MANHEIM, Pa. — Legendary Central Pennsylvania sprint car team owner Al Hamilton has died at the age of 91.
Hamilton, who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2003, was an active sprint car owner for more than four decades.
An entrepreneur, Hamilton was the owner of several businesses in and around Lancaster, Pa. In the 1950s, he tried his hand at racing stock cars, late models and modifieds before eventually making his way into a sprint car in 1967.
His stint as a sprint car driver was brief, notching a fifth-place result at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway. He soon became a team owner rather than a driver and he hired Mus Weyant to drive the car.
Weyant was the first of several drivers to take a turn behind the wheel of cars owned by Hamilton. For 40 seasons a number of top drivers would take turns wheeling his car, with drivers such as Jan Opperman, Kramer Williamson, Mitch Smith, Lynn Paxton, Stevie Smith, Danny Lasoski, Fred Rahmer, Johnny Herrera, Joe Gaerte, Greg Hodnett, Lance Dewease and Keith Kauffman driving his cars.
He spent six years away from the sport beginning in 1976 before returning in 1983 as a car owner with Paxton piloting Hamilton’s car to a win in the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway.
Hamilton hit the road with the World of Outlaws in 1990 with Smith as his driver. Together they won 40 features and nearly won the 1993 Knoxville Nationals. Hamilton eventually returned to race full time in Central Pennsylvania in 1996, where he continued to be a powerhouse team owner with a multitude of drivers.
His lengthy career as a team owner saw him capture hundreds of victories and more than 20 track championships at numerous Pennsylvania tracks, including four at Port Royal Speedway and eight at Williams Grove Speedway.