Shane Hmiel

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Shane Hmiel
Born (1980-05-15) May 15, 1980 (age 36)
Pleasant Garden, North Carolina
Awards 2001 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Rookie of the Year
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
7 races run over 2 years
Best finish 51st (2004)
First race 2004 Pop Secret 500 (California)
Last race 2005 Food City 500 (Bristol)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
83 races run over 4 years
Best finish 15th (2003)
First race 2002 EAS/GNC Live Well 300 (Daytona)
Last race 2005 Carquest Auto Parts 300 (Charlotte)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 23 4
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
29 races run over 2 years
Best finish 13th (2004)
First race 2004 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 (Daytona)
Last race 2005 UAW-GM Ohio 250 (Mansfield)
First win 2004 Las Vegas 350 (Las Vegas)
Last win 2004 Las Vegas 350 (Las Vegas)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 12 0

Shane Hmiel (born May 15, 1980) is an American former racecar driver, who competed in all three of NASCAR's national series. Hmiel's controversial stock car career, marred by accidents from his aggressive driving style, ended in 2006 after he failed a third substance abuse test and was banned from competing in NASCAR for life.[1] After rebuilding his career in open wheel racing, primarily in United States Auto Club sanctioned dirt track racing,[2] Hmiel was paralyzed in a near fatal racing accident on October 9, 2010 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Prior to the accident, Hmiel had become the first driver to win the Hoosier Hundred, Rich Vogler Classic, and Pat O'Connor Memorial, the three premier USAC midget-car races, in the same season.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Shane is the son of Lisa Hmiel and Steve Hmiel, former NASCAR crew chief and later a Competition Director who worked for several teams including Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Swan Racing. He also has a younger brother, Tyler Hmiel.[4]

Health and drug use[edit]

At age 5, Hmiel was misdiagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He began smoking cannabis at age 12, and on a daily basis through his teens and 20s. Hmiel also admitted to using cocaine "about 100 times,"[3] and used drugs in part to medicate himself.[5] After entering drug rehab in 2007, Hmiel's condition was properly diagnosed as Bipolar II disorder.[4]

Racing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Hmiel began racing in go-karts, winning 164 races from the age of 12 to 15. After quitting racing for three years, he began running late model stock cars.[6]

NASCAR career[edit]

In 2001, Hmiel competed in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series, earning the Rookie of the Year award with two wins and 13 top-10 finishes, finishing fifth in points.[6] Hmiel also ran a single ARCA RE/MAX Series (now ARCA Racing Series) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, finishing second.[7] Hmiel also qualified the #48 Chevrolet for Innovative Motorsports in Busch Series, the second-tier national series of NASCAR, at Memphis Motorsports Park, filling in for Kenny Wallace who raced the car.[6][7]

For 2002, Hmiel moved to the Busch Series in the #47 Chevrolet for Innovative as a teammate to Wallace.[8][9] Initially planned to run a part-time schedule, sponsorship from Thomas Pacconi Classics, Goulds Pumps, and Mike's Hard Lemonade Co. expanded his schedule to the full season.[8][10][11][12] Hmiel opened his rookie season with a fifth-place finish at Daytona.[6][8][10] He earned two poles (at Nashville and Loudon), 2 top 5's, and 8 top 10's to finish 16th in points and third in Rookie of the Year standings behind Scott Riggs and Johnny Sauter.[7][8][13]

In 2003, Hmiel moved into Innovative's #48 car. After the first 26 races of the season, he already improved on his rookie season statistics, earning 4 top 5's and 10 top 10's, and sat 8th in points.[7] Hmiel's best NASCAR effort came at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August 2003, where he won the pole, led the most laps and staged a very competitive battle with eventual series champion Brian Vickers. Vickers took his first career victory, while Hmiel finished fourth. In December 2009, the race was selected by media members as the greatest Nationwide Series race of the decade.[14] Hmiel also attempted to qualify for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July in the Winston Cup Series for Petty Enterprises' famed 43 car, with normal driver Christian Fittipaldi driving Petty's 44 car.[15][16] He did not, however make the race.

