Kevin Hamlin gets letters congratulating him on his win in Atlanta in 2001 and e-mails from fans telling him he is their favorite crew chief. Problem is, Kevin Hamlin isn't the crew chief for the No. 29 Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo driven by Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. This Kevin Hamlin is a driver in the NASCAR Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series-and a good one at that.
Kevin Hamlin, the driver, takes it all in stride.
"It is pretty comical," he says. "One publication wrote a piece about us and said that if we could just swap our paychecks everything would be OK. When I went to Atlanta for the NASCAR champions weekend I was fortunate to meet him. We sat outside his hauler and chatted for about 15 minutes. He is a really cool down-to-earth guy. You can tell he wants to win races.
"There have been a few articles talking about if Kevin Hamlin ever drove for Kevin Hamlin. Hopefully one day there will be an opportunity to work with him."
For now, Hamlin is busy with his work in the Northwest Series, a regional touring division for Late Models. Hamlin won the 2001 series championship.
The 22-year-old Washington native was literally born into racing. His parents, avid racers as well, met at the track. "I was born on a Thursday, I think, and that Saturday I was out at the track," Hamlin says. He was probably one of those kids who would only fall asleep when they heard the roar of race cars around a track.
Hamlin claims his racing career goes back to the tender age of 3. "When I was 3, I started racing three-wheelers. When I was 6, I raced quarter midgets. I quit those at 14 and got into Late Models when I was 16," he says.
In those eight years of West Coast quarter-midget competition, Hamlin brought home eight regional championships and one national championship.
In 1996 Hamlin started his Late Model career with the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. His first Late Model effort earned him a 12th-place finish. Not bad for a kid who had never raced a car with fenders.
Hamlin's sophomore year in Late Models started off with two victories in the first two races of the season. It was then that he became the youngest winner of a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series event at Evergreen Speedway. He was 17. He finished up that same year with one more win and the Rookie of the Year title under his belt.
The next year, 1998, was Hamlin's rookie year in the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. In 1999, at age 19 years, 11 months, he became the youngest race winner in series history. And finally, in 2001, a third youngest title came to Hamlin-the youngest champion in series history.
In 2001 Hamlin earned four victories out of the 13 races he ran in the No. 33 Chevy Monte Carlo. Don Scriver and Tom Brown own the car. Along with 11 Top 5s and 11 Top 10s, Hamlin brought home two poles, and ended the year with no DNFs.
"I take pride in my team because we work so hard," Hamlin says. "We do what we need to on the cars at the shop. When we get to the track the car is ready to unload. We don't unload it and finish it at the track."
By starting his racing career at such an early age, Hamlin knows that he missed out on some things as a kid. "I couldn't play high school sports my junior or senior year," he says. "For one, I didn't have the time. But, since I was getting paid winning races, I was considered a professional and was not allowed to play high school sports. Really, if I could have played, I wouldn't have had the time anyway because there was always a race to go to or a car to work on. Though, if I had to do it all over again, I would take the same road. I don't regret any of it."
Hamlin's will focus is on another Northwest Series championship. "There has only been one other person who has won back to back. I would like to be able to do that," he says. "I think that if I am involved in racing until the day I die, I'll be happy. I would like to be a Herschel McGriff and drive until I am almost 80. Until I know that I can't run for wins anymore, that is when it will be time to make a career move within the racing industry."
Name: Kevin HamlinBirthdate: June 22, 1979
Resides: Snohomish, WAMarital Status: Single
Racing Involvement: Driver of the No. 33 American Dream Motorsports/Berryman Products Port City Chevy Monte Carlo