IRL: Hamilton happy to be back behind wheel

IRL: Hamilton happy to be back behind wheel

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2002 -- Less than a year after taking his first steps on his severely injured feet, Davey Hamilton already is driving faster than 155 mph in an Indy Racing car. Hamilton, from Eagle, Idaho, suffered severe...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2002 -- Less than a year after taking his first steps on his severely injured feet, Davey Hamilton already is driving faster than 155 mph in an Indy Racing car.

Hamilton, from Eagle, Idaho, suffered severe injuries to his legs and feet in a crash during the Casino Magic 500 on June 9, 2001, at Texas Motor Speedway. Following extensive reconstructive surgery, two-time Indy Racing League series runner-up Hamilton was able to stand on both feet in late December 2001.

Davey Hamilton.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.

Nine months later, Hamilton turned his first laps in an IRL car when he tested in an A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone on Oct. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway.

"A.J. was coming here to give Anthony (A.J. Foyt IV) a few laps, and I asked him if I could come and run a few laps to see where I'm at,' said Hamilton, who finished second in the 1996-97 IRL standings while driving for Foyt. "We've always had a good relationship. He said, 'You can help Anthony run a few laps.' I said, 'Anthony may have to help me.'"

Hamilton turned 40 laps on the 1-mile desert oval, lapping in the 22-second range.

"I felt comfortable in the car, but I'd have to make some adjustments on the pedals to make it comfortable for me because my (right) foot went a little numb in the heel," Hamilton said.

"The right foot is where they did the majority of the reconstruction. Basically, they rebuilt my heel. With the vibrations and stuff in the car, it went a little numb. It's something I've got to keep working on by driving every car I can and keep testing to overcome the problem."

Although track conditions were less than ideal, with winds gusting up to 40 mph, Hamilton was grateful for the chance to gauge his fitness for a return to competition.

"I'm very fortunate that A.J. gave me the opportunity to see where I'm at," Hamilton said. "Now I know what I have to do: keep building strength and endurance.

"I'd be good for qualifying, but I'm not ready for a race yet. I definitely would be capable of running a race, but right now I'm a short-haul kind of guy. But I love this track, and (the test) gave me a benchmark. Hopefully, I'll test again in another couple of months.

"I didn't go that many laps, but I know I can do it. It felt good. It felt real good."

-irl-

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