3–1 SUPERMODIFIED: Three tires on the right, one on the left

Supermodifieds have always been the most unique short track cars around. They are front engine, rear engine, side engine, with 2 wd or 4 wd. You name it, and it has been tried. The car built by Ken Reece was completely different. Ken is a great welder, builder and fabricator. He is also a dreamer. Ken has always had a love for circle track racing, go-carts, midgets, sprints, supers and Indy cars.

Ken wanted to build a car that would run on the outside groove of a pavement oval. With all the other supers hugging the bottom groove his car could go right around them on the outside, like a sprint car riding the rim.

In 1979 Ken started building his car. Three wheels on the outside, the front and back tires for steering and the center one for power. The opposite side was where the tire on the inside was also for power. The engine was a 494 cubic inch ZL-1 aluminum Chevy out of an old McLaren Can Am car. With fuel injection the engine produced 850 hp. The power train from the engine is direct drive to a quick change rear end sending power to the two center tires.

The frame was hand built out of aluminum and aircraft tubing. Ken built the frame without any blueprints or drawings. The car was built to be the lightest weight possible. The total weight of the car was a little over 1,300 pounds.

The brake system was disc brakes with drilled rotors with aluminum hubs. The cooling system was a triangular shaped radiator that was almost horizontal. Fresh air for the radiator came through fins in the nose of the car.

Steering was from the front and rear tires. They would turn in opposite directions when you turned the steering wheel. For example, with power steering when you turned left, the front wheel would turn left and the rear wheel would turn right.

Traction was provided by Goodyear racing tires that are 20 inches wide. To top it all off, the body was hand made out of .020 inch thickness aluminum. Hand formed with a fin coming off the rear of the car. The car had no spoilers or wings.

Now came the necessary testing. Ken asked his good friend, Tim Richmond, to give it a go. Tim was an excellent driver both in NASCAR and Indy cars. First testing was at Honda TRC testing facilities. Here there is a track that is a half mile circle with no straights. The car was so fast that the G forces loosened the strap on Tim’s helmet. The car ran very smoothly. Another part of the testing facilities is a 7 and half mile oval. After changing the gears in the quick change Tim hit the big track. After 4 laps and not going over 7,000 rpm the car was clocked at over 200 mph. Back in 1979 that was rare, only a couple of Indy and NASCAR cars that went that fast.

The next stop was Sandusky Speedway, a half mile high banked oval. With very few adjustments Tim took the car out and broke the track record. It is still an unofficial record even to this day. Ken and Tim were ready to tackle Oswego Speedway, but word got out about how fast Ken’s car was and before the start of the racing season the governing body changed the rules to be a little more specific: no rear engine cars, and “the supermodified must have four wheels- left front, right front, left rear, right rear”.

There are men that are geniuses who build cars that are better than others. Then they race and are so much faster than their competitors and for some reason they get banned. Ken dismantled his 3-1 car using what parts he could for a sprint car and crushed the original car. I wish Ken could have raced his creation, but, to be banned before it is even raced is just not right.

MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI

After my story on the movie American Graffiti, I toyed with the idea of writing a second story—one about the sequel to American Graffiti, More American Graffiti. That movie was good, of course, just not as good as the original. So, where were you in ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, and ‘66? I was in Southern Oregon, not yet old enough to drive.

More American Graffiti was filmed in 1979, the year my son was born. It was not as big of a hit as its predecessor and only grossed 15 million dollars. Other movies that year grossed 10 times that much.