First failed substance abuse test[edit]

At the Funai 250 at Richmond International Raceway, Hmiel was involved in several on track incidents, beginning on lap 103 when he spun the lapped car of Randy MacDonald. Late in the race with 5 laps to go, Hmiel was involved in an accident with Jason Keller. Hmiel was moved out of line down the backstretch, then slipped up into Keller in turn three, sending Keller's 57 car into the wall driver's side first. Hmiel was fined $5,000 and placed on probation for an altercation in the garage area after the race with Keller.[17] Fellow competitor David Green would later identify this race as a sign of bad times to come for Hmiel.[18]

A week later on September 18, Hmiel was suspended indefinitely for failing a drug test, testing positive for marijuana. According to NASCAR's substance abuse policy, the sanctioning body is allowed to administer drug tests, based only on "reasonable suspicion", at their sole discretion.[3][19] At the time, he was the highest-profile driver to fail such a test. Hmiel was released from Innovative Motorsports, replaced with former Busch Series champion Jeff Green at Dover, then several other veteran drivers for the remainder of the season.[20] He was set to drive the 91 car for Evernham Motorsports that weekend at Dover coming up but the team withdrew after the suspension.

2004–2005: Return to competition[edit]

Hmiel was reinstated in 2004 after completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery program, and was picked up for the full Craftsman Truck Series season by Billy Ballew Motorsports, with crew chief Ritchie Wauters.[21] Hmiel scored his first and only NASCAR victory at the Las Vegas 350 in September, racing hard with Todd Bodine through lapped traffic, eventually bumping Bodine out of the way coming to the white flag.[22]

Hmiel returned to Busch Series competition at the 9th race of the season at Fontana for GIC-Mixon Motorsports, starting and finishing 32nd.[23] After running three more races with GIC, he drove two races for Akins Motorsports' #38 Dodge,[7] scoring a fourth-place finish at Milwaukee. In late October, Hmiel was signed to Braun Racing, replacing David Stremme in the TrimSpa X32 Dodge for the remainder of the season beginning at Atlanta Motor Speedway.[24] He had a best finish of 22nd in four starts for Braun. Hmiel also made his Nextel Cup Series debut in September at Fontana in the 23 car for Bill Davis Racing.[25] He ran 5 races for BDR, with a best finish of 24th at Kansas and Atlanta.

For 2005, Braun formed an alliance with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and switched to Chevrolet. The team was also joined by new sponsor WinFuel Multivitamins, produced by TripSpa's parent company. Hmiel was in a series of commercials with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to promote his sponsor's product.[26] In addition to the full Busch Series schedule and a partial truck series schedule with Ballew, Braun and WinFuel fielded a 08 Chevrolet in a partial schedule in the Cup Series for Hmiel, debuting at Atlanta.[27]

During the Sharpie 250 at Bristol in April, Hmiel was involved a very heated incident with Cup Series veteran Dale Jarrett after Hmiel spun him out on the front stretch with three laps to go. The two were racing for 12th and 13th place, and Hmiel had bumped and ran the last three drivers he had passed before getting to Jarrett's 90 car. When an angry Jarrett leaned into Hmiel's window to question why Hmiel had spun him out, Hmiel appeared to have no remorse for his driving, then flipped the middle finger toward Jarrett as the latter was walking away. The incident was captured live on Fox Sports' national television broadcast (especially the finger gesture pointed at Jarrett) through Hmiel's in-car camera. Hmiel was fined $10,000 and docked 25 points in the standings for the incident.[28]

Ban from NASCAR[edit]

