By DON SIMPSON
We have all seen those drivers making do with what they have, and this is the backbone of our sport. If it were not for all the small family race teams, the pit area in the world of DIRTcar racing would be a very lonely place.
The small race teams, whether it’s in the Mini Stock division or the Modified class, are the strength of the sport. They don’t always get the recognition they deserve. Each team, like the big guns fight for sponsors, cover all costs associated with racing and puts everything on the line when they tack the green flag at the start of a race.
One of these teams is Kevin Hamel Racing out of Yamaska QC. Kevin is a second-generation racer who is following his father’s Footsteps. His father is Paul Hamel.
This story started way back in 1983 when Paul began racing in the “Limited” division at his local track of Autodrome St-Gregoire, Drummondville, and, from time-to-time, Autodrome St-Robert. These were the heydays of racing, as there were dirt tracks sprinkled throughout the Northeast and Paul was in on the game.
From the beginning, Paul built all his motors himself which saved on expenses. By the mid-90s, Paul was driving for car owner Clément Henri and would later go on to campaign his own Modified on and off for a few more years.
It wasn’t until the late 2000s when Team Hamel got back in the game after Paul’ son Kevin began racing in the Sportsman Modified division in 2009
Kevin later moved up into the 358 Modified class in 2012, and by 2014, Paul was racing alongside his son during some special events.
Hamel Racing is one of the teams that is underestimated as Kevin is always in the thick of the racing. This team rarely finishes a race without points. In fact, since 2012 they have 74 top-ten finishes.
Kevin also picked up three feature wins at one of his most favorite race tracks at Le RPM Speedway, just down the road from the family race shop.
The other fact is Hamel Racing has their in-house motor program as Paul Hamel builds all their motors, from day one which again helps with the costs of racing. Paul who has been building race motors for over 30 years has been passing on this knowledge as time goes on.
As for the 2021 season, Kevin explained, “It all depends on the effects of the pandemic, sponsorships, and grants offered. I would like to continue to race at my usual tracks of Drummond and RPM Speedway for the moment.”
Kevin explained that he races on a limited budget, with help from friends campaigning the car.
“I appreciate the help of his my friends on racing nights. It is important to consider that our budget is very limited, so we do our best with what we can afford.
“One of the most important things that keep us going year after year is the help of his sponsors who have been there almost from the beginning.”
For this team, like many, sponsors are the key and for Hamel racing the support from Environnement KMJ Inc., H2O Traitement Industriels Inc., Tolérance Zéro and Ferme Simmental Maska are what keeps the team at the track each week.
As we get closer to race day for the first time in 2021, Kevin and Team Hamel are ready to go and looking forward to hopefully visiting victory lane. However, they are just grateful for the opportunity to race and we can all thank teams like this for keeping the sport of Dirt Track racing alive and well.