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Statement from Sterling Marlin (Marlin is a Tennessee native and a good friend of Hamilton):
“Bobby was a great guy and a good friend. This sport is really going to miss him. He was a hard, clean racer and a really talented driver. We started racing right about the same time and he was a fierce competitor. He knew what he wanted to do and he made it happen.
“But at the same time he’d give anyone the shirt off his back. He was a sincere man that genuinely cared about people. “We flew a lot of miles together to and from races and test sessions and made some good memories together. Everyone in the racing world will miss him.”
Statement from Joe Nemechek (Nemechek was teammates with Hamilton at Andy Petree Racing from 2000-2001):
“It’s hard to put into words how you feel when something like this happens. It’s just hard to believe. It seems like yesterday I was helping to push Bobby to victory at Talladega back in ’01.
“It hits close to home when something like this happens. It’s like when I lost my brother… anytime you’re close to someone and you know them well it just makes your heart hurt. “Bobby was a heck of a racecar driver. He was a family man and loved his kids and his grand kids.
“It’s a sad time. He’ll be missed, but we’ll keep him in our thoughts and prayers.”
Statement from Mark Martin:
“Bobby was one of the most down to earth people that I have ever been around. He treated everyone the same no matter who you were or what you did. He was just a really good guy. “He was a very unique person and he was a great competitor on the racetrack, and it’s just a huge loss for everyone in the racing family and our thoughts are prayers are with his family at this time.”
Statement from Kasey Kahne:
“I was really surprised and sad. That’s someone I’ve looked up to just because of his work ethic and the way he got into NASCAR and the way he’s run his teams. He’s always had to battle and fight to do what he’s done. I was surprised. I thought he was doing better than that. I just heard last night, but he had a great career in NASCAR for sure.”
Statement from Jimmy Elledge (Elledge got his first victory as a crew chief with driver Hamilton at Talladega in 2001):
“When we won that race at Talladega, that was back when we ran a practice motor and then put another motor in for the race. Bobby went out and ran a little bit and came back in and parked the car. He wouldn’t tell me anything about the car, so I followed him into the truck. He was changing clothes and I asked him if we needed to do anything to the car.
“He said no and asked me if the race motor was a little better. I told him it had a couple more horsepower and he said we’d be fine. You had to pry it out of him, but he knew we were going to be good and we won the race the next day.
“Bobby really meant a lot to me. He’s the guy I won my first race with and so far it’s still my only win. Bobby taught me a lot about a lot of things. When he came to the team in 2001 that team was two years old and he came in and really embraced the guys. He really had some neat qualities. He came over every week and spent the day with us and took us to lunch and stuff. He was a real solid figure that that team needed at the time, and I needed, too. He’d calm me down when I’d get upset.
“One of the funniest things that happened was probably at Sonoma. He had his transmission hanging up. We were running really good. The caution had come out and we were right behind Jeff Gordon. I told him he had to pit this time by because the lap-down cars pit with the lead-lap cars on the road course. I told him if we got good track position we could get our lap back.
“He didn’t pit and I went off. I started yelling at him. I was cussing and raising cain, and he was laughing. He said ‘just calm down, everything will be fine.’ That’s the way he was. Instead of yelling back at me he was laughing at me.
“I didn’t get to talk to him a lot after he got the cancer. I talked to him at Martinsville once, and he said he thought everything was going to be OK. I talk to Bobby [Hamilton] Jr. a lot. He was probably the best link I had to keeping up with him. I went hunting in December with Andy Petree and he kept me up to speed. It’s unfortunate. It’s a huge loss, but you just never know. A couple years ago he was the champion, then he’s diagnosed with cancer and bam, it’s done.
“I hate it for the whole family. He got a special treat with his little grand daughter. When Dale [Earnhardt] Sr. passed away I know how I felt that [my] kids never got a chance to know him. The time he had with his grand daughter was precious, and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”
“It’s really odd. Yesterday before I left to come down here, I’m building a building and I’m building a room to put the car we won Talladega with in. Andy [Petree] gave me the car, and I’m going to fix it and put it in the showroom. I came across the trophy we got at Talladega and one of the screws had come out. I was fixing the trophy and put it in a closest.
“I thought it was a shame. You win trophies and you move and you go through life and see a trophy you won five years ago and I was just thinking about that day we won at Talladega yesterday. When we got here John Darby had called and left me a message, and I thought that was really strange that I had been thinking about that win earlier in the day.
“You know the inevitable will happen eventually, but you hope it doesn’t happen. When I got the phone call I was very disappointed and upset, but at the same time you don’t [want] anybody to suffer. I know he’s in a better place now. It’s unfortunate for all of us here. We wish we still had him here, but you prepare yourself in a situation like this. You know the time is limited, but it’s a sad, sad day. That’s for sure”
Statement from Robbie Loomis:
“I worked with Bobby for three years at Petty Enterprises, ’95, ’96 and ’97. I won my first race with Bobby at Phoenix. We were talking about it last night on the airplane, and the neatest thing about Hamilton was he kept the fun in racing. We had just as much fun probably through the bad times as when we won. We enjoyed it more when we won. I remember the night he won. He went back to the hotel and ordered pizza and was happy as could be.
“Hamilton was never about the TV or interviews. He got in there and did his deal. I think that was the neatest part about it. A lot of drivers come in nowadays and try to emulate someone’s style or they try to wear long hair or short hair or sideburns. Hamilton just came in and stayed true to himself and never wavered from that.
“We also won a race at Rockingham in ’97, and that was our last year together. Hamilton was a unique guy. He was special. He did his deal, and I think if you look at the way his cancer went it was just like the way he lived his life. He did it quietly and nobody knew a lot about what was going on. He just did his deal. Now he’s up there in heaven probably thinking he’s glad it’s over with.
“We stayed in touch. Richard and Kyle flew us up to see him last summer on the way to California. We saw his race shop and had lunch with him. It was a neat deal, but you could look at him and see it had really taken a toll on him. Being away from him knowing he’s going through it is one thing, but when you see him and see what he’s going through it’s a whole different thing. It changed his whole perspective I think.
“We all hold racing up as the biggest thing in all our lives and it showed us all how big life really is compared to racing. It caught me by surprise. I knew he was in bad shape, but the timing of it caught me by surprise.”
Statement from Mike Accavitti, Director, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Product Planning:
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hamilton family and Bobby Hamilton Racing with the sad news of Bobby’s passing. Bobby was a great competitor, a great leader and a great man. We were proud to to be associated with him for so many years. We will always remember him for the champion that he was.”
Statement from Kansas Speedway:
“Kansas Speedway was saddened to learn of the passing of NASCAR driver and team owner Bobby Hamilton,” said Jeff Boerger, Kansas Speedway president. “Bobby was a true competitor and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and everyone at Bobby Hamilton Racing during this time.”
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