A legendary name in Phoenix International Raceway lore returns to the one-mile tri-oval aiming for a feat that has only been accomplished four times as Davey Hamilton, Sr. and Davey Hamilton, Jr. look to become just the fifth father-son duo to compete against each other in a USAC Silver Crown race on Saturday, April 29 in the “Phoenix Copper Cup.”
At Phoenix, both Hamiltons will pilot potent team cars for the Fred Gormly/RPM Auto Enterprise team, whose cars Chris Windom drove to the 2016 Silver Crown driving title. Hamilton, Jr. will drive the No. 98 while Hamilton, Sr. will take the wheel of the No. 99.
Only four fathers and sons have competed against each other in a Silver Crown event: Jim and James McElreath (7 races between 1975-1977), Mike and David McCreary (Sacramento 1994), Wayne Reutimann, Sr. and Wayne Reutimann, Jr. (Phoenix 2007). The Hamiltons aren’t even the first father and son from their own family to race against each other in the series! Davey Hamilton, Sr. and his father Ken raced together at Colorado’s Pikes Peak International Raceway in 1998.
“We’ve been able to race together in the past, but not Silver Crown cars,” Hamilton, Sr. noted. “(Davey Jr.) has been in a Silver Crown car before, and it’s been awhile for me, but Phoenix is my place. I love it there. It’s exciting to have an opportunity to run with your son. It doesn’t happen very often.”
Hamilton, Jr. also has tentative to plans to race a Silver Crown car for Gormly at Brownsburg, Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway on May 26 as well as Toledo (OH) Speedway on July 28 as he eyes his first series start since an 11th place run at Lucas Oil in 2014.
“It’s great to be able to be a part of this and add racing at Phoenix to my resume,” Hamilton, Jr. said. “Obviously, my grandpa and dad had great success there and I hope to follow in their footsteps. It’s rare for my dad and I to even be together at a race. Being able to race against each other is going to be incredible. A lot of my family and friends are coming into town just to see it.”
The success achieved by the Hamiltons at Phoenix and, particularly the “Copper World Classic,” is paramount. Hamilton, Sr. is a six-time supermodified winner at the “Copper World” with victories in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2001. Ken is a two-time winner of the sprint car portion of the “Copper World” in both 1980 and 1984, in which he drove the famed “Pink Lady” to victory. The car was number 98, the very same numerals grandson Hamilton, Jr. will use this season on his Silver Crown ride.
It’s been eight years since Hamilton, Sr. has been in a Silver Crown car, but the 11-time Indy 500 starter has made 30 career series starts, including his debut run in 1990 for Bob Consani and where he made six IndyCar starts between 1996 and 2001. Despite the changes in the track since the last time he competed at Phoenix, the track still seems to fit his style.
“I actually did some testing there in an IndyCar awhile back after they made the configuration change,” Hamilton, Sr. recalls. “It’s definitely a little faster, but It really drives the same. Visually, it has a bit of a different look to it without the grass infield on the back stretch. You gain a little bit more speed since turn two opens up so good now. I hope it gets to where everybody’s comfortable with it since we haven’t been there in a long time and I hope we get the set-ups right because we know the races there in the past have been outstanding and I feel it’s going to happen again. Silver Crown cars belong at Phoenix.”
Car owner Fred Gormly has been a fixture at Phoenix for a number of years, but after serving as a spectator and push-truck driver at the “Copper World,” he will now serve as one of the teams vying for the “Phoenix Copper Cup.”
“Phoenix is a track I’ve always wanted to run,” Gormly admits. “I’ve attended many ‘Copper Worlds’ over the years and I have family that lives in Phoenix, so I’m really thrilled to be going back there. We’ve got two excellent drivers with Davey and Davey, Jr. Davey, Sr. has a record that speaks for itself. I know he loves the place and has a lot of laps there. Junior is an up-and-comer. I hope we can put on a good show.”
Hamilton, Jr. exudes confidence coming into the round at PIR.
“I believe I have one of the best teams and cars out there,” Hamilton, Jr. says without hesitation. “I will definitely have a good shot in every race we’re at. We have a good car and program, so I’ll have to do my part and make sure to give them the best results I possibly can.”