Strap Davey Hamilton Jr. into a race car and he’s good to go.
Give him the keys to a brand new motorcoach, hook up a 16-foot trailer and have him head off on a cross country trip, well, that’s a different story.
Hamilton will be competing in the King of the Wing Sprint Car races at Irwindale Raceway on Saturday night and Kern County Raceway on Sunday. He was making his way toward Southern California Wednesday morning when he called in from Fresno.
The Boise native, who now makes his home in Indianapolis, is the proud owner of a new 41-foot motorcoach and started his cross-country trek on Saturday.
“Donner Pass (I-80) is a lot easier in a car,” he said. “It was sketchy and scary. I was glad to make it to the bottom. Good thing it it hasn’t started snowing. Heck no.”
While still a bit apprehensive behind the wheel of the new motorcoach, Hamilton is more than ready to compete at two of his favorite race tracks, after a wreck at Irwindale last year that left his racing future in doubt.
“Life is good now,” he said. “A whole lot better than a year ago.”
Last November Hamilton crashed hard into the turn two wall at Irwindale and suffered a broken back and a couple of broken ribs. His most severe injury — a concussion — did not come to light until a banged-up Hamilton boarded an airplane to fly home.
“My head was about to pop off, it was miserable,” recalled Hamilton, who immediately sought the advice of Indy Car doctors.
The end result, Hamilton’s brain had to heal itself.
“I had to sit in my room for weeks in the dark, if I had a touch of light on me I wanted to throw up,” he said.
Symptoms lasted so long that Hamilton at times wondered if his brain would ever return to normal.
“Every time you see a light you just hope you’ll feel better but you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” he said.
Weeks turned into months and then Hamilton saw the light. And there was no pain.
“Out of nowhere it clears up and you feel like a new person,” he said. “I remember having that moment. Feeling clear and good again. Happy.”
His first post-injury race race was in April, a Stadium Super Truck Series event in Long Beach. In May he sat on the pole for the Little 500 Sprint Car race in Indianapolis and competed in his first Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
All-in-all, it’s been a light racing year for Hamilton as not a lot of plans were made while he was recuperating.
That will all change next year as the Hamilton Jr. Group has a new partner and is going all in, hoping to compete in as many as 80 races in various disciplines.
But first, a bit of unfinished business at Irwindale and KCRP, where he won the King of the Wing national championship in 2016.
“They are completely different (to drive) but both of them are among my favorite tracks, they are so fun to drive,” Hamilton said. “At Irwindale you can pretty much run anywhere, up on the wall or down on the apron.
“Kern is a different animal and has more banking. The groove is 1/12 or two wide going into the corner and if you get out of it the car gets loose. There, it’s how long can you hold that throttle pedal down? Who’s going to lift first?”
The George Snider Classic at KCRP is now a two-day event featuring both dirt and pavement racing.
Racesaver Sprint Cars, 360 wingless Sprint Cars and Western Midgets compete on Saturday night at the Dirt Track with racing starting at 6 p.m.
Super Stocks will join the King of the Wing Sprint Cars on the pavement at KRCP on Sunday with racing starting at 3.
Super Chevy Show and more at Famoso
Pssst. Hey, Mopar and Ford owners, want to spoil a Chevy party?
Then head to Auto Club Famoso Raceway this weekend and crash the Menards Super Chevy Show to do battle in the Manufacturers Cup. Or slip your Mustang or Challenger between a few Novas and El Caminos in the car show.
While the focus is on Chevys, the event, which includes a car show and drag racing, is open to all domestic manufacturers. The drag racing portion offerers a variety of cash payouts, such as $250 for the quickest elapsed time, $250 for the longest wheelie and $250 for the longest burnout (to help pay for a new set of tires).
Those who want to just get in a day or two of testing also are welcome.
Gates open at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday with racing starting at 9:30 a.m.
Cal Club races at Buttonwillow
The California Sports Car Club is hosting divisional races, time trials and an enduro race this weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
Full racing programs for Sports Car Club of America classes will be held both Saturday and Sunday with time trials taking place on both days as well. A 90-minute enduro is set to go off at 4:25 p.m. on Saturday. Action starts at 8 a.m. both days.