Indy Racing League driver Davey Hamilton has confirmed he is the owner of the newly-formed Supermodified Racing League. And he has the blessings of the IRL.
"This is not a racing club, it's a business," said Hamilton. "I own the business. I started a new company."
Hamilton, a Las Vegas resident, said the "old deal," the Western Supermodified Racing Association was a hobby thing, but was dying out. Interest was gone and the drivers weren't showing up.
"There are 62 cars in the Western U.S. But only 10, 11 or 12 cars have been showing up at the races lately. Every racer we've talked to is backing us. I have not met one guy that's not for it (the new series)."
The first official race of the SRL will be the Copper World Classic held in Phoenix in February. They plan to contact Silver State Raceway owner Larry Burton to possibly book a date with him for the 2000 race season. Tracks already booked include Irwindale and Madera in California, Portland, Ore., Boise and Phoenix.
"These are speedways we've ran before on the West Coast," Hamilton said. "There are a lot of tracks. We have not confirmed the schedule at this point, but should have it completed in the next two weeks."
The business does not interfere with his driving commitment in the Indy Racing League - Hamilton has longtime friend Brad Belveal running the operation for him.
"Davey and I grew up together in Boise, Idaho, and went to high school together," Belveal said. "I spent the last two years with United Airlines taking care of Davey's travel arrangements. Then he came to me with this offer - and I about dropped the phone.
"I've worked on supermods here in Boise. My background stems in drag racing - AHRA. I also announced at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway for a couple of summers, and announced for seven years at Firebird Track in Boise, 1979-86."
Belveal confirmed they have the IRL behind them.
"Tony George and Andy Hall met with us in Las Vegas in September and we put together a deal called 'The Road to Indy.'
"The drivers wear a patch on their suit and have decals on the car. And they've added $10,000 to the points fund - $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 to the top-3 respectively.
"Tony looks very highly upon Davey. He commands a lot of respect from the business. Anything we need, we just call the guys in Indy to get help."
Belveal said they are looking for a series sponsor and have a couple of deals out in the field they're hoping to sign.
What Hamilton and Belveal are working on most is returning the series back to a basic or simple line of operations. It was through supermodified racing that Hamilton got his start in racing.
"Davey's very committed to this because this is how he got to where he is today. Plus he's doing it for the love of the sport. One hundred percent of the money for this has come from his own pocket. - he's now in a position to give back to the sport.
"Plus Davey feels it needs to be run more as a business than a club. When it's a club, you have a racer running it, then the favoritism thing is going on. We've talked with a lot of drivers and they're all for the new series."
Hamilton has also dropped the cost to track promoters of having the series race at their tracks.
"The Western Supermodified Racing Association would ask for $22,000-$24,000 to pay their purse. Davey has dropped that cost to $16,350. This is part of why he saw the need for the series to be modified or saved, or there wouldn't be a race series on the West Coast."
A $5,000 Rookie of the Year program has also been added in attempts to bring in new blood. They will also be using IRL driver Paul Durant as an advisory board member along with an owner, driver and engine builder, to use their advice throughout the season, as a neutral body.
"We're getting back to basics in a new way. With TV, radio ads, putting a car on display, using the old markets. Also signature cards for the drivers to give out to the fans. A little sticker or a decal go a long way for the little kids. It gains visibility, gets the drivers out and it's something the fans can relate to. It helps intertwine the whole thing together. It's looking very promising. Very promising.
"I'm not known (to the racing world), but I'm not coming in cold. This opportunity came along and I was in a position to oh, do something different. So I'm looking forward to it because this league can only grow."
The series' web site should be up in a couple of weeks at supermodifiedracing.com.