The movie was broken up into several stories. The stories covered drag racing, the Vietnam war and the protests, San Francisco and the hippie movement, and a rock and roll band. Well, let’s get to the story you and I would be most interested in: John Milner, drag racer. Milner’s yellow ‘32 coupe was more of a stage prop throughout the whole movie. The Milner character is a local drag racer with a home built fuel rail dragster. The big New Year’s Eve race is coming up with the “Factory Team” showing up, looking for a new driver. John Milner (Paul LeMat) looks to beat the Factory Team and win the championship and possibly a new driving job. So, here we are at the dragstrip. This was actually a real dragstrip, the Fremont Raceway in Fremont, CA. Now, I can say that I’ve been there. Back in the same time frame of the movie, the mid ‘60s, my Uncle Tom took me to my first drag race. We watched the early flip top body funny cars. It was great. Speaking of the original Fremont Raceway, how about the original starter, Chet Carter, was the starter for Fremont for 30 years. Also, the announcer in the movie was Steve Evans. In real life, he was an announcer and reporter covering the NHRA drag racing for TNN, ABC and NBC.

Now, let’s get down to the cars. Milner’s rail in real life was the Don Long top fuel dragster. The “Factory Team” car was one belonging to Pierre Poncia, who raced until 1971, right there at Fremont. Other cars that were involved were a custom body Corvette, a 1957 Chevy 210, a Willie’s straight front axle dragster, and several period correct slingshot dragsters. There were vintage shots with drivers wearing open face helmets and fire suits with respirators on each side of the face covers.

Almost all the same actors were in this movie except Richard Dreyfuss. Harrison Ford traded his four wheel vehicle, a ‘55 Chevy, for two wheels. He was a motorcycle cop for a quick scene. Oh, yeah, Ron Howard had hair. Speaking of Harrison Ford, that will lead us into trivia and bloopers for both American Graffiti and More American Graffiti. Harrison Ford initially turned down the American Graffiti movie because he was offered $485 a week. This is less than he earned as a carpenter at the time and not enough to support his family. When the offer was upped to $500, he accepted, and the rest is history. More bloopers from American Graffiti: Richard Dreyfuss’ Citroen is a 1972. A red Mustang is parked across from Mel’s Drive-in (in ‘62?). A white Toyota Corolla was at an intersection. A 1973 Olds Cutlass is also seen at an intersection. Toad’s (Charles Martin Smith) crashes his Vespa at Mel’s Drive-in. This was an actual accident that happened and was kept in the film.

More American Graffiti had its share of trivia as well. In the setting during the Vietnam War a protester burned his draft card with a Bic lighter. Bic lighters weren’t made until 1973. An orange Plymouth race car had a Chrysler Direct Connections Logo on the license plate. That logo was not made until 1972. At the track, the radio sign was showing its call letters KYA-FM. Back then it was an AM station. Cars at the track: there was a 1970 yellow Chevy Camaro and a black 1970 Chevy pickup. Also, someone was wearing a tee shirt with a ‘70s Camaro on it.

One thing I thought was interesting was that some of the scenes not at the track were split screen or multiple screens of the same picture, just like the movie Grand Prix.

Overall, the movie was good. I enjoyed the vintage slingshot dragsters and the music from when I was growing up in those years.

Visit with the Voyteks

You would think a writer for this newspaper would be prepared. You know, always having a notepad, pens and camera on him, ready to take down any information to store away for possible future use. Yeah, about that…so here we go by memory! You also may know “old guys” memories may not be so good.

My friend, Steve Veltman, called and asked if I would like to meet him at the Voyteks’ shop in Scio. I have known Bernie and Jimmy Voytek for several years. I have been out to their shop before. The shop is like a shop out of the sixties. It is so cool. It has old posters, race car photos, mostly of cars Jimmy and Bernie have worked on or cars that they have raced themselves. Steve brought his vintage supermodified to have the Voyteks check it out and set it up for races. As Steve and I stepped into the shop, it looked like nothing had changed since the last time I was there. Bernie and Jimmy’s shop is one that specializes in race car repair, prep and restoration. Like I said, the shop is old fashioned. There’s room enough for one race car, work benches, and old plastic models on the shelves on the wall. Again, it is so cool.

Jimmy and Bernie not only repair race cars, but they also race dirt and pavement sprint cars as well as offset supermodifieds. After standing around talking races we went out back behind the shop. There they had several enclosed race car trailers that contained sprint cars and an offset super.

