FARMER CITY, IL – Kyle Hammer’s journey into the unknown on his World of Outlaws rookie tour ventures to a land of familiarity this weekend.
The Clinton, IL driver gets his chance at a “home game” against the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models as the Series returns to Farmer City Raceway for the Illini 100 on April 1-2.
Hammer is eight races into his Rookie of the Year campaign and has shown promise this season with a top-five at DIRTcar Nationals.
While the two races at Cherokee Speedway didn’t go as hoped, he may have the upper hand at Farmer City. The Prairie State competitor grew up at the track, a facility his dad, Don, operated in the 2000s.
“Dad actually promoted the racetrack from  to , I think it was,” Hammer said. “That’s when I started racing, so he sold out of it, but yeah, we’ve always since I’ve been alive had a connection with Farmer City.
“Whether we were there every Friday or when we were there seven nights a week when Dad was doing the trackwork, we’ve always been around it.”
Those years that Don Hammer ran the day-to-day operations gave his son experiences he’ll never forget. Now he can show off his knowledge of the 1/4-mile bullring in front of friends and family, which excites the World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year contender.
“The cool part is getting all of the friends there,” Hammer said. “None of them have been able to come to watch me run a Late Model since we really started in Florida and haven’t really been anywhere near home with it.
“For them to come, hang out, and just kind of make it like a family deal, everybody’s going to show up, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Hammer stated he likes the bigger, sweeping tracks, but added Farmer City still fits into his wheelhouse due to the way it races.
“It’s a bullring, but it’s not,” Hammer said. “It’s got such big sweeping corners, and it kind of fits my driving style. I don’t know if it’s just the amount of laps I’ve made there that makes me like it so much or just the driving style.
“Like I said, it’s a bullring, but you drive straight and smooth like you would a big 1/2-mile track, and that’s why it fits me so well.”
While Hammer has run several laps at Farmer City, he’ll be up against drivers who’ve been racing there since his dad’s promotional efforts and in-state rivals like Dennis Erb Jr. and four-time and defending champion Brandon Sheppard. Also, the local heroes that race at the Illinois track on a weekly basis.
“You got all of the guys from Illinois,” Hammer said. “[Jason] Feger, [Kevin] Weaver, [Ryan] Unzicker, [Bobby] Pierce, all those guys. Then you also got [Shannon] Babb, who ran at a national level for a while, but still, he’s the local guy of the area, so you got a lot of them.
“I definitely feel like it’ll be the hardest area for us to go to.”
Hammer and the World of Outlaws make their first stop in the Midwest April 1-2 at Farmer City Raceway for the Illini 100, as he tries to defend home turf for the first time in his career.