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Bobby Hamilton

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Bobby Hamilton (May 29, 1957-January 7, 2007), was a driver and owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. Hamilton owned Bobby Hamilton Racing, which regularly fields three entries (including Hamilton's own) in each NCTS event. Hamilton's son, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., is currently a driver in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Hamilton was also a very good friend of NASCAR driver Casey Atwood, who was considered to be in like a godson-type relationship with Hamilton.

In June 2005, Hamilton and Hamilton, Jr. expressed interest in purchasing Riverview Speedway, a small track in Carthage, Tennessee that closed one month before due to lack of interest among the public.

Short track rootsEdit

After quitting school at the age of thirteen, Hamilton began his racing career at Nashville Speedway USA, 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 4-car "Superstar Showdown" at Nashville in 1988 against Winston Cup drivers Sterling Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, and Bill Elliott.

Days of ThunderEdit

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. The car was the #51 Exxon-sponsored machine, portrayed in the movie as being driven by "Rowdy Burns".

Ironically, Kyle Busch, a current driver for Hendrick Motorsports, which fielded the movie cars, drove a Billy Ballew Motorsports truck in the Craftsman Truck Series painted similarly to Hamilton's car from 1989, at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2006, while Hamilton was undergoing cancer treatment. Busch won the race.

NASCAR career Edit

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. In 1994, he joined SABCO Racing, driving the #40 Kendall Oil Pontiac Grand Prix. He had just one top-ten finish and left at the end of the season.

1995-2002 Edit

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. 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.

Craftsman Truck Series Edit

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 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 and won an additional two races on his way to another sixth-place points finish.

He was scheduled to drive the #18 Fastenal Dodge in 2006, but was diagnosed with cancer after three races.

Fight with CancerEdit

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

Hamilton returned to the track for the race at Kentucky Speedway, overseeing his team's operations. Sadly, on January 7th 2007 Hamilton lost his battle with cancer.

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

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