David Reininger - Motorsport.com As a race car driver, Sam Schmidt has spent the last ten years of his life trying to reach the Indianapolis 500. He first realized his dream of racing at Indianapolis in 1997, driving for Blueprint Racing.
David Reininger - Motorsport.com
As a race car driver, Sam Schmidt has spent the last ten years of his life trying to reach the Indianapolis 500. He first realized his dream of racing at Indianapolis in 1997, driving for Blueprint Racing. Schmidt would race twice more at the famous speedway before a tragic testing accident would cut short his promising career as a race car driver.
Just four months after scoring his first Indy Racing Northern Light Series victory, Schmidt hit the wall at Orlando while testing for the first race of 2000. Despite being confined to a wheel chair since the accident, his passion for the sport remains.
When the Northern Light Series kicks off its 2001 season at Phoenix International Raceway on March 18, Sam Schmidt will race. Not as a driver, but as a team owner. Sam Schmidt Motorsports will field a car at Phoenix for Indy racing veteran Davey Hamilton, the driver only to compete in every single IRL event to date.
"The reason for forming the team, quite simply, is I want to get back to the 500," said Schmidt. "We didn't win it, so the next best thing is to go out there and try and get that ring as an owner."
Hamilton was an overnight success when he first came to Indy racing. In his first 34 races, he scored 22 top-ten finishes. Last year, in order to keep his IRL streak alive he bounced from team to team, landing in cars undeserving of his talent. With a best finish of 14th in 2000, Hamilton is looking for team stability this year.
Sam Schmidt, who competed as an owner/driver three years ago, will provide that stability.
"Davey has finished second in the points twice," said Schmidt. "He has been a very consistent front runner and his history at the Speedway has been very positive. That's where we want to have a good chance to win."
"This series has attracted a lot of very talented drivers and it was very difficult decision. Our team being brand new, we needed experience, consistency and we need to finish races."
After spending last season with three different teams, Hamilton appreciates being involved with an organization dedicated to competing for the full season. He also looks forward to working for a boss he has faced in on track competition.
"Being a former driver, Sam knows the feel of a driver," said Hamilton. "He knows what we go through on and off the track. Frustration at times and the positive things as well. Seeing as how he's been an owner in the past and a driver, I think we have a good combination. That's going to help this team a lot."
When asked about his streak of competing in every Northern Light race, Hamilton said, "I definitely want to keep the streak alive. At the end of this year, I want to be able to say that I'm the only guy who's made all the Northern Light races. But I also want to say that I'm the guy that's won most of them as well."
"I want to make it perfectly clear to everybody, that we're here to win races and the championship," Schmidt added.