At Charlotte in May 2005, Hmiel was administered another substance test following Busch Series qualifying, after NASCAR officials observed Hmiel making "erratic moves" on the racetrack. In June at Dover, it was revealed that he had failed the test, and he was escorted from the garage by NASCAR officials. Hmiel had tested positive for marijuana and cocaine, and was suspended "indefinitely" starting in May 2005.[3][5][29] Hmiel was offered a chance at reinstatement after his second infraction, under condition that he submit to medical and psychological reviews, and frequent drug testing before reinstatement. In February, 2006, however, Hmiel failed a third and final drug test, and was banned for life from NASCAR.[3][4][5] He stated on WindTunnel with Dave Despain on April 4, 2010, and on several other occasions that his ban was "the best thing that's happened" to him.[4][30] The ban would be partially lifted in 2012 (see below).

During his four-year NASCAR career, Hmiel appeared in seven Nextel Cup races, 83 Busch races, and 29 Truck Series races. He had one win: in the Truck Series' Las Vegas 350 in 2004.

Hmiel was not paid his 2005 salary for races prior to the suspension, as Braun Racing alleged that Hmiel signed the contract in bad faith due to health concerns, leading Hmiel to sue the team for over $135,000 in earnings and another $135,000 for "bad faith dealings" by the team.[31] Under oath, Hmiel admitted that he violated NASCAR's substance abuse policy with a positive test for marijuana in 2003 and a positive test for marijuana and cocaine in 2005. Hmiel denied he was using drugs on a regular basis (at least once a week) in 2005. Hmiel denied that he had tested positive for heroin at any time from 2003 to 2005, and testified that he was not under the influence of any drug at any time while he was racing.[32] The disposition of the lawsuit is unknown.

Driving style[edit]

During his stock car career, Hmiel's talent was often eclipsed by his fiery temperament, over-aggressive and impatient driving, and unsportsmanlike conduct, leading to several on-and-off track altercations with other competitors. In a 2011 interview with Fox Sports's Steve Byrnes, Hmiel admitted "I'll run you over to win the race. I'd run you over to run 7th."[4] In addition to aforementioned incidents, Hmiel was involved in an incident at Rockingham Speedway in 2003 where spun out Mike Wallace entering turns 1 and 2, with analyst Darrell Waltrip proclaiming on a replay that "Looking at that you'd say, Shane Hmiel just run over him." The two had a physical confrontation after leaving their cars, requiring NASCAR officials to separate the drivers. Wallace was later fined $3,000 for yelling an expletive on national television.[4][33]

Drug rehabilitation[edit]

A turning point in Hmiel's life came in July 2007, when he was involved in a bar fight that led to an infection in his hand due to teeth being lodged in it.[3] After spending 10 days in the hospital, Hmiel proceeded to check into drug rehab on July 23, 2007 at the Talbot Recover Center in Atlanta, GA. Deemed "extremely addicted", Hmiel spent 103 days at Talbot before checking out in October. During his stay, Hmiel confronted his emotional issues both on and off the track, leading to the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder, as well as depression and anxiety.[3][4][5][34]

Open-wheel racing and redemption[edit]

After rehabilitation from drug addiction and three-years-sober, Hmiel returned to racing in open-wheeled cars, with the goal of becoming "the next American IndyCar driver."[35] He competed in all three national touring divisions of the United States Auto Club in the USAC Silver Crown Series, the USAC National Sprint Car Series, and the USAC National Midget Series.

In 2009, Hmiel earned his first USAC-sanctioned win in the Sprint Car division at Iowa Speedway and scored a then-career-best dirt track finish of second in the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway. Hmiel earned post-season honors as USAC's "Most Improved Driver." He was also named the Rookie of the Year in the 2009 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 2010, he earned his first career Midget Series victory at Hickory Motor Speedway less than an hour from Mooresville, North Carolina, where he currently resides. The momentum from that victory carried on to other divisions. In the Sprint Car division, he broke the world speed record for a non-winged Sprint Car at Iowa Speedway, winning the pole with an average speed of 146.444 miles per hour. In addition the speed record, he earned three victories, all on pavement, at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis (twice) and Salem Speedway. In the Silver Crown division, he earned his first career series win and first dirt track win in the Hoosier Hundred race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. During the season Hmiel became the first driver to win the Hoosier Hundred, Rich Vogler Classic, and Pat O'Connor Memorial, the three premier USAC midget-car races, in the same season.[3]

