Friday, March 17, 2006 Bobby Hamilton Racing Press Conference Transcript Atlanta Motor Speedway BOBBY HAMILTON (Driver of the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge Ram and team owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing) Note: Hamilton, a 48-year-old driver from ...
Friday, March 17, 2006
Bobby Hamilton Racing Press Conference Transcript
Atlanta Motor Speedway
BOBBY HAMILTON (Driver of the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge Ram and team owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing)
Note: Hamilton, a 48-year-old driver from Nashville, Tenn., has earned 10 wins, 33 top fives, and 54 top 10s in just 101 starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The 2004 NCTS champion announced today that he has cancer and will step out of the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge Ram after tonight's race.
"I was diagnosed with cancer, neck cancer, about right before I went to Daytona. It all started from a wisdom tooth. I thought it was a swollen lymph node. Come to find out it was not. The reason for this press conference is to let you know three things: Bobby (Hamilton) Jr. will start driving the Fastenal Dodge immediately after Atlanta. This is my last race. But I will be back. I'm not quitting. This is a situation guys where there's going to be something wrong with me. I don't take an aspirin. I never have. Because of a wisdom tooth, it probably saved my life, because of the swelling in my jaw. It's just time for me to get out and start my treatment and kick this thing. I've got a goal to be back at Homestead. It's a big possibility. If not, I'll be back at Daytona.
"I'm really proud to say they're (Fastenal and Dodge) going to stay on with us. Dodge has been a great partner of ours for many years now and you couldn't ask for a better group of people. I've always told them I'd drive a Dodge Ram. I can promise you I'll do that for the rest of my life no matter what happens.
"I've read a lot of material, or Lori has read a lot of material for me. It's called head and neck cancer. I don't have anything wrong with my head. Schrader said a lot of people have that when I told him about it this morning. Basically they found a place in the lower part of my neck here. That's what the treatments are for. That's what we're going after.
"When you write my name, don't write my name as a cancer victim. I'm not a victim. Don't list me as a victim. Victims are what I see on police TV when people get shot. If you would, just treat it with kid gloves. I appreciate everything ya'll have ever done for my career. There's probably nothing in the world that I care for more than my racing career.
"I will be back."
HAVE YOU STARTED TREATMENT? WHAT WILL IT ENTAIL?
"My treatment has not started and to be honest with you Mark, I have come close so many times in the last three weeks of trying to work it out to where I could start chemo and still race. I started looking at the side effects and it was very possible, but reaction time was one thing and out of respect to everybody I race against, and I think Wayne Auten will tell you that whatever the concerns are for the betterment of the sport, is the decision I'll make. I didn't think it was fair to my other competitors to even think that there was a problem, so I start my treatments on Monday morning.
"It'll start out chemo for x-amount of weeks, then two weeks off then it'll go chemo and radiation. It's going to be a pretty fast turning thing. Let me tell you, they've done a lot with this. It's really come a long way in a lot of years. They really don't act like it'll be that big of a deal. They feel like I'm going to feel bad at times, but my body is so healthy, they're telling me anyhow that it's killing off 70 percent of it as quick as they can find anything. My blood count and everything is completely normal, they don't even see anything when it comes to that."
HAVE YOU TALKED WITH OTHERS IN THE GARAGE AREA WHO HAVE DEALT WITH CANCER?
"I talked to Ted Musgrave during his deal. You've got to understand. We'll I'm not going to talk about Ted's personal life. Ted's deal was a different deal. I'm not going to say it was any easier or any worse. I do know Ted was able to make it work. I just know where they're going to have to put the stuff for me affects your system a little more. At least that's what I hear. I have talked to Doug Schaub, who's on Musgrave's team (now on the No. 98 team). I don't know if you know him or not, but he experienced the exact thing I'm going through. I actually talked to him. I've been going through tests and stuff since Feb. 8. I've been fortunate and I haven't had to take any medicine. I've talked to a handful of people in this garage area and for us to go from Feb. 8 until now and for nothing to leak out more than what I've heard - that says a lot about the character that's in this garage area."
WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR TREATMENTS?
