Longtime IRL IndyCar Series competitor Davey Hamilton has been looking to regain a full-time status within either IndyCar or the Firestone Indy Lights Series since returning to the Indianapolis 500 in 2007. Now, he has delved into team ownership, fielding a car for Brandon Wagner in the 2009 Indy Lights season. More information on the official team name and any other partners involved with the team will be announced on Friday.
Hamilton has been involved with Vision Racing at the IndyCar Series level at Indianapolis the last two seasons, but this is his first dive into working on the other side of the pit wall.
"This is not my first involvement with a team but I feel this is a step closer to my hopes of having or being a large part of the management of an IndyCar team," said Hamilton. "I really look forward to working with Brandon (Wagner) and hopefully a second driver to help them fulfill their goals as well."
Lafayette, IN native Wagner, who turns 22 in March, and his family were involved throughout last year's Indy Lights campaign but in a part-time capacity. Wagner Motorsports in association with Steve Eppard of SWE Racing fielded a car for Mike Potekhen at the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, and Wagner made his series debut at Chicagoland in a joint Alliance/Wagner Motorsports effort after testing for a bulk of the season.
This year, he will run the No. 32 car with the possibility of a teammate providing valuable setup feedback to improve the team's progress. The team has also hired veteran engineer Darrell Soppe and team manager Sean Birmingham to oversee the efforts. Wagner is upbeat about his opportunity.
"It's a true privilege to work with somebody like Davey and having him in my headset while I'm on the track," Wagner said. "His knowledge and experience is priceless and it will be the key factor for us to be competitive in our first season together."
Hamilton's is the second new team to join the series recently; the other is Bryan Herta Autosport which is owned by longtime IndyCar and ALMS pilot Bryan Herta and will field Daniel Herrington in his first full-time season of Indy Lights. That team will feature a technical association with Vision Racing, and naturally rumors have emanated that Herta, a road racing consultant for the team, will race another Vision entry in this year's Indianapolis 500.
This signing is one of many in a busy off-season of Indy Lights news, which appears a viable racing option at a cheaper cost given the current global economic crisis. Wagner is the 11th confirmed driver for the 2009 season.
Other signings of note: defending series champions AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing added Colombian Sebastian Saavedra as their second driver, partnering J.R. Hildebrand. Meanwhile, the series' most successful team in terms of wins and championships, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, have signed another Colombian, teenager Gustavo Yacaman. Others including James Hinchcliffe and Charlie Kimball have tested for that team in Florida fairly recently.
Guthrie Meyer Racing has two cars confirmed with team co-owner Jim Guthrie's son Sean and Irishman Ali Jackson, while Andrew Prendeville will race for Team Moore Racing, and Junior Strous has joined ASR-Indy Racing. Panther Racing confirmed British rookies Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann not too long after the season finale at Chicagoland.