As we BS’ed, one of the stories was about a time when Jimmy and Bernie sold an offset supermodified to a racer that ran at Willamette Speedway. To my knowledge, (some days there’s not much of that left), the racer took the super frame and engine and put it in a wedge shaped outlaw superstock to run at the speedway on the dirt. I hear the car did not do very well. Sometimes you just can’t take a car meant to race on pavement and try to make it work on dirt!

Back to the shop. There was a race car with a great history. Bernie and Jimmy were restoring Billy Vukovich III’s supermodified, the “Spirit of Madera.” Billy drove this car for several years until he stopped racing supers in 1988 and went on to race Indy cars. The car was assembled. They were down to getting the correct colors to paint the car. They had to go through old racing magazines to get the correct colors and then to paint it. They had to get the specifications on the different wings, and suspension modifications. I had heard several years ago that they had Billy’s super, but now to see it was something else. Who would have thought that our small Oregon town like Scio, population 983 last count, would have such a piece of racing history? It was hard for me not to drool on Billy’s super. To see it up close and personal—it was an honor.
We had a great time talking about racing and the different tracks that the Voyteks had raced at as well as the different cars that they had worked on. I had a great day there. Even though I wasn’t really prepared, you can still get great pictures with your phone!

Things I Miss: Events Canceled Due To The Corona Crap

If you are a car guy or girl, you probably feel the same way I do-lost! Missing car shows, cruise-ins, and races. This is not about what you see on TV. You can watch races on TV and that is just about the only thing that is getting me through this pandemic crap.

I am talking about going out and entering your hot rod, muscle car or classic in a real live car show or cruise-in. You know, a chance to show off your pride and joy. When I would go to shows I had a chance to talk to people and show what I have done to my car and how we built it. You could go with friends and show your cars together. You can’t with the pandemic crap. You would sit around under the pop-up shade tent and shoot the bull, then walk around the show to see if there is anything new or maybe someone has done something new to their ride. Not with this pandemic crap. I know that there have been cancellations of cruises and shows, but, there have been shows that have been put on with a drive- through theme. You can, at least, see the cars this way.

Locally, the biggest race, the Portland Grand Prix Indy car race was scheduled for September 11-13. They canceled it back in July. I hope the race comes back in 2021 if this plague is over with by then. I was really looking forward to seeing that race.

Some of the local dirt tracks are racing, but with no spectators. You can buy a pit pass and walk through the pits and watch the races from the pit stands. You can at least get your racing fix that way, through the pandemic crap.

In case you have not noticed in the story is I really do not like this pandemic crap. Now, don’t get me wrong, I obey the new rules and I wear a mask faithfully. I appropriately do the social distancing- 6 feet apart. I know it’s a really serious disease and not a hoax and it could be fatal to me if I were to get it. BUT- I don’t have to like this pandemic crap.

One last thing that I really miss is the swap meets that I would go to and participate in. I love walking through swap meets and seeing what people have for sale- cars, car parts, posters, books, clothing. Like I have said before if you are looking for something you could probably find it at a swap meet, whether you are a buyer or seller. You have time to chat, see friends, make a new friend and, again, shoot the bull. Pandemic crap! I guess I am just a car guy and a people person. I like talking to people especially about cars and racing, not pandemic crap! So, let’s get together, mask up, wash your hands (especially after working on your car!), and keep 6 feet apart so we can beat this pandemic crap and get back to the stuff we love!

THE LAST RACE

The last supermodified race at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon Oct. 6, 2007

First, I must say that I am getting older and the memory is not what it used to be. This story is written from my memory, my photos, what I saw, what I heard and the Internet. We all know what’s on the Internet is the truth.

