There are a lot of racing veterans in this world. There are a lot of people who could author volumes of books about racing. Many have a laundry list of knowledge about the machines themselves, the racecars. And there are plenty of brave souls who were once talented racecar drivers.
Few people have all of those qualities. However, Robert Hamke is one of those special few.
Hamke, owner of Hamke Race Cars & Parts, knows almost everything there is to know about racing, and he’s been around the sport for just as long.
Hamke got his first exposure to racecars back in 1959 when he was just 12 years old. He started racing half midgets and gokarts. Then, he moved from Indianapolis to Miami and soon started building karts when, as Hamke says, “Go-karts were a big deal.”
Hamke continued to refine his craft of building race cars and racing them at the same time, driving super modifieds, late models and more.
In 1977, Hamke broke his leg in a crash at New Smyrna (FL) Speedway and was out of the cockpit for seven agonizing months, so he began to spend his time fixing other competitors’ cars. And that is how Hamke Race Cars and Parts started.
Officially, the business launched in 1981. In 1987, Hamke relocated from Florida to North Carolina, where the shop remains today.
Over the years, Hamke has worked with some of the biggest and brightest stars in the business. He’s built cars for the likes of Donnie Allison, Kenny Schrader, Jeremy Mayfield, David Stremme, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, Steve Wallace, Jeff Fultz, Scott Hansen, John Hunter Nemechek and so many more.
As one might expect, the wins and championships have come by the truckload. So many, in fact, that Hamke doesn’t even keep track, nor remember. “I’ve won all the championships and the big races. I just want to keep winning them,” he says.
While Hamke continues to run one of the most successful racing businesses in the industry, he is quick to point out that even though he is not racing on the track anymore, he’s not a “retired” driver.
“It gets kind of hard racing against your customers,” said Hamke. “I ain’t ever quit racing yet though. I just haven’t raced for awhile. I am pretty much done, but I can still go fast.”