Bobby Hamilton

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This article is about the NASCAR driver. For his son, see Bobby Hamilton, Jr.. For other people, see Bobby Hamilton (disambiguation).
Bobby Hamilton
Bobby Hamilton.jpg
Hamilton in 1998
Born (1957-05-29)May 29, 1957
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Died January 7, 2007(2007-01-07) (aged 49)
Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, U.S.
Cause of death Head and neck cancer
Achievements 2004 Craftsman Truck Series Champion
Awards 1991 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
371 race(s) run over 15 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
9th (1996)
First race 1989 Autoworks 500 (Phoenix)
Last race 2005 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 (Atlanta)
First win 1996 Dura Lube 500 (Phoenix)
Last win 2001 Talladega 500 (Talladega)
Wins Top tens Poles
4 67 5
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
86 race(s) run over 12 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
11th (1989, 1990)
First race 1988 All Pro 300 (Charlotte)
Last race 2005 Federated Auto Parts 300 (Nashville)
First win 1989 Commonwealth 200 (Richmond)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 22 0
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
102 race(s) run over 11 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
1st (2004)
First race 1996 Hanes 250 (Martinsville)
Last race 2006 John Deere 200 (Atlanta)
First win 2000 NAPA 250 (Martinsville)
Last win 2005 UAW/GM Ohio 200 (Mansfield)
Wins Top tens Poles
10 54 5

Charles Robert "Bobby" Hamilton, Sr. (May 29, 1957 – January 7, 2007) was an American stock car racing driver. A driver and owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit and the winner of the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now Camping World Truck Series) championship, Hamilton owned Bobby Hamilton Racing. Hamilton's son, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., was also a NASCAR driver.

Hamilton may be best remembered for two of his Winston Cup wins. His first career victory at the 1996 Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix was the first win for the #43 Petty car since Richard Petty's last win in 1984.[1] He also had a memorable win at the Talladega 500 in April 2001 driving the #55 car for owner Andy Petree. The entire 500-mile race was run caution-free and was under intense scrutiny from both NASCAR and the media at large, being the first superspeedway race run since the death of Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500 two months earlier. A physically and mentally exhausted Hamilton slumped to the ground after exiting his car and was given oxygen from a tank before giving the standard post-race Victory Lane interview while sitting on the ground, leaning against the drivers door.

Short track roots[edit]

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Hamilton quit school at the age of thirteen[2] and began his racing career at Nashville Speedway USA, now Music City Motorplex, racing on the weekly circuit at the legendary track, where he won the track championship in 1987. Hamilton began to be noticed within the NASCAR ranks after racing in a special four-car "Superstar Showdown" at Nashville in 1988 against Winston Cup drivers Sterling Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, and Bill Elliott.

NASCAR career[edit]

Days of Thunder[edit]

Hamilton broke into the Winston Cup ranks in a very unusual way. He was asked to drive one of the "movie cars" for the 1990 film Days of Thunder, qualifying fifth in a movie car at the 1989 Autoworks 500 in Phoenix, in a car that was not intended to be competitive. The car was the #51 Exxon-sponsored machine, portrayed in the movie as being driven by the character Rowdy Burns.

In 2006, Kyle Busch, at the time a driver for Hendrick Motorsports, which fielded the movie cars, drove a Billy Ballew Motorsports truck in the Craftsman Truck Series featuring a "throwback" paint scheme visually echoing Hamilton's car from that movie. It was raced at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2006, in support of Hamilton, who was undergoing cancer treatment. The name on top of the door on Busch's truck was listed by the nickname "Rowdy Busch" (clearly referencing the Rowdy Burns name on the original car), and won the event.

After Busch departed the team, BBM kept the paint scheme, uniform design, and #51 for their Camping World Truck Series campaign as the reverse number to their regular #15. After BBM closed its doors in 2011, Busch took the number to his own team Kyle Busch Motorsports and continues to run the "Rowdy" decal in races he is in the truck.

1988–1994[edit]

Hamilton made his NASCAR debut in the Busch Series in 1988 at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving his own #16 Chevrolet, finishing 14th. He ran the next race at North Carolina Speedway, finishing 20th. He drove full-time in 1989 driving the #8 Lighting & Fans Buick for FILMAR Racing. He finished 11th in points and won his only career Busch race at Richmond International Raceway. He also made his Winston Cup debut in a "Days of Thunder" car owned by Hendrick Motorsports. He led five laps but finished 32nd after an engine failure. He matched his 11th place points finish in 1990 with FILMAR, when he was promoted to Winston Cup full-time. He drove the #68 Country Time Lemonade Oldsmobile for Tri-Star Motorsports, posting four top-ten finishes and narrowly defeating Ted Musgrave for Rookie of the Year.