This race was advertised as SMRA Supermodified vs. Winged Sprint Cars. There were 14 race cars there. There were five winged sprints cars and nine offset supermodified cars. There were several veteran drivers plus one who seemed to be a very young man. This young man whom I didn’t know his age or his racing experience was Nick Tomlinson. It turns out he was 12 years old at the time of this race, driving a winged 360 sprint car. When I saw him on the track, it looked like he was driving by looking out the side of the car as if he could not see over the hood. He did seem a lot shorter than the other drivers. At the drivers’ meeting, it was determined that he would start in the back of the main event. As the leaders caught up with him, he was to pull off into the pits. That is what I overheard at the drivers’ meeting.

The heat races were excellent with a combo of supers and sprint cars. The main event was all set with SMRA rules that inverted the top eight qualifiers. This put Kyler Barraza, driver of a sprint car, on the pole. This was followed by top west coast super drivers Jim Birges, Troy Regier, Rick Veenstra, Martin McKeefery, Brian Ware among others like top sprint drivers Matt Hein, Andy Alberding, Gary Davis, and bringing up the rear, Nick Tomlinson for a total of 14 starters.

At the start Barraza took off with the rest of the supers and sprints. Battling in the pack, Regier and Veenstra moved up to 2nd and 3rd. On lap 25, Veenstra got loose and went for an off track excursion. There was a yellow flag, Barraza was leading and Regier was second. It was a battle for the lead. I watched Regier making moves on the inside, on the outside, trying his best. By the end of 40 laps, Kyler Barraza was the winner. This was only the fourth time that a sprint car has won this race in 20 years. Kyler was the first driver with a 360 engine to win. After all that great racing, I don’t remember seeing Tomlinson pulling into the pits, but he must have because I didn’t see him at all after the first few laps.

Some people say supermodified racing is dead on the west coast. I don’t think so. A few weeks ago, in Meridian, Idaho, there was the JP Memorial Classic Supermodified Reunion with cars and drivers from several west coast states. I would call that the drop of the green flag, the revival of supermodified racing on the west coast.

1970 Mac’s IT Rotax Special — Four Engines, Four Wheel Drive

The Can-Am Racing series was an open comp, run what you brung. There were cars that were very successful such as McLarens and Porsches. Then there were cars that were creative. The AVS Shadow with its tiny tires ran, but always seemed to have problems. The Chaparral 2J, was built with a snowmobile engine connected to a fan to suck the air out from under the car in order to create a vacuum. It ran so well it was banned.

These were cars that the designers and builders thought of outside the box. In that time came Jack Hoare, an ex-Shelby American engine builder and crew worker. Jack raced in the Can-Am series in an older McLaren that was Ford-powered. He thought, “How about lighter with better traction?

How about 4 smaller engines, located at each tire, for better weight distribution and better traction?”

The car is sponsored by Mac’s Super Gross Company manufacturing chemicals, products for automobiles, hand cleaners and other items. That is where the name came from. In the name MAC’S IT, the IT comes from Innovation Racing with Jack Hoare.

The car was built around four two-cylinder, two-cycle 775cc Rotax snowmobile engines producing 110 hp each for a total of 440 hp in a car that weighed approximately 1200 pounds. The four engines have two in the front and two in the rear. With a complicated drivetrain system, centrifugal clutches come off the engine’s driving belts through a variable ratio pulley system. These connect to a modified VW transaxle that provide power to the wheels. The same system on both front and rear engines are connected together by a balance shaft. There were problems with push me, pull you action and trying to get everything synchronized. The car did have some power loss due to the drive system.
Now comes testing, at the Orange County Speedway which is a dragstrip. The team set up cones on the strip to resemble a road course. Just about every time test driver Hiroshi Fushida would accelerate hard the balance shaft would twist and break with a loud bang. They eliminated the balance shaft, so the two front engines and the two rear engines ran separately from each other. This made the car more reliable but still had the synchronization problem.

Off to the races: the Can-Am race at Laguna Seca. With a few practice laps the car stayed together, but it was smokey and noisy, sounding like a herd of chainsaws. Now came time for qualifying. The driver Hiroshi Matsushita recorded a lap at 1 minute 29.4 seconds. That was 18.6 seconds behind the slowest qualifier. The pole-sitter was Vic Elford with a time of 58.8 seconds driving the Chaparral 2J. At that rate, Hiroshi would be lapped by the leader about every three laps. The Mac IT Special did not qualify for the race and, unfortunately, the Mac IT was never to be seen again.

