Former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and five-time NASCAR XFINITY Series race winner Bobby Hamilton Jr. is currently faced with a lawsuit regarding accusations of being unable to pay his drivers. Hamilton, who previously drove for Roger Carter in 10 ARCA events in 2015, has made 19 career starts since 1998.
Court documents dated March of 2016 show that driver Kevin Hinckle of Kansas, filed a lawsuit against Hamilton, after Hamilton allegedly breached a contract that he and Hinckle had previously agreed to. According to Hinckle, the two met in 2015 while Hamilton was racing the Carter 2 Motorsports entry. After a deal between Hinckle and Carter 2 fell through, Hinckle says that Hamilton contacted him with plans to start his own ARCA team for the 2016 season.
According to Hinckle, after meeting with Hamilton in August of 2015, he and Hamilton signed a letter of intent for 18 races in 2016, excluding Daytona and Talladega. Under this letter of intent, Hinckle was to pay a total of $60,000 to compete. The first payment of $3,000 was to take place upon the signing of the letter of intent, with the remaining $57,000 paid in installments that Hamilton and Hinckle both agreed on, with Hamilton allegedly signing the letter of intent as “HMI President.”
“I asked Bobby about HMI and he said it was just a standard contract that he had and that it would be fine with the sponsor,” said Hinckle. “He also said High Performance Motorsports was him and Jack (Hughes) was more of a silent partner which he was with Roger (Carter) as well.”
According to the court documents, based on information and belief, “HMI” is neither a formed and an existing entity under Tennessee law, nor is it an entity registered to do business in the state of Tennessee.
Hinckle states that Hamilton sent him instructions via text message on how to wire the payments on the new contract. Hinckle would go on to send payments by wire and one personal check for a total sum of $17,000. The personal check, says Hinckle, was endorsed by High Performance Motorsports.
In September of 2015, Hinckle alleges that Hamilton contacted him with a new proposal to replace the previous letter of intent signed by both parties. This new proposal, per Hinckle, would put him in the car in Daytona as well as the events at Iowa and Berlin. Hinckle further alleges that he and Hamilton both agreed to this new proposal and Hinckle obtained a sponsor for the Daytona event.
In December of 2015 Hinckle says that Hamilton texted him regarding his availability for the pre-race testing being held at Daytona, which Hinckle traveled to and was on hand for. According to Hinckle, Hamilton stated that he was bringing multiple cars down for testing. Hinckle was also bringing two sponsors to Daytona to watch him during testing and to meet with Hamilton.
However, the Monday before testing, Hinckle asserts that Hamilton contacted him to inform him that he wasn’t going to attend the Daytona test, and afterwards both sponsors canceled their plans with Hinckle. Upon arriving in Daytona Hinckle said that he found only one car with a seat that was unable to fit Hinckle. Due to the seat not fitting, Hinckle was unable to test.
The next morning Hinckle said he texted Hamilton about putting their verbal agreement in writing, as Daytona was coming up as well as his final payment. Hamilton allegedly called and began berating Hinckle for being “difficult to work with” because he didn’t trust him and then told Hinckle that he was cancelling his contract and that he would be getting the money back to Hinckle.
According to court documents Hamilton reaffirmed through several texts that Hinckle would be getting his money back and then told Hinckle that his lawyer would contact him regarding a plan to set up getting his money back.
The lawyer then contacted Hinckle by text, but Hinckle says that when he attempted to contact the lawyer they would not answer the phone when called and the number would not permit him to leave a voicemail. Hinckle asked the lawyer to call him, but the lawyer never did.
Hinckle further explained that Hamilton’s lawyer then communicated with him in a series of texts, which, according to Hinckle, were filled with grammatical and spelling errors similar to mistakes found in Hamilton’s texts. According to Hinckle, the lawyer then stated he wanted records of the wire transfers, but afterward, the texts began changing tone from working with Hinckle on getting his money back to Hinckle supposedly being under the initial contract, suggesting that he owed money and if he didn’t appear at Daytona he would be a breach of contract, upon which legal recourse would be taken.
Hinckle said that he then researched the lawyer’s number only to find out that it was a fake number.
Hinckle then sought legal action against Hamilton for fraud, and although Hamilton was served the summons he never showed up for the court date.
Attempts to reach Hamilton regarding this story weren’t met with a response from him or a representative.
Hinckle isn’t the only driver pursuing legal action against Hamilton. Cassie Gannis, the 2012 K&N Pro Series West’s Most Popular Driver, was to make some starts in ARCA for Hamilton in 2016 as well. According to legal documents, an agreement was entered on January 11, 2016, for Gannis to drive a Hamilton-Hughes entry for two events, Talladega on April 29, and Lucas Oil Raceway on July 22. In consideration for Cassie’s exclusive racing rights, the Gannis family was to pay a $12,000 fee, which was paid in two installments on January 11 and February 1.
According to a statement by Cassie’s mother Kathy Gannis, Hamilton suggested the possibility of running a full season because he had an interested U.S. contractor that needed to show diversity in his audits with the government. Hamilton allegedly stated that this potential sponsor would bring in $200,000 if the Gannis family brought in $60,000 showing that they were vested in the agreement. Also, according to the statement by Kathy Gannis, Hamilton wanted $20,000 upon signing of the contract with $40,000 due by April 1 for a total of four races minimum or a full season with the new sponsor.
After discussing race options via an alleged Google Hangout session between Hamilton, a team consultant, and Kathy Gannis, it was decided the team could not financially come up with $60,000 and would stick to the original option of racing at Talladega and Lucas Oil Raceway.
On February 1, the Gannises once again wired $7,000 on time,as per the contract to Hamilton and High Performance Motorsports for the two events. On February 18 a press release was released via Hamilton-Hughes Racing that an agreement was signed with Cassie Gannis.
As Talladega was approaching Hamilton contacted the Gannises with the possibility of changing the Talladega and Lucas Oil Raceway dates to four races in September because the contractor had brought another sponsor to the table that was interested in Cassie specifically because they felt she would relate to their clientele, according to Kathy Gannis. However, they needed to be in the Chicagoland, Kansas, and Kentucky markets.
According to Kathy Gannis, Hamilton also expressed the possibility of competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway as an added bonus. The Gannis’ allege they entered into the exchange in good faith.
In April, Kathy Gannis stated that Hamilton withdrew from competing at the Nashville event to focus on his team. The Gannises alledge they called Hamilton to check in, however Hamilton never returned their calls. They saw Hamilton compete at Talladega, however, he still didn’t contact the Gannises or return their phone calls. According to Kathy Gannis, Hamilton would occasionally send texts saying, “call you later” or “in a meeting,” but by June those texts stopped.
After noticing that Hamilton-Huges Racing stopped fielding cars in the 2016 ARCA campaign, they looked into High Performance Motorsports and noted that it was an LLC in the name of Charles Adcock, who was Hamilton’s brother-in-law.
In July the Gannises were notified that Hamilton had been locked out of his shop. After not receiving any correspondence from Hamilton, the Gannises decided to pursue legal action.
Kathy points out that the ordeal has been difficult on Cassie, who sold her Super Late Model to help the deal with Hamilton transpire.
“Along with working full-time, she is working two other jobs to get back into racing,” says Kathy. “She recently bought another Super Late Model and is slowly getting the parts to put it together to race in Tucson. She’s still looking for sponsors and appreciates all the fan support.”
Cassie remains positive despite the setback.
“There are good teams and people out there, so I’m not giving up on my dream,” she says. “I want to race, grow as a driver, and win a championship for my fans and sponsors.”