In 1992, he only had two top-tens and dropped to 25th in points. He began 1993 with Tri-Star but was released early in the season. He spent the rest of the season in the Cup and Busch Series, posting two top-tens for Akins-Sutton Motorsports. Hamilton also made 5 Busch series starts in the #05 Key Motorsports Chevrolet. In 1994, he joined SABCO Racing, driving the #40 Kendall Motor Oil Pontiac Grand Prix. He had just one top-ten finish and left at the end of the season.

1995–2002[edit]

Hamilton's 1997 Winston Cup car
Hamilton at Martinsville in 1997

For the 1995 season, Hamilton moved to Petty Enterprises to drive the #43 STP Pontiac. He posted ten top-tens and moved up to fourteenth in the final standings. The next season, he finished a career-best 9th in the standings and won his first race at Phoenix, and the first for Petty Enterprises since 1983.[3] He also formed his own Craftsman Truck Series team and began competing in the series part-time. He won in 1997 at Rockingham, but departed the team after falling to 16th in points.

He signed with Morgan-McClure Motorsports in 1998, and in their eighth race together, he won from the pole at Martinsville Speedway. He ended the season tenth in the points. He had another ten top-ten finishes the following season, but after falling to 30th in points in 2000, he left for Andy Petree Racing, drive the #55 Square D Chevy. He won his final career race at Talladega and finished 18th in the standings. He posted three top-tens in 2002, but suffered a broken shoulder late in the season, causing him to miss several races.

Although his Cup Series run in 2000 was not successful, he made history regardless as he joined Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte, and Mark Martin as one of the drivers that to that point had won a race in each of NASCAR's top three series when he won a Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville.

Craftsman Truck Series[edit]

Main article: Bobby Hamilton Racing

Due to the injury as well as an unstable financial situation at Petree Racing, Hamilton left the Winston Cup Series for the Truck Series driving for his own team, taking the Square D sponsorship with him. Driving the #4 Dana Dodge Ram Hamilton picked up two wins in his first year on the circuit and finished sixth in points. The following season, he picked up four wins and clinched the championship, marking the first time since Alan Kulwicki's championship in 1992 that an owner-driver won a NASCAR championship. He switched to the #04 in 2005.

In 2005 he started his Truck series season by a bizarre NASCAR finish. During the final laps of the 2005 Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona Speedway Bobby Hamilton led. Jimmy Spencer got by with a few laps left and the white flag flew just before a crash occurred in turn 1. Just during the accident Bobby Hamilton passed Jimmy Spencer for the lead. Due to the scoring loop rules before the accident it was initially believed that Jimmy Spencer won. Spencer drove to victory circle but not long afterwards it was determined that Hamilton won; Hamilton was at the final scoring loop as he was in the lead.

Bobby Hamilton later won at Mansfield and went on his way to another sixth-place points finish.

He drove the #18 Fastenal Dodge for three races in 2006, but was diagnosed with cancer and never raced again, with his son finishing out the season.

Illness and death[edit]

On March 17, 2006, Hamilton announced that he had been diagnosed with neck cancer.[4] He took part in the Craftsman Truck Series race that night, before starting therapy the following Monday.

Kyle Busch paid tribute to Hamilton two months later for the Truck race at Lowe's Motor Speedway by driving a truck painted to resemble the Rowdy Burns car in Days of Thunder, complete with the #51 and "Rowdy" decals, a tribute that Busch continues today in late model and truck racing.

Hamilton returned to the track for the race at Kentucky Speedway, overseeing his team's operations. Knowing he would not be well enough to drive in 2007, he hired Ken Schrader to drive his #18 Fastenal Dodge for the full 2007 schedule while Hamilton was to continue his cancer treatment. Hamilton died of neck cancer on January 7, 2007, at his home in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee with his family by his side. He also died the day before his son's 29th birthday.[5]

Career results[edit]

* Season in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series[edit]

