CHILDREN OF THE CORN
Jason Hamstra Adds to the Legacy of Indiana’s Hustlin’ Hoosiers
WHEN JASON HAMSTRA, HIS WIFE PATSY AND PARENTS KEVIN AND KAREN SHOW UP AT A RACE, THOSE WALKING THE PITS MAY NOT NOTICE. That all changes, however, during qualifying when Jason launches his car towards the finish line. That’s when the fans learn what many of his fellow racers already know: The Hamstra family is in da house.
Nicknamed “Racin’ Jason” when he was just a kid, it was clear he’d inherited a competitive streak from his dad. Jason was the first to break into the eight-second zone and won his local track’s Junior Dragster championship at U.S. 41 Dragway when he was just 12. Two years later, he repeated that feat as track champion in the face of stronger competition at Indy.
The Hamstra clan continued to carve their legacy slowly with Jason behind the wheel. At 16, he was piloting a full-sized rail, then captured the IHRA Pro Top Outlaw Championship two years later. In 2005, he started the season shoeing a blown ’63 Pro Mod
’Vette, becoming the first in the class to use a torque converter rather than a clutch. Jason learned his lessons well and, in 2007, captured his first IHRA event win. He continued in IHRA for another year then switched to ADRL in 2009 where he put his experience to use, capturing rookie of the year honors at a mere 22 years of age. Two years later, he was the ADRL Pro Extreme Champion in a ’70 Plymouth Duster. All in all, it was a pretty rapid rise into the ranks of the Pro Modified elite.
As their on-track reputation solidified, the family racing operation evolved into Hamstra Racing Services, which offers on-track tuning, chassis set-up advice and wiring/plumbing to a number of teams nationally.
Jason also used this time to graduate from Purdue University, Calumet with a degree in engineering. Even so, the competitive fires still burned. When an exAlan Pittman ’69 Camaro became available, the family purchased it with the intention of racing within the NMCA and Midwest Pro Mod series.
“I think tuning for other people and working on different combinations has made me a better racer,” Jason said. “Sometimes people listen to too many different voices. You have to spend time figuring out one combination instead of making lots of changes if you’re ever going to make it work right.”
The family spent the winter of 2016 updating the car to their specs prior to the 2017 NMCA opener. They proved they’d done their homework by qualifying first, setting Low ET with a 3.775 and winning the race. He finished the season with two wins in three final round appearances out of five events attended. That earned him a second in championship points in VP Racing Fuels’ Xtreme Pro Mod. Post season honors included making the 30 Under 30 Who Made a Difference list for 2016.
Power for their Camaro comes from a familybuilt 521-ci combo. The reciprocating assembly is comprised of a Sonny Bryant crank, R&R billet aluminum rods and Diamond pistons. Noonan cylinder heads cap the short-block assembly, with a Janis roller cam operating the valve train.
The induction system includes a Kobelco 1471 blower atop a Hogan manifold. A Waterman pump feeds the mechanical fuelinjection system.
Behind the engine sits a Coan Turbo 400 and PST carbon-fiber driveshaft connecting to a Mark Williams third member. Hoosiers mounted on Weld wheels supply the rubber.
While Jason is still a young man of 30, racing from the age of 8 has brought about considerable wear and tear. Yet he still has a competitive drive.
“It’s exhausting sometimes, but if I didn’t do it, then I don’t know what I’d do,” Jason said when asked if he was ready to slow down. “For right now, though, six to eight races a year with the NMCA and Midwest Pro Mod series is enough, but I certainly would entertain a deal to drive in PDRA or the NHRA Pro Mod series if an offer appeared.”
As a young farm boy born into a racing family, Jason has been on the fast track to becoming a successful racer, champion and business owner. Maybe there really is something in that corn.
We’re talking a sizeable investment here: Only the best parts, including a Sonny B. crank and a CN billet block and billet heads from the Aussies at Noonan, were installed on Jason’s ride.
The cockpit is a good example of Alan Pittman’s fab skills. Note the Coan Turbo 400 trans; the Hamstras were early proponents of using a torque converter over a clutch.
The Mark Williams third member handles the copious amounts of power the Hamstra familybuilt Hemi produces.