Hmiel was slated to make his debut in the Firestone Indy Lights series (the top feeder circuit to the IndyCar Series) at Chicagoland Speedway for the Chicagoland 100 on August 28, 2010,[36] but a back injury kept him from competing in the race.

Accident, paralysis, and recovery[edit]

While qualifying for a USAC Silver Crown race, Hmiel's car crashed at the Terre Haute Action Track on October 9, 2010.[3] The roll cage collapsed after hitting the retaining wall. He was airlifted to Methodist Hospital with head, back, and neck injuries. Shortly after arriving, he was in critical but stable condition after having been put into a medically induced coma to minimize brain swelling.[3] Hmiel was paralyzed as a result of his injuries; Hmiel has since regained limited use of his limbs, but continues to require the use of a wheelchair.[3]

Post-racing career[edit]

While in recovery from the aforementioned 2010 crash, Hmiel started a new USAC midget car team, partnering with former series champion Levi Jones.[37][38] One year after the accident, Jones would score a victory in a car owned by Hmiel.[38] Nearly two years after the accident, Hmiel was allowed back into a NASCAR garage for the first time since the 2006 ban, as a guest of Billy Ballew Motorsports and the crew chief, Nick Harrison (who had worked with Hmiel in the past) at Atlanta Motor Speedway, watching as Kurt Busch raced the team's #51 entry (in the truck Hmiel had won with in 2004) to a top-10 finish.[34]

In January 2013, Hmiel returned to racing in a driving experience event at Rockingham Speedway, a track Hmiel had raced on during his career. The event, hosted by Accessible Racing, allowed Hmiel as well as two disabled military veterans to run laps on the track at over 100 mph in a modified Gen-4 Ford Fusion stock car.[37][39][40]

In January 2016, Hmiel fielded a car at the Chili Bowl for Eric Saunders, a former motocross driver who had also been paralyzed in an accident.[38]

Motorsports career results[edit]


(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Nextel Cup Series[edit]

Busch Series[edit]

Craftsman Truck Series[edit]