Even though it did not qualify, it just goes to show the ingenuity of people like Jack Hoare that think outside the box. Others that try something different don’t do as well as everyone else and some do far better than expected. Oh, by the way, one car that did far better was the Chaparral 2J , the sucker car that was later banned from racing.

Spectator

I have been to many races in my lifetime, but very few as just a spectator sitting in the grandstands. I have always been involved at a race, such as part of a pit crew, taking photographs, or gathering info to write a story.
The first 10 years of my life I was raised in Santa Clara, Calif. My family has always gone to circle track races. On Friday nights we would go to the Alviso Speedway, a ¼ mile dirt track. Then on Saturday night, we would go to San Jose speedway, ⅓ mile high banked paved oval. My uncle was part of a pit crew for one of the hardtops that raced at both tracks. This was back in the late ’50s through the early ’60s.
So I guess you could say that racing was in my blood. Back then I was a spectator, sat in the bleachers with my family and cheered for our favorite drivers. Even back then I would go into the pits with the family after all the racing was over for the night. I got to look at the cars up close and personal and even got to sit in a few.
In ‘62 the family moved to the City of Rogue River in southern Oregon. My love of racing never died, but at that time it was put on hold. From then until my high school days I would take a week or so in the summer and go back to San Jose to see my uncle and go to the races at San Jose Speedway.
It was then my hands-on involvement started. Throughout the week my uncle would take me with him to the shop where we worked on a couple of hardtop race cars. As a little guy, my job was not much. Wash parts, thread on bolts by hand, holding things in place. Then we would go to the races. My uncle would be in the pits and I would be back in the stand with the family as a “spectator”.
Back in Oregon I worked pumping gas at a local service station that sponsored a stock car that raced at the Posse Grounds Race Track, a ¼ mile dirt track in Medford. I am back getting my hands dirty and loving every minute. The team would race in Roseburg and Medford. I was in the pits not in the stands.
As time marches on I grew up, got married and raised a family. In time I moved to Albany Ore. Now selling auto parts, I met Brian Drager, now one of my very good friends. He is a driver and a race car builder. I helped at his shop and in the pits as I could. It was a great time in my life.
Then came a change. I had developed a love for photography. I was not in the stands, I was in the infield of the tracks. I took photos all over the west coast for Racing Wheels Newspaper, Open Wheels Magazine, and now Roddin’ and Racin’ NW Newspaper. I got to be in the infield, in the pits, and even in the flagman’s stand to take photos. Most recently I was able to travel to Indy.
I still enjoy watching the races from the stands. About five years ago I was asked to come along to the races at Willamette Speedway by some close friends that knew very little about short track racing. They kept asking when was “the big one”? You know the multicar pileup that always seems to happen in Nascar. Later that evening 3 cars spun out and I told them that was the big one! As I sat in the stand I enjoyed answering the questions from the rookies.
A couple of weeks ago I went back to Willamette Speedway with another one of my friends, Steve Veltman. My, how things have changed. It is a beautiful racing facility. I also found out that a couple of friends of mine worked there. The flagman Jeff Morrison has been a friend for many years. He does a great job of keeping the races going on the track. Another friend is Joel Imamura, the announcer. I understand this was his first year announcing. He did a great job keeping everyone up to date as what was going on at the track. While I was at the race I decided to write a story about it. I was without my camera so I took photos with my phone, not great, but, better than nothing.
I have been very fortunate in my racing life. Helping build cars, being on pit crews, photographing and writing. The last race for the season I was a spectator and I loved it.

Albany Antiques in the Streets and Classic Car Show

Downtown Albany, Oregon always seems to be busy with the carousel and all the quaint little shops and antique shops. However, one Saturday in September the downtown is overflowing with cars, people, vendors and antiques.

