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Hamburg’s plans extend from one lane to another

The Hamburg family shares two passions: bowling and dirt-track racing. Andrew (right) and the Dixon Dukes will compete in the state meet this weekend. His parents, Tim and Andrea, bowl 2 nights a week, and his 14-year-old brother, Brandon, will bowl for the Dukes next season.
The Hamburg family shares two passions: bowling and dirt-track racing. Andrew (right) and the Dixon Dukes will compete in the state meet this weekend. His parents, Tim and Andrea, bowl 2 nights a week, and his 14-year-old brother, Brandon, will bowl for the Dukes next season.

Andrew Hamburg has designs on making plenty of noise at the state bowling tournament this weekend.

But those designs have nothing – aesthetically, at least – on the scheme he came up with and helped paint on the 1970 Chevelle his father races in the Illinois Vintage Racing Series.

Hamburg was first bit by the design bug when he and his father, Tim, were immersed in an online game called "NASCAR Heat." The racing simulator was realistic, right down to allowing its players to design and "paint" their machine.

An artist was born.

Hamburg now eyes a career in graphic design, and he's already got a partner. He and his 14-year-old brother, Brandon, have drawn the interest of several racers in the area.

"With racing season coming around, we decided to pull together and do our thing to try to get our name out there in the world," Andrew says.

At the very least, the Hamburg brothers can create the scheme. Then the owner can take the vehicle to a sign painter or graphic printer to turn it into a "wrap."

The best advice Andrew has given his apprentice … er … brother?

“Contrast with colors on designing,” Brandon says, visibly racking his brain.

“Letter style, what reads the best,” Andrew chimes in. “The main thing I tried to teach him is, if it looks fast sitting still, it’s gonna look fast on the track."

Andrew learned that important mantra and honed his painting skills for 3 months last spring through an apprenticeship with local sign-painting standby John Morley.

But the skills he'd really like to develop are behind the wheel.

"I'm really hoping something along the road this year I actually get the chance to do it," Andrew says.

What has to happen to get to that point?

"Dad has to die," Tim says, drawing a laugh from everyone around the table. He's joking. Sort of.

Art "Fireball" Fehrman, the owner of the racing circuit, is a stickler for experienced drivers. He doesn't want anyone else earning that nickname.

"He wants veteran drivers in the car," Tim said. "That's the only downfall as far as trying to get Andrew in the car. [Fehrman] doesn't want someone out there who doesn't know what they're doing."

"He needs more seat time," Andrew's mother, Andrea, adds.

But Andrew's knack for graphic design, coupled with his prowess on the lanes, might lead him to bowl at Highland Community College, which can't offer any scholarships until April. In the meantime, Andrew will sit in on some classes in mid-February to get a feel.

One thing he didn't need to get the hang of was working on cars. But then, that runs in the family.

"My dad was a mechanic and knew the ins and outs of the vehicles, so it came very easily,” Andrea said. “There were points in time where Tim and I were the only ones who had time to work on the car. So I was the pit crew, until we had the kids.”

After attending his first race at 3 months old, Andrew joined the team at the ripe age of 2.

"As soon as he could turn a wrench," Tim said.

Brandon followed suit and still has a distinct advantage, since he's yet to hit a major growth spurt.

"This one can sit on his butt right under it, and we don't have to worry about over-tightening anything," Tim said.

Andrew is as particular with his brand racing as he is with his choices of font.

"I'll watch, as long as it's not NASCAR," Hamburg said. "As long as it's on the dirt, I'll watch it.

"In dirt racing, there are so many more variables than in NASCAR. There's so many different things you can do while the race is going and different lines you can try. You can try seven, eight or nine lines. In NASCAR, there's one or two."

He'll have to be ready to try a variety of lines at St. Clair Bowl this Saturday, depending on how the oil moves throughout the six games of the state tourney. Bowling and racing share more qualities for him than you might think.

“The adrenaline rush can get there, close to racing,” Andrew says, “but nothing can beat the smells and pretty much everything being at the racetrack can give you.

“But in bowling, the sound of the ball and the sound of the pins and just ripping the rack and knowing that you hit it…”

"The competition," Andrea adds.

That's an aspect Andrew has learned to rein in. He wears his heart on his sleeves, relishing strikes and showing disdain with solid 10-pins a la Pete Weber.

“It comes with maturity, learning what you can and can’t do," Andrea says. "Competitiveness runs in the family.”

“I try not to take all the blame for it,” Tim says.

SVM Scouts 2013 boys state bowling tournament

When: Round 1 – 9:30 a.m. Friday; Round 2 – 12:45 p.m. Friday; Round 3 – 9:30 a.m. Saturday; Round 4 – 12:45 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. Clair Bowl, O'Fallon

Advancement: Top 12 teams through rounds 1 and 2 advance to Saturday's rounds 3 and 4; top 30 individuals not on those 12 teams also advance

Teams, qualifying scores: Belleville East, 6,561; Biggsville West Central, 6,204; Centralia, 6,019; Chicago Brooks, 5,912; Chicago De La Salle, 5,460; Chicago St. Patrick, 5,304; Dixon, 5,935; Freeport, 6,336; Glenbrook North, 6,026; Granite City, 6,238; Guilford, 6,390; LaGrange Lyons, 6,051; Lockport, 6,317; Minooka, 6,268; Mount Carmel, 5,840; Oak Lawn, 6,218; O'Fallon, 6,559; Roselle Lake Park, 5,394; Salem, 6,101; South Elgin, 5,898; Thornton Fractional South, 6,023; Tinley Park Andrew, 6,397; Vernon Hills, 5,957; Whitney Young, 5,767

Individuals to watch: Colin Rothzen, West Central; Tommy Frost, O'Fallon; Cameron Touchette, Columbia; Thomas Peters, Belleville East; Kyle Bonnell, Sycamore; Mike Kicmal, Lyons; Zach Seggato, Minooka; Bryan Blair, Plainfield Central; Trustin Givens, Guilford; Austin Purkeypile, Harlem

Dixon bowlers' stats (assigned to Lane 17 of 46 for Round 1): Andrew Hamburg sr. (games-total pins-average) 82-17,314-211, Connor Allen sr. 82-17,026-208, Brandon Bonnette sr. 72-14,407-200, Joel Spangler so. 59-11,687-198, Ryan Dixon so. 78-15,376-197, Josh Rex sr. 61-11,932-196, Lucas Bonnette so. 57-11,006-193, Keenan Longan so. 42-7,748-184, Justin Gardner jr. 38-6,722–177; Brandon Helfrich jr. 39-6,644–170; Andrew Clark jr. 39-6,290–161; Dan Rotella sr. 39-6,065–156; Tom Hopp jr. 24-3,014–126.

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