Carlton Lamm, a racing team owner whose impact was rewarded with a berth in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, died late Monday afternoon. He was 77.
The Wilson County native, who owned the Dunn-Benson Ford dealership, had recently suffered a stroke and had been hospitalized in Raleigh for nearly three weeks. No other details were immediately available.
Mr. Lamm got into racing nearly 50 years ago, using his Barbecue Barn business to sponsor a local driver who frequented the restaurant.
After deciding to become a race-team owner, he branched out from local tracks to chase bigger events.
"You get restless doing the same thing all the time," he said in a 2005 interview with the Observer. "We started off running Wilson, then Fayetteville, then we’d ease off somewhere else once in awhile. It looked like if you were ever going to race for any money that amounted to anything you had to get out and travel. ... I started meeting people who were making a living doing it and decided to give it a shot."
Mr. Lamm's list of drivers included the likes of Shannon Babb, Ray Tucker, Clint Smith, Rodney Combs, Jeff