FORT WAYNE, Ind. – One of the Rumble in Fort Wayne’s longest-tenured drivers has linked up with one of its winningest car owners for this weekend’s silver anniversary event.
Kyle Hamilton, who won the finale of the 2016 Rumble while driving for the ageless Mel Kenyon, will strap into Randy Burrow’s potent No. 99 Volkswagen-powered midget Friday and Saturday inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
It’s a bit of an odd pairing for those who have seen Hamilton racing either his family-owned ride or for the Kenyon brothers in the past, but the Indianapolis native tipped he’s excited for the new opportunity.
“Who would have thought, right?” Hamilton joked after Thursday night’s open practice session. “All the years that I’ve raced against Randy’s cars and now I’m driving for him this weekend. It’s a cool deal.
“I guess weird things happen sometimes in this building.”
Hamilton takes the reins of the car that Billy Wease drove to five Rumble victories between 2007 and 2015. It’s a chassis originally built by Mike Fedorcak that Burrow has modified somewhat over the years.
Burrow said Thursday night that the deal between he and Hamilton came together with one phone call in mid-October, when he knew that he’d be looking for a driver for one of his cars this winter.
“I just called Kyle up and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for somebody to race one of my cars at the Rumble; would you be interested?’” Burrow recalled. “He was really excited … surprised that the chance was there, but I’m really looking forward to working with him.
“I wanted to have somebody that I knew could give us a shot to go out and win another Rumble.”
A veteran of 20 Rumble feature starts, Hamilton has five top-five finishes in his Coliseum career, including his 2016 victory. He finished fifth on opening night last year in his family’s No. 32 entry.
That kind of history has Hamilton brimming with confidence that he can get back to victory lane.
“Obviously, Randy knows that I can get around this place, and I know his car can get around here well too,” Hamilton noted. “This car has won here five times and been competitive every time it rolls in here, so I’d say we have high expectations going in, for sure.
“Randy and I have known each other for a long time. My brother Nick drove Randy’s sprint car in the past, and Randy has come by our family’s auto business a couple times just to swap stories. So we’ve talked plenty in the past,” he added. “He didn’t feel too shy about calling, that’s for sure.
“I really am looking forward to this. It’s a competitive car and I’m hungry for another Rumble trophy.”
Hamilton, who helped Klatt Enterprises claim the 2019 USAC Silver Crown Series owner’s title and boasts wins in Silver Crown, USAC midgets, and the non-winged sprint car Little 500 in addition to his Rumble accolades, retired from full-time racing in 2021 just weeks shy of his 29th birthday.
However, he stepped out of retirement to compete in last year’s Rumble and tipped that he still feels the pull to come back for this race each year, even if he’s no longer driving on a week-to-week basis.
“Man, the Rumble was one of the races that I really had a hard time giving up when I (first) stopped racing,” Hamilton explained. “Just the nature of it … I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid. My first time racing here was in 2006, and we’ve been coming here as a family every year since. I’ve always been pretty good here, even though I’ve only got one win. I’ve always felt like I could get around here pretty well because it just fits a lot of my strengths as a driver.
“I talked it over with the wife a little bit before I told Randy I’d race, but we felt like it was a good opportunity for me to still get out and turn some laps indoors. It’s been fun so far. I don’t know that it’ll turn into much else, and that’s OK with me. It’s just fun to come in here and run because I’ve been racing against some of these guys in the pits for about 15 years now, so it’s fun to rekindle those rivalries a bit.
“We get to come up and bump wheels with each other every year and then go back to our day jobs,” added Hamilton, who works for Curtis Motor Sales – his family’s used car dealership – through the week. “That’s a special dynamic that not a lot of events in racing can say they have, but we have it here.”
Live action from the 25th Rumble in Fort Wayne presented by Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales can be viewed Friday and Saturday through Pit Row TV, part of the SPEED SPORT Network.
Broadcast access is available to all Pit Row TV subscribers. Packages start at $24.99/month.
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