Sam Schmidt and Davey Hamilton have been rivals, teammates and friends for almost the past two decades. Now they have formed a partnership to strengthen the IZOD IndyCar Series team.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Davey to the team,” Schmidt said in announcing Schmidt/Hamilton Racing with Simon Pagenaud driving the No. 77 car. “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 almost 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.”
Hamilton drove full time in the series from 1996-2001, finishing runner-up in the championship 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. 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 IZOD IndyCar Series 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.
Schmidt returned to the IZOD IndyCar Series as a full-season team owner in 2011 by purchasing the assets of FAZZT Race Team.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which entered Firestone Indy Lights competition in 2002 and has produced five series champions, will retain its entries as a separate entity.