Behind every driver there are pit crews, sponsors, friends and families who make it possible for them to race at Speedway 660 every week. But being a driver’s Mom may be the hardest job, worrying about her daughter or son out on the race track. Wade Wilson recently talked with Brenda Cameron, Dana Hamm’s Mom, about her son’s racing career.
Talkin with Dana’s Mom
Wade: Hello Brenda. How did you develop such a strong love for stock car racing?
Brenda: My Dad Bob raced in several series in Ontario at Cayuga and Barrie Speedways and in the USA, so I started going to the races when I was in still in diapers. I spent my summers at dirt and asphalt tracks and still associate the smells, sounds and people at the track with my Dad. When I hear “gentlemen start your engines” I still tear up, even though he’s been gone for 16 years.
It’s sad he never got to meet Dana or see him race because I know he would be very proud and a big influence on him. Deep down I believe he is with Dana every lap and helps keep him safe. Weekends at Speedway 660 continues to keep Dad’s memory alive and I’m proud that Dana races Dad’s number 46, which is also the number Dana’s father Troy used when he raced here.Brenda Cameron is a proud racing Mom. Her son Dana Hamm, who now runs a Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock, is the 2011 Westwood Estate Apartments Bandolero champion.
Wade: Dana started racing go-karts when he was about four. Now at 16 he’s in the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock Division. That’s pretty amazing!
Brenda: Troy and I are very proud of his commitment to racing and his accomplishments. Dana figured out the “four lefts” quite early and knows how to get around the track pretty quick. We knew we had to get him in an organized racing series, when he was building ramps to jump over things and doing donuts till he got dizzy at age four.
So we put him in go-karts, where he won championships in pre-novice (6-8) at age 6; novice (9-13) at 9 and; junior (14-16) when he was only 11 years old. Then he moved into the Bandolero division and finished 2nd the first year and won the Championship the year after. Dana also raced an Atlantic Open Wheel car, when his schedule permitted, and finished 12th in points after running only 4 of 9 races that year. Last year he jumped into the Pro Stock and finished top ten overall.
Dana was first to win three Bando features back-to-back-to-back and he did it with a cast on his arm. He broke it when I ran him over with the car, but let’s not talk about that! At 14 he became the youngest driver to race Pro Stock full time at Speedway 660 and he is the first and youngest at 15 to start and finish the Irving 250. He finished in the top 15.It didn’t take Dana long to become one of Speedway 660′s top “Bando Boys”, back in 2010, when he moved up from go-karts. His Mom Brenda has supported his racing career every step of the way.
Wade: Dana was the first driver to jump from Bandos to Pro Stock and now his good buddy Cole Boudreau is racing the big cars too. Last year we saw Alexandra O’Blenis become the first girl to run a pro stock here. These kids are incredible.
Brenda: They sure are incredible and they have great race sense, maturity, knowledge and respect. They are making people sit up and take notice and I believe these kids are going to elevate the level of racing here at 660. They may be young but have the desire and drive to be successful. Last year Destiny, Kenny, Alexandra, Cole and Dana not only held their own in their new divisions, but out raced many experienced drivers for great finishes.
Cole and Dana have a unique friendship. They began go-karting together around 2003 and established their trade mark “PEACH FUZZ” partnership several years ago. They talk during the week and usually park beside each other in the pits. It’s a friendship which I am sure will continue for many years to come. Our two families get along great too, Mike and Troy help each other out any way they can and Angela and I cross our fingers hold our breath till the boys get out of their cars at the end of the race.These days Dana drives a big powerful Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock. He loves all of that speed and power, but it sure keeps Mom on the edge of her seat.
Wade: You guys have gone down south to race and Dana and other young Canadian racers have more than held their own against the Americans.
Brenda: Dana finished 5th at the 2010 Winter nationals in Florida in a new Sellers built car. It was a trip he really enjoyed and he continues to keep in touch with several of the drivers he met there. Alicia, Cole, Ryan and Dawson also went down that year and were very competitive in their classes.
Our kids at 660 are much better at running side by side and even three-wide than the Americans. There’s no doubt the caliber of racing in Bando’s here is superior to many weekly shows in the States.Dana’s Dad Troy, a former Speedway 660 driver, has been a big influence on his son’s racing career. Winning that Bando championship, three years ago, was a special highlight of Dana’s career for Troy and Brenda, the proud parents of one of our rising young stars.