The Antique and Car Show is the place where you can see and buy the toy cars you had as a kid and the classic cars you want to have as an adult. One of the phrases I have heard over and over again is, “I used to have one of those.“ Now that could go for the old tin cars and truck toys as well as the classic hot rods, trucks and muscle cars.

One of the most beautiful hot rods was a ‘32 Ford roadster with black paint and purple flames and a blower coming out of the hood. The paint job was beautiful—gloss black with purple flames going clear down the side of the car. It is owned by Ted and Judy Johnson from Prineville.

When was the last time you saw a real original Woody? A 1950 Ford Woody station wagon owned by David Krumwiede of Albany. The neat thing about this was about two blocks down from it was a steel toy woody with surfboards that looked just like it—with the exception of the surfboards!

A classic Red ‘56 VW bug owned by Gail and Greg Ashbeck was matched by a yellow VW Bug ragtop toy model in booth two or three blocks away.

The streets of Albany were lined with antique and crafts booths, cars, trucks, and a ton of people. One thing I saw was an old rusty pedal car that looked like an early Mustang. I walked a few blocks down the road and there was a beautiful fully restored Mustang pedal car on display in front of a matching real ‘66 Mustang.

The phrase, “I used to have one of those“ holds true for me. For more than 20 years, my son and I have owned and are now restoring a real ‘65 Mustang Coupe. It is for my son and my grandsons when they get old enough to drive. I just need to get the toy for me!

Portland Cars and Coffee

It has been said before that almost every weekend in the Portland and Willamette Valley area there will be a car show. This is a story about one that I have never been to: Portland Cars and Coffee.  This is held at World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville every Saturday morning throughout the summer.

With a great variety of cars, mostly high dollar exotic cars, the show was very different than shows in the Albany area. Cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Cobras, Masseratis, Vipers, Corvettes, Audis, and an imported Ultima GRT.  The turn out of cars was great.

When you stand there admiring cars and taking photos you get to listen to owners talk about their cars. Michael Pierce from Portland came to the show in his 1967 Corvette Stingray. He has owned the car since 1980, and has kept it all original except the vintage mag wheels. The Vette is a daily driver, with a 435 HP 427 engine, and has 225,000 miles on it.

Just down the row was an Ultima GRT, from Tiger Eye Racing, owned by David out of Portland. It looks like something out of the 60’s running LeMans or Can Am with a mid engine 500HP Chevy V8 and a Porsche 6 speed transaxle. This is a true kit car, imported from England in pieces, except the engine and transaxle.  David has run it at PIR at speeds over 150MPH. He is in the process of building a GRT roadster.

One of my favorite cars was a home built silver roadster sports car, now this car looks like it came right off the track at LeMans in the 50’s. It is a front engine, rear wheel drive.The whole body is made out of hand formed aluminum. With a 1974 Corvette chassis and a Chevy V8 engine.the hood covers the whole front of the car and opens like an old XKE Jaguar. Owner Ray Parks said it took 7 years to build and it is a true work of art.

Tom Hendrickson is the proud owner of an original, unrestored, 1964 Cobra. The Cobra is a truly unrestored car. With chips in the paint, shift boot gone and tattered upholstery, it is still beautiful. Tom has owned this car for 53 years. Talk about a true daily driver, from 1966 to 1972 this was the only car Tom had, so he drove it in the rain or shine. The car has original chrome wire wheels, a 289 Ford V8 engine and a dual exhaust that sounds great.

The show was like the old cruise-ins, no entry fee, no judging, no trophies, just great looking cars coming and going all morning. What I liked most, though, was listening to the owners talking about their rolling pride and joys.

Davey Hamilton: A Hero in My Eyes

Have you ever had someone you met a long time ago, never to see them again for more than 25 years? The only connection you have is to have read about him in newspapers, magazines and seen him on TV. This story is about me and Davey Hamilton.

