Schmidt and Hamilton teaming up for 2012
The longtime relationship between Sam Schmidt and Davey Hamilton as rivals, teammates and friends will reach a new level in 2012, as they have formed a partnership to strengthen an existing entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
A major primary sponsor for the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Honda-powered Dallara driven by Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will be announced soon. Bowers & Wilkins/Magnolia will remain as a major associate sponsor of the team, which won the pole for the 2011 Indianapolis 500.
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season starts Sunday, March 25 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Davey to the team,” team owner Schmidt said. “I’ve known Davey for what seems like forever, and he’s a great friend who is trusted and liked by everyone. He’s also experienced in just about every facet of the racing business, so he’ll be a huge asset for the team. Most importantly, I know him as a fierce competitor who has battled life’s challenges both on and off the track. We can relate to each other like no one else I have met.”
Schmidt and Hamilton have been interwoven through IZOD IndyCar Series history nearly since the series started in 1996.
“I’m very excited about this new opportunity with Sam,” Hamilton said. “Nobody has worked harder to get to Victory Lane in the series than Sam, and I want to help make that happen.”“I’m very excited about this new opportunity with Sam,” Hamilton said. “Nobody has worked harder to get to Victory Lane in the series than Sam, and I want to help make that happen.”
Idaho native Hamilton drove full time in the series from 1996-2001, finishing runner-up in the 1996-97 and 1998 seasons. Nebraska native Schmidt was a full-time driver in the series from 1997-99. Hamilton finished fourth in the 1999 series standings, four points ahead of Schmidt.
After Schmidt was paralyzed in a testing accident in 2000, he created Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The team made its IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2001 – with Hamilton behind the wheel because of the huge amount of respect Sam has for Davey, both on and off the track.
Hamilton made five starts for the team, including the 2001 Indianapolis 500, before suffering serious leg and foot injuries in a race crash in June 2001. He made an emotional return to the cockpit at the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and raced at Indy every year through 2011, with selected other INDYCAR starts.
While driving part time, Hamilton also built various successful racing businesses, including Davey Hamilton Racing. The team fielded entries in Firestone Indy Lights – the final stepping-stone to the IZOD IndyCar Series – and short-track oval racing competition.