Bobby Hamilton Jr. makes comeback bid in ARCA


If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

That’s the case with Bobby Hamilton Jr. and Carter 2 Motorsports, who have joined forces for Hamilton to return to racing with a full-time effort on the ARCA Series in the 2015 season.

Hamilton and Carter 2 attempted to put together a similar deal for the 2014 season, but the effort fell short. Not this year, however.

MORE: Bobby Hamilton Jr. returns to racing, gets full-time ARCA ride for 2014

MORE:  Bobby Hamilton Jr.’s return to racing ends before it begins

“We are so excited to have (Hamilton) for the entire 2015 season,” team owner Roger Carter said in a team media release. “I have worked together with him in the 1990s, and he is so much fun to work with.

“We also believe he will be a great mentor to our younger drivers this season. He is a total asset to our team and the direction we are headed this season.”

Hamilton, who turned 37 on Jan. 8, has not competed in a NASCAR event since 2011, when he took part in one Camping World Truck Series event.

While he’s raced in all three of NASCAR’s major touring series, including 64 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and 37 in the Truck Series, Hamilton is known primarily for what he did in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In 253 career starts, he earned five wins, as well as 30 top-5 and 63 top-10 finishes, along with four pole awards.

His last ARCA participation was in 1999.

According to The Tennessean newspaper, Hamilton has kept himself busy the last few years. In 2009, he bought Highland Rim Speedway and then in 2011 secured a two-year contract to run races at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn.

Hamilton will drive the No. 97 Nitroforce Industries / Titan 1000 Dodge in the 2015 ARCA season. Carter 2 Motorsports is headquartered in Asheboro, N.C.

In addition to Hamilton’s ride, Carter 2 Motorsports will field two other full-time cars in the ARCA Series, the No. 40 and No. 95 Dodge Chargers, driven by a number of different drivers.

Prior to last year’s deal falling through, Hamilton looked forward to running in ARCA and made comments then that will apply to 2015, as well.

“I’ve always liked running in ARCA,” Hamilton said last year. “Plus, I love the old school car that’s run in the series. I’m also thrilled to be going back to some of the historic short-tracks that ARCA runs on.

“It’s a great series with a bunch of competitive teams. “I would love to finish in the top-10 in driver points for (2015). I want to run the series until I retire and hopefully score a bunch of victories along the way. ARCA brings my career full-circle. It’s sort of like going back home.”

Hamilton is the son of 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, Bobby Hamilton Sr., who passed away following a year-long battle with cancer in 2007.

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Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).