Back in 1987 I started taking photos of supermodifieds here in the Northwest. That is how and where I met Davey, a shaggy blond haired kid in an offset supermodified at the Portland Speedway. At first introduction it was clear that we had a lot in common and got along well. Every track I saw him at he always had a smile.

I followed Davey’s career around different tracks in the Northwest and California. One time a few years later I was working as a volunteer at the Portland 200 Indy car race at Portland International Raceway. The race weekend was always The Open Wheel Spectacular at the Portland Speedway on Saturday night and the Portland 200 on Sunday.

Davey had developed into one of the top open wheel drivers in the Northwest. At the race at the speedway Davey was wanting to meet some of the Indy car owners. Early Sunday morning Davey and I went to the raceway and to the pit/paddock area where he introduced himself to the Hemelgarn Racing Team and to A. J. Foyt. And as they say—the rest is history.

Before we leave the world of supermodifieds here is a little information why Davey is a hero in my eyes. Several years of going to different race tracks in the Northwest, I would take my son, Tim, to the races with me. Every time we would see Davey he would shake Tim’s hand, call him by name and tell him to have a good time. One of the top racers knowing Tim’s name and talking to him is why he is a hero to me. He paid attention to everyone, even young fans.

You have to start somewhere. Davey’s first race car a long time ago was a home built roadster with a 230 cubic inch, 6 cylinder and a 1 barrel carb. He raced at Firebird Speedway in Idaho. From that he went to the powerful offset supermodifieds. Davey’s favorite super was the Trigueiro Motorsports Super. With that car and crew he won 1987, 1988, and 1989’s Northwest Supermodified Racing Association Driver’s Championship. Also, he won the Western States Supermodified Racing Association Championship in 1994 as well as the Copper Classic at Phoenix International Raceway at least twice in the supermodified division.

On to bigger and better things- open wheel racing, Indy lights, CART Indy car, Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500. In order to have the opportunity to try out for the 500 you have to pay. In Davey’s case he traded the homebuilt race car his dad, Kenny Hamilton had used in his attempt to qualify for the 500. In 1982 Kenny’s car, the Eagle Aircraft Special tried but did not make the 500. The unique car caught the eye of Ron Hemelgarn. Ron wanted the car for his museum, The car was traded to give Davey a tryout for the 500 in 1991.

Now for some statistics, Davy raced Indy cars 1991 to 2001 and then 2007 to 2011, though he did not win a race in 56 races he finished second in points in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Davey did race for several different teams throughout this time.
Then came the accident, a wreck involving three other drivers including Davey. He slammed into the retaining wall at the Texas Motor Speedway, crushing both legs and feet. After 23 operations and a long recovery, Davey’s desire to race again at the 500 came true in 2007 through 2011.

Then came retirement, he worked as a radio broadcaster and partnered with several racing associations. He became a race car team owner in Indy cars, USAC sprint cars, King of Wings sprint cars. He was also racing Stadium Super Trucks and back to racing supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway in New York.

With the Indy cars coming back to Portland, I thought I could find Davey, knowing that he has worked for several Indy teams. I put together a photo album of Davey and all the supers he drove throughout the years in the Northwest. Well, he was not in Portland that weekend. He was racing a super at Oswego Speedway.

Going to the Indy 500 this year, I was hoping to see him and I did find him, working for Harding Steinbrenner Racing with car number 88, driver Colron Herta. Davey’s job is a coordinator and advisor using all his knowledge to make the car go faster. Davey was very busy, after all it was the Indy 500.

Davey asked if I could meet him at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. As a car owner he had a USAC pavement sprint car racing there. I did meet up with him and gave him the photo album. We talked about the old days and what the future holds. He says his legs feel great, and as far as the future, he plans to stay involved in racing, Indy cars, team ownership and driving.

Whenever I interview anyone I always ask, “What was what was the first car you drove on the road?” This is where Davey and I have something in common . We both drove our mother’s cars, his mom’s a 1971 Torino and mine a 1962 Galaxie. Also in common we both had minor incidents. Davey ran into the garage door and I went into a shallow ditch. So even heroes are human!