"There's a lady who does PR for UMC, I do a lot of commercials for the University Medical Center in Tennessee. The tests that I started undergoing, she got everyone of my tests done in a matter 10 days. After we got to checking, I thought I was behind on this, but I was actually three and a half months ahead of schedule with all the tests I got done. I've been working with UMC and all the treatments will be done at Vanderbilt."
AS AN OWNER, WILL YOU STILL BE AT THE TRACK EACH WEEK?
"I pay them to drive; I hope I don't have to coach them. I am going to be there as an owner to give them everything they need to win races. There isn't but one thing that motivates me. You like all kinds of different sports, but I don't. I respect people who do, but I don't hold it against me because I don't. If it don't have headers, a four-speed and slicks, I don't do good with it. If my truck is at a race track, I'm going to be there. I'm going to have to be in bad shape not to be there. The only trips I can imagine that I might not feel like making if the side effects are what they say, is a race out West. That's not to say that I might just go out a day early. I love what I do. I love this business. I love this sanctioning body -- they've been nothing but good to me. I feel completely out of place if I'm not around it. It's going to have to be about death for me to not be there. I don't foresee that happening. I don't think somebody upstairs is ready for me just yet."
TRUCK DRIVERS ARE TOUGH, ARE YOU GOING TO USE THAT TO GET THROUGH THIS?
"It seems like every truck driver right now has come from a street fighting background. Look at Skinner. You'd have thought he was born with a switch blade in his hand. Sprague has been known to take it from him a couple of times. Hornaday has been known to hide it from him a couple of times. The list just goes on and on. You go through your situations. You listen to a lot of stuff. You read things -- scripture. You listen to words in songs. My whole life has been a bit of turmoil. I've been pretty proud to do what I've done because I'm a survivor. I was out on the street at 13-14 years old. Ended up doing what I did and got a chance to race with the best race car drivers in the best racing in the world. Now I'm an owner and employ right around 60 people. It's like Garth Brooks' song "The Dance:" "I could have missed the pain, but I would have missed the dance." I don't have anything to argue about. I just know everywhere in this garage area are people who I won't associate with, don't talk to, but I care a ton for their safety. You feel that when you lose somebody. Dale Earnhardt used to make me so mad I could have taken a dump truck and run over him three times, but when we lost him, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. That's just the way this business is. I don't expect anything in return. All I expect out of this is if anybody has anything to say about what I'm going through, let's just attribute it to everybody who's going through it. I just want to take what I'm going through and use what little bit of celebrity status that I have left and try to promote the awareness for this disease."
HOW DID YOUR DOCTORS DISCOVER THE CANCER?
"Every piece of me is still intact. I still had all of my wisdom teeth. My back lower wisdom tooth got infected and got in bad shape, so I went to see an oral surgeon. They said my nerves had gone around my jaw area. They said, let's put you on an antibiotic and you finish these last three races and let's just calm the infection down, because if we have to clip this nerve, your face is going to draw for a couple months and we don't want to do that being as you're on camera and stuff. I went all the way through Thanksgiving and the Monday after had the wisdom tooth taken out, and the swelling in my neck didn't go down. The bottom line is a wisdom tooth probably saved my life. When the swelling didn't go down in my neck, I went to the doctor the Thursday before I went down to Daytona and doctor said right then and I went straight over to the hospital and went through surgery. They took it out and sent it off to be tested. It took me two and half-three weeks to know the results."
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THIS?
(Note: Bobby Hamilton Jr. will take over driving duties for the No. 18 Dodge Ram after tonight's race at Atlanta)
BOBBY HAMILTON JR: The situation to come back home to race is really exciting, but the way it worked out is not what we want to experience, but it's life. It's what we're given. We just get in and go and do the best we can for Fastenal and Dodge and everything. He has his goal set for Homestead and that's what we're shooting for. The best way for him to achieve that goal is to get out now and get better and come back at Homestead and race."
DOES PUTTING BOBBY JR. IN THE TRUCK EASE YOUR MIND?
BOBBY HAMILTON: "Well it means I don't have to worry about a contract being broken."