Wade: Lots of Canadian kids and their parents are focused on hockey. But down here at Speedway 660 we are seeing lots of girls and boys who are every bit as dedicated to racing as hockey players are to their sport.
Brenda: Dana plays recreational hockey in Oromocto and has the reputation for often having the most goals and the most penalties in the same game! Early on his Dad and I knew Dana was a very “hands-on” kid. He started turning wrenches back in his go-kart days and designed his own Bando and Pro Stock paint schemes. He’s responsible for securing sponsorships and takes an active role in the car setup and maintenance. Dana is always learning, reading and researching setups and other race related topics.
Several veteran drivers including: Lonnie Sommerville, Shawn Tucker, Dave O’Blenis and Paul Gahan have been terrific to Dana, offering advice, guidance, instruction and support.
“Big Troy” is our crew chief and the calm personality of the #46 race team. He and his wife Colleen have been involved in Dana’s racing career since go-karts. He is often the peace keeper between Dana and “Dad Troy” when they have different opinions on the car. Colleen keeps things running smoothly and is always around the car to help any way she can. Dana very much appreciates the time they put into his race program and he and “Big Troy” have a very close relationship.Dana Hamm (#46) leads a recent Pro Stock race at Speedway 660. His good buddy Cole Boudreau (#00) is another teenager who is having some sweet success in the Geary Woods!
Wade: With your years of involvement in racing, how do you separate your role of managing Dana’s race team and taking time to be Mom?
Brenda: It’s hard. I’ve travelled with him to the States because my schedule is more flexible than his Dad’s. I do many race related activities with him during the week, especially being his taxi when he needs to go places. I drive him to meet with potential sponsors, media events, to pick up parts, to go to race shops, to name a few. But that will all change with the 16th birthday and new beginners license because Dana will now be driving me to do these errands. This might prove interesting to say the least.Just like his Mom did, Dana is growing up at a race track. This talented teenager is fortunate to have a family who loves our sport and supports his racing career.
Wade: And how about school, do you have those typical parents/teenager struggles over homework?
Brenda: I’m a teacher so sometimes Dana and I struggle and do battle over school assignments and home-work. He’ll spend countless hours on race related activities but tries to find the quickest and easiest way to get through school work. He knows he needs to keep his marks up and does most of the time. He also knows it’s hard to escape Mom because she teaches at Leo Hayes, the same school he goes to.
At the track I try to be the cheerleader and proud Mom and leave the rest to the other great members of the #46 race team unless they need something.
Wade: Dana was very close to Jordan Gahan. We were all saddened when we heard Jordan died in an industrial accident out west.
Brenda: Dana misses his mentor and “big brother” Jordan. He used to spend a lot of time with Jordan at the shop working on cars and learning a lot from the Gahan team. He had been so excited about the 2014 season and was looking forward to working with Jordan again this year. Dana has wonderful memories of a good friend and mentor.
Dana is the only driver from the USA and Canada chosen to receive a full scholarship at Racing 101 in Charlotte NC for 2015, an opportunity which now has even more meaning because Jordan was a student there two years ago. In his short lifetime Jordan Gahan made a lot of friends and left lasting memories. Dana’s Mom Brenda credits Jordan for being a great role model and a positive influence on her son.
Wade: Thanks for doing this Brenda. You have really given us a unique perspective about racing. All the best in the future and we look forward to following Dana’s racing career.
Brenda: Thanks and I would like to shout out to all the Mom’s and Step-Moms who play a huge role in the success of each team. They sacrifice many vacations and weekends to be part of a “race family”. Some are active in the day to day team operations, while others are the biggest cheerleaders and meal makers. Just knowing Mom is there often gives the younger drivers the confidence to go out and give it their best effort. We Moms are the ones standing nervous and anxious when our child goes out onto the track. We say our little prayer, we cross our fingers, we cheer good and loud and we give the biggest sigh of relief when they take that helmet off safe and sound at the end of each race.
I want to thank-you Wade for being the voice of 660 for all these years. You may not realise it, but it’s a big deal when our kids get to victory lane or the podium and have the opportunity to talk to you. Those interviews are entertaining and well worth hearing, especially when they get those first-ever wins!