Year Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Avg. Start Avg. Finish Winnings Position Team(s)
1989 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 32.0 $3,075 89th #51 Hendrick Motorsports
1990 3 0 0 0 0 17.7 35.7 $13,065 66th #68 Tri-Star Motorsports
1991 28 0 0 4 0 22.4 19.9 $259,105 22nd #68 Tri-Star Motorsports
1992 29 0 0 2 0 24.1 22.3 $367,065 25th #68 Tri-Star Motorsports
1993 15 0 0 1 0 24.1 24.4 $142,740 37th #68 Tri-Star Motorsports
#38 Akins Motorsports
#20 Moroso Racing
1994 30 0 0 1 0 26.9 24.0 $514,520 23rd #40 SABCO Racing
1995 31 0 4 10 0 16.6 16.8 $804,505 14th #43 Petty Enterprises
1996 31 1 3 11 2 19.9 16.5 $1,151,235 9th #43 Petty Enterprises
1997 32 1 6 8 2 23.2 19.6 $1,478,843 16th #43 Petty Enterprises
1998 33 1 3 8 1 26.7 17.0 $2,089,556 10th #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports
1999 34 0 1 10 0 23.9 19.8 $2,019,255 13th #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports
2000 29 0 0 2 0 27.9 28.0 $1,619,775 30th #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports
2001 36 1 3 7 0 22.3 21.8 $2,527,310 18th #55 Andy Petree Racing
2002 31 0 0 3 0 26.6 24.1 $2,196,956 32nd #55 Andy Petree Racing
2005 3 0 0 0 0 32.7 32.0 $277,015 60th #04 Bobby Hamilton Racing
#09 Phoenix Racing

NASCAR Busch Series[edit]

Year Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Avg. Start Avg. Finish Winnings Position Team(s)
1988 2 0 0 0 0 32.5 17.0 $4,390 100th #16 Bobby Hamilton Racing
1989 28 1 4 6 0 21.3 17.8 $74,522 11th #8 FILMAR Racing
1990 31 0 7 14 0 17.4 16.4 $156,281 11th #8 FILMAR Racing
1991 1 0 0 0 0 20.0 25.0 $990 96th #68 Tri-Star Motorsports
1992 1 0 0 0 0 11.0 25.0 $1,115 110th #48 Fred Turner Racing
1993 7 0 0 1 0 24.0 26.1 $17,355 47th #38 Akins-Sutton Motorsports
#05 Key Motorsports
#16 Day Enterprise Racing
1995 4 0 0 0 0 20.0 27.2 $18,995 57th #42 Team SABCO
1996 1 0 0 0 0 32.0 24.0 $8,700 88th #5 Labonte Motorsports
1999 3 0 0 0 0 27.0 23.7 $26,490 80th #94/#80 Mac Martin Racing
2001 2 0 0 0 0 19.5 31.0 $34,275 93rd #08 Carroll Racing
#1 Phoenix Racing
2004 1 0 0 0 0 14.0 16.0 $15,444 111th #1 Phoenix Racing
2005 5 0 0 1 0 26.0 16.8 $123,983 63rd #95 Sadler Brothers Racing

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series[edit]

Year Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Avg. Start Avg. Finish Winnings Position Team(s)
1996 2 0 0 0 1 9.0 28.0 $8,900 86th #48 Chuck Spicer Racing
1997 2 0 1 2 0 15.0 5.5 $20,700 61st #1/#51 Bobby Hamilton Racing
1998 3 0 0 0 0 24.0 33.7 $17,685 69th #40/#1 Bobby Hamilton Racing
1999 5 0 1 1 1 13.2 20.0 $36,865 36th #4/#04 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2000 5 1 1 2 1 7.6 18.0 $76,580 42nd #4 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2001 5 1 2 3 0 5.4 10.4 $80,965 38th #4 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2002 2 0 0 0 0 8.5 22.0 $14,160 66th #4 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2003 25 2 10 18 1 8.2 8.6 $521,915 6th #4 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2004 25 4 12 16 0 9.8 9.4 $973,428 1st #4 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2005 25 2 6 12 1 18.7 13.9 $554,378 6th #04 Bobby Hamilton Racing
2006 3 0 0 0 0 26.7 19.3 $39,990 49th #18 Bobby Hamilton Racing

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleischman, Bill; Al Pearce (1999). The Unauthorized NASCAR Fan Guide 1998-99. Visible Ink Press. p. 115. ISBN 1-57859-111-2. 
  2. ^ Tennessean.com
  3. ^ "Memorable Moments: Phoenix". NASCAR. November 7, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ Smithson, Ryan. Hamilton: I have cancer. NASCAR.com. March 19, 2006.
  5. ^ Woody, Larry. Friends, drivers mourn death of Hamilton. The Tennessean. Retrieved January 7, 2007.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rob Moroso
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
1991
Succeeded by
Jimmy Hensley
Preceded by
Travis Kvapil
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion
2004
Succeeded by
Ted Musgrave