  1. ^ "Hmiel banned for life by NASCAR". February 26, 2006. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Tuttle, Tim (January 1, 2010). "Banned for life by NASCAR, Shane Hmiel is winning races again". Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Smith, Marty (November 24, 2012). "Broken body, repaired soul". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Shane Hmiel's Story on NASCAR Race-Hub Part 1". Fox Sports, SPEED, NASCAR Race Hub. July 21, 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, Steven Cole (October 12, 2010). "Disgraced NASCAR driver Hmiel had turned his life around". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Reinhard, Paul (May 19, 2002). "Young Hmiel has plenty of moxie". The Morning Call. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Hmiel To Pilot No. 38 At Milwuakee". Motor Racing Network. Mooresville, North Carolina. June 17, 2004. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Busch Series His Hmiel Ticket". Motor Racing Network. October 17, 2002. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "BUSCH: Kenny Wallace gains primary sponsor". Concord, North Carolina: January 10, 2002. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "BUSCH: Daytona: Innovative Motorsports race recap". Palm Beach Gardens, Florida: February 20, 2002. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "BUSCH: Mike's Hard Lemonade dever? chegar Fittipaldi". Miami, Florida: February 20, 2002. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Young Drivers Ticket To Ride". Motor Racing Network. January 23, 2002. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "BUSCH: Loudon: Raybestos Rookie qualifying quotes". May 12, 2002. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Top drivers, races of decade announced". Daytona Beach, Florida: December 21, 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Morris News Service (July 3, 2003). "Q&A with Shane Hmiel". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "Hmiel To Wheel No. 43 At Daytona". Motor Racing Network. Level Cross, North Carolina. June 24, 2003. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "BUSCH: Richmond II: Hmiel/Keller penalized". Daytona Beach, Florida: September 8, 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Schnatz, Pete (June 4, 2005). "Suspension invades thoughts Shane Hmiel's failed drug test dominated the rain-induced downtime discussion at Dover.". Dover, Delaware: Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  19. ^ NASCAR (September 18, 2003). "BUSCH: Shane Hmiel draws indefinite suspension". Daytona Beach, Florida: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "BUSCH: Dover II: Jeff Green to drive No. 48". Mooresville, North Carolina: September 19, 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Michigan: Shane Hmiel preview". Mooresville, North Carolina: July 26, 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Shane Hmiel's late-race charge pays off for Las Vegas 350 win; Scores first Craftsman Truck Series victory after starting 21s". Las Vegas Motor Speedway. September 26, 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  23. ^ GIC-Mixon Motorsports (April 27, 2004). "BUSCH: Shane Hmiel to race Fontana event". Mooresville, North Carolina: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Braun Racing (October 27, 2004). "BUSCH: Shane Hmiel to pilot Braun Racing's Dodge". Mooresville, North Carolina: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  25. ^ Bill Davis Racing (September 1, 2004). "Fontana II: Shane Hmiel preview". Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  26. ^ Braun Racing (February 17, 2005). "BUSCH: Daytona: Shame Hmiel preview". Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  27. ^ Braun Racing (March 15, 2005). "BUSCH: Atlanta: Shane Hmiel preview". Mooresville, North Carolina: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Braun Racing (April 19, 2005). "BUSCH: Braun Racing will not appeal Bristol penalties". Mooresville, North Carolina: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  29. ^ NASCAR (June 2, 2005). "BUSCH: Hmiel suspended for substance abuse". Daytona Beach, Florida: Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "The Rise and Fall (and Almost Rise Again) of Shane Hmiel". The View from Here:The Business of NASCAR. Virginia Commonwealth University. October 15, 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "Shane Hmiel Suspension". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  32. ^ Hmiel admits to positive tests for marijuana, cocaine
  33. ^ Whitehead, Bill (March 7, 2003). "NASCAR could use a few loose cannons". ESPN. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  34. ^ a b Pockrass, Bob (September 1, 2012). "Shane Hmiel has emotional night in first return to a NASCAR track since 2005". Sporting News. Hampton, Georgia: Sporting News. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "Shane Hmiel's Story on NASCAR Race-Hub Part 2". Fox Sports, SPEED, NASCAR Race Hub. July 21, 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  36. ^ McCubbin, Ashley (August 6, 2010). "Shane Hmiel Set To Make Firestone Indy Car Series Debut at Chicagoland". Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  37. ^ a b Horrow, Ellen J. (January 28, 2013). "Shane Hmiel defies all the odds to race a car again". USA TODAY. USA TODAY. Retrieved 5 October 2014. Shane Hmiel will participate in the Race to the Rock Saturday at Rockingham Speedway 
  38. ^ a b c Crossman, Matt (March 28, 2016). "LIVES RENEWED: HMIEL, SAUNDERS FORGED FRIENDSHIP THROUGH RACING, ADVERSITY". Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  39. ^ "TRUCKS: Shane Hmiel's Race to Recovery Ten Years Later". Fox Sports NASCAR. Fox Sports. September 20, 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. After NASCAR banned Shane Hmiel for life due to drug use, he was involved in an unfortunate open wheel accident. Shane talks to FOX Sports about the good that has come of it. 
  40. ^ "Shane Hmiel Drives Again at Rockingham Speedway 3 Wide Life". YouTube 3WideLifeTV. YouTube, Three Wide Life. February 1, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 

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