Driver races for comeback 

Davey Hamilton decides to come back to racing after a terrible crash.

It's been four years and 21 surgeries since the crash.

Days before the anniversary of the Indy Racing League nightmare that nearly made him a double amputee, Davey Hamilton, 42, announced he will attempt a comeback.

"My goal initially was just to live," said Hamilton, who was on hand to watch Friday night racing action at the quarter-mile oval track in Meridian that he helps promote. "The thought of racing again came to mind, but I decided against it. I thought, 'Here I am healed up, doing well and still traveling with the IRL. My son is racing and doing well ... it's just the right thing to do.'"

Lately, Hamilton has been working as a spotter for the Red Bull Cheever Racing team, contributing his expertise at engineering meetings and thrilling fans with 180 mile-per-hour laps around the track in the IRL's two-seater demo car. Sitting behind the wheel was intended as physical therapy, but has now fueled his desire to make a return to competitive racing.

"I thought about it more and I've decided I'm going for it," said Hamilton, whose last surgery was two years ago. "I want to do it."

There is a catch, of sorts, however.

"I won't do it unless I have the proper program," Hamilton added. "And there are plenty of teams who want to help. In Indy racing you have to have the right car and the right motor if you want to win."

It was only minutes following the informal announcement at Meridian Speedway that local Sprint driver Cody Veenstra, 19, struck a barrier, flipped upside down and slammed into the retaining wall while driving Hamilton's go-kart. Veenstra, who fell out of the kart and landed on his back, walked away with only rattled nerves, but the crash snapped the tiny rear axle.

"Dang, that was my kart he was driving,"Hamilton said, who, grinning, seemed unfazed by the excitement. "I'm just glad he's alright."

Four years ago, Hamilton wasn't so lucky. He was driving in the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series' Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway when he was the victim of a crash that sent his car over the concrete retaining wall and into the fence.

"I was trying to pass Jeret Schroeder," he explained. "After about 10 laps his engine blew. I tried getting on the throttle, but oil got on my tires and there wasn't enough room to get by him."

Fence poles sheared away the front end of the car before it spun, flipped, slid back down across the track and finally came to a stop in the infield.

Hamilton tried climbing out of the car but did not realize his legs were badly injured, or that both feet were nearly severed at the ankles and hanging on by only a few pieces of skin and bone. Doctors back in Indianapolis pieced his broken feet back together with 15 pins in one and 13 pins plus a rod in the other. The Borah High School graduate made slow progress, but eventually found himself once again mashing down the clutch of an Indy racing car.

"I was happy just to be able to walk," said Hamilton, whose son Davey Jr., 8, started racing karts this year. "I was in a wheelchair for a year and didn't know how things were going to turn out. I just wanted to live, to be able to carry my kids on my shoulders. But I'm back now, and I'm hungry."

A comeback is not just wishful thinking. Kenny Brack, 39, is well on his way after a severe crash in 2003, which occurred at the same Texas speedway where Hamilton suffered his injuries. Brack recently jumped into Buddy Rice's car at the Indianapolis 500 on short notice, shocking the field of drivers with the fastest time trial. He finished 26 of 33 cars because of a loose steering column, coming in well behind teammates Vitor Meira, who finished second, Danica Patrick, fourth and Dan Wheldon who won the race. He will appear again in Rahal Letterman Racing's No. 15 car at Texas Motor Speedway June 11. Not bad for a guy who almost died.

Meanwhile, Hamilton, who is using Brack's comeback success as inspiration, is making phone calls, trying to get ready for next season and watching Davey Jr. follow in his footsteps. So far, things are going well for the third-generation racer, who won his first Outlaw Kart Championship in the Caldwell Winter Series a couple of months ago. Daughter Hailey, 5, doesn't show much interest in racing, which Hamilton says is a relief. Where Davey Jr. is concerned, "I'd rather see him take up golf," he said.

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