Racing Welcomes John Younger

Indianapolis, IN (June 4, 2004) – Red Bull Cheever Racing welcomes John Younger as the public relations intern for the 2004 summer. “I see this as one of the best opportunities for work experience that I’ve had yet,” said Younger. “The team has been so welcoming since day one, and I can’t wait to use my writing skills and sports knowledge for real on-the-job projects.”

His main duties will include writing news stories and taking photography for the website, writing pre and post-race reports, coordinating media events and requests, and maintaining the schedules of drivers Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter.

Beginning this fall he will be completing his last year at DePauw University where he is a Communications major and also a three-year starter on DePauw’s baseball team.

When considering his dream job, he confesses to a career in baseball operations, but only if he was working for one team.

“If I had the opportunity to get involved in baseball operations, I would only want to work for the Oakland Athletics because they are such an innovative team,” the 21-year old Younger said. “They have to compete with teams that have three or four times their budget, which forces them to be very creative with the way they do business.”

Until that dream job comes knocking down his door, he’s learning the inside scoop on public relations in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series. There was no better place for him to get his feet wet than this year’s running of the 88th Indianapolis 500.

“My first two weeks on the job were two of the most amazing weeks of my life, yet at the same time the two craziest,” laughed Younger, the Indianapolis native.

Growing up an avid participant in many sports, he considers them a necessity in his daily life.

“I’ve always loved anything that was competitive, because I think it brings out who you really are as a person,” Younger explained. Sports are a direct parallel to life in that there are always going to be highs and lows.”