Nic Hammann Thrived In Homecoming Race

Nic Hammann thrived at his hometown race at Road America. (Photo Credit: Michael McGill)

Nic Hammann thrived at his hometown race at Road America. (Photo Credit: Michael McGill)

A solid day at home

Nic Hammann, a native of Elkhart Lake, Wis., scored an impressive 15th-place finish at Road America. This was the best finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career, only making his fourth start. All four of his starts have come with Mike Harmon Racing.

Driving for one of the smaller teams in the XFINITY garage, Hammann put together a spectacular drive in front of his home crowd. Without a doubt, the No. 74 Chevrolet Camaro SS earned a solid result at the 4.048-mile road course.

“I first met Mike Harmon when he stopped by my family’s repair shop in Elkhart Lake, Wis. that Cal and Gus Motors started in 1934,”  Hammann told The Podium Finish. “I was working there in the summer changing tires/oil, brakes, etc.”

Harmon arrived at the shop, due to a flat tire on his trailer. Luckily, Hammann fixed it and told Mike that he was going to school in Charlotte. Ultimately, Harmon gave Hammann his business card. He told the young man to give him a call if he would be interested in helping the team when returning to the Charlotte area for school.

“Growing up in Elkhart Lake, it was so very special to finish 15th at Road America with so many family and friends watching from the side of the track,” said Hammann.

“When I first started looking at racing in NASCAR Xfinity, in 2016, the goal was always to finish inside the top-20, but this year with the local support onboard it was extra special to finish 15th.”

Can you imagine that a flat tire could lead to racing in NASCAR at your home track?

The entire effort would not be possible without local sponsors: Throttleshop, Custom Fiberglass Molding, Dad’s Excavating, Green Industrial, Sippel Racing/Richards of Dunbar, The Gearbox and Northwoods Shelby Club.

Hammann believes the support from local businesses is similar to the old days of racing, hopping on board to support a hometown driver.

Racing and College

In May 2018, Hammann graduated from UNC Charlotte, with a Mechanical Engineering degree concentrating in motorsports. He chose Niner Nation, due to the large focus on motorsports, in general.

“I started school at UNCC in the fall of 2012 with the focus of graduating and getting a job in NASCAR as a team engineer but how things would change,” said Hammann.

“All the technical electives were in motorsports, from Tire Mechanics to Applied Vehicle Aerodynamics. I knew I wanted to be involved with cars/racing and thought no better place than the mecca of motorsports in Charlotte, North Carolina.”

During this time, Hammann volunteered for a road racing team, based in the Queen City on the weekends. In his sophomore year, he interned with BMW Manufacturing in South Carolina.

Unknowingly, Hammann would be racing for Nissan, two years later. This opened the door for new opportunities in motorsports. He became the 2014 Nissan GT Academy North America winner. Hammann described the entire experience as “life-changing.”

At age 6, a young Hammann began racing go-karts at Road America. Then, transitioned to car racing at age 16, competing in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Next, the goal was to attend college, continue club racing and get an engineering job post-graduation.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a factory driver for Nissan,” said Hammann.

After earning his Nissan factory drive, Hammann moved to England, getting a better understanding of life as a professional racing driver. He trained in driving, media and physical fitness for two and a half months. This “transformed” his racing career. The first professional race of Hammann’s career was the 2015 24 Hours of Dubai, driving a Nissan GT3 car.

The Nissan GT Academy driver and his co-drivers finished fifth overall and second in the GT3 Am class. A strong performance in Dubai led to more opportunities, competing at places such as Moscow Raceway in Russia and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

To say the least, he was truly living the racing dream.

With his racing career taking off, Hammann put his education on hold. However, he returned to UNC Charlotte in fall 2015. Being a dedicated student, he took some red-eye flights from his races back to Charlotte, so he would not miss his 8 a.m. class. Later on, Hammann started a new internship, this time with Honda Research and Development Americas in Ohio. He interned in the suspension development department.

“Once I worked in the suspension development group, I knew I wanted to work full-time with Honda,” said Hammann.

Ultimately, tons of studying and long nights were totally worth it, in the end. In fact, Nic Hammann graduated from UNC Charlotte with a 4.0 GPA. He started his job with Honda, a few weeks later.

Hammann truly enjoys his job because it requires a nice balance of engineering and driving. His department is in charge of setting vehicle specs for springs, shocks and sway bars. In the future, he hopes to improve his technical engineering skills through Honda. When he is not working, Honda allows Hammann to continue his passion behind the wheel as well.

“Honda R&D has an amazing program called THR (TeamHonda Research) which supports Honda associates to race,” said Hammann.

“Honda provides vehicles that associates can prepare for club racing. Currently, I am racing a Honda S2000 in NASA Honda Challenge with the support of Honda.”

Fun Facts

To celebrate his college graduation, Hammann bought a 1993 Ford Escort GT for $400. He found this car from an ad on Craigslist. Therefore, Hammann and his dad boarded a plane to Boise, Idaho. After arriving at the location, they got the car running in the previous owner’s driveway. Previously, the car had not been in operation for three years.

Instead of flying back home to Wisconsin, Nic Hammann and his dad drove the car all the way to Elkhart Lake. The trip was uneventful, despite a hardwired fan and having to clutch start the car. Traveling 1800 miles with his dad, in the car they got running again, turned into a great memory between father and son.

In his free time, Hammann likes running, biking, racing games, working on cars with his dad and watching the show “Roadkill.”

If given the opportunity, he would not shy away from the idea of racing at a NASCAR oval track for the first time.

Kobe Lambeth

My name is Kobe Lambeth and I am a college student at UNC Charlotte. I am a Communications major with a concentration in mass media and minor in journalism. I have been a NASCAR fan since 2007, and my dream is to work in the motorsports industry. In June 2017, my journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow covering high school sports, and leading a Twitter project in hopes of providing expanding coverage throughout the community, with a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, my goal is to provide professional coverage of various disciplines of motorsports such as NASCAR, IndyCar, and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

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