Charles Robert Hamilton, Jr. (born January 8, 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a NASCAR driver and owner. He is currently the co-owner of the #24 Nationwide Series Ford for Rensi/Hamilton Racing. He currently resides in White House, Tennessee, with his wife Stephanie and a daughter.
Early career Edit
When he was 15 years old, he found a Ford Pinto in his driveway as a gift from his father (2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Bobby Hamilton). They fixed up the car, and Hamilton began racing it on weekends at the local speedway. In 1998, he moved to the ARCA series where he earned four top-5 finishes in five races.
In 1998, Hamilton Jr. began to run some Busch Series races for the Sadler Brothers Racing #95 team. He made his debut at Rockingham in October, where he started in 27th position. He led four laps and finished 37th, three laps off the lead. He also made the race at Atlanta, had a 19th place start and 20th place finish. Hamilton and the #95 Shoney's Inn team entered 1999 with a part-time schedule. In four races with the team, his best finish was 27th at Rockingham and Darlington. His best start was sixth at Daytona. He didn't race again until the Hensley Motorsports #63 Exxon Superflo team had an opening. He ran six of the next seven races, beginning at Watkins Glen. In that seat, he set his best career finish of 21st at Pikes Peak. Hamilton Jr. then moved over to the #22 Air Jamaica Team owned by Carroll Racing. He qualified for all the races he attempted, and matched his career best start of 6th at Charlotte. At Homestead-Miami Hamilton Jr. started 15th and finished 9th.
Hamilton Jr. got a full-time ride with Carroll in 2000, driving the newly formed #26 Chevy, with sponsorship from Baywatch. Hamilton Jr. had three top-10s in 2000, with a fourth at Talladega, and a pair of sevenths at Charlotte and Memphis. Hamilton Jr. also won his first career pole in the season finale at Homestead-Miami. He finished 19th in points. During the Homestead weekend in 2000, he made his Winston Cup Series debut at that track, driving the #57 Chevrolet owned by his father. He finished 33rd in that race, six laps down. He drove the #01 Coors Light Chevrolet for SABCO Racing the following week to a 31st place finish.
Hamilton Jr. returned to Carroll had a pair of 5th at Darlington and Rockingham in 2001. He also added three other top-10s, and won another pole at Fontana in addition to starting in the top-10 for half the races. After finishing 17th in points, he left the team. He made his Truck Series debut that year at The Milwaukee Mile in the #4 Dana Corporation Dodge Ram, but exited early due to a transmission failure. He also ran three races in the #33 Oakwood Homes Chevy for Andy Petree Racing as a teammate to his father, filling in for the injured Joe Nemechek. He also ran seven Cup races late in the season for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, driving the #4 Kodak Chevy to three top-twenty finishes.
In 2002, Hamilton, Jr. joined Team Rensi Motorsports to drive the #25 United States Marine Corps Ford Taurus. He won his first career race at New Hampshire and finished eighth in points. He also had his first top-five finish in the Truck Series at Nashville Superspeedway, finishing seventh in his father's Square D entry. He had his statistically career-best season in 2003, where he won 4 Busch Series events and finished 4th in the final standings. He also partnered with Rensi to run some races at the Winston Cup level, his best finish being a 14th at Kansas Speedway in the #35 Marines Ford.
Hamilton, Jr. returned to Rensi in 2004, but did not win a race. He drove 6 Nextel Cup events for Phoenix Racing in the #09 Miccosukee Indian Gambling Dodge, and had a best finish of seventeenth. He also drove three times in the Truck Series, winning a pole in his father's #04 truck, as well as running twice for HT Motorsports. After 23 Busch races, he left Rensi to move up to the Nextel level, driving the #32 Tide Chevrolet for PPI Motorsports. He was given the full-time ride for 2005, but struggled immensely, failing to qualify three times and not finishing higher than 11th. After driving two events in equipment leased from Front Row Motorsports, Hamilton, Jr. was let go from PPI at the end of the season.
Without a full-time ride, Hamilton, Jr. moved to the Truck Series, leasing equipment from the #08 team owned by Green Light Racing, and running with Corky's Ribs and BBQ sponsorship. After three races, it was announced that his father had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer, and Hamilton, Jr. was deemed his replacement in the #18 Fastenal Dodge. He won the pole in his first race in the truck, but only mustered a sixteenth-place finish in points, as well as dealing with conflicts within the family-run organization. His attempt to run the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Cup level also failed.
Following the death of his father on January 7, 2007 (coincidentally the day before his 29th birthday), Hamilton Jr. was expected to take over ownership of the team, however the financial backers of Bobby Hamilton Racing decided that Bobby Jr. was not the appropriate person to be named majority owner.
In 2007, Hamilton, Jr. returned to the Busch Series and Team Rensi, this time driving the #35 McDonald's Ford. He had three top-ten finishes and finished sixth in the final standings. After his #35 team folded in 2008, he moved back to the #25 car with Smithfield Foods sponsoring for thirty races. Despite missing two road course events, Hamilton Jr. had two top-tens and finished fifteenth in points. The team was ready to close near the end of the season when Smithfield's sponsorship ended, but Hamilton, Jr. funded the team out of his own pocket for the final few races of the season to keep the team going. He also purchased a small portion of the Sadler Brothers team for whom he had begun his career, allowing them to run a limited schedule in the Nationwide and ARCA RE/MAX Series.
Before the 2009 season, Hamilton, Jr. purchased a small portion of Rensi Motorsports and merged his own operation with the team, forming the new Rensi-Hamilton Racing operation. The #25 team lacks sponsorship, however, and they have not attempted any races yet in 2009 with Hamilton, who has instead run races with the #81 MacDonald Motorsports team.
Hamilton replaced his father in 2006 as co-host of "The Driver's Zone" on WGFX 104.5 The Zone in Nashville with Liz Hackett, the remarried widow of Davey Allison, who uses her first husband's surname on the radio show.
Hamilton and wife Stephanie own the Courthouse Cafe in Springfield, Tennessee.
At the end of the 2009 Race Season for local track Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop, Tennessee it was announced that Bobby Hamilton Jr. had purchased the track and will be opening it for the 2010 season of racing. Highland Rim Speedway is the place where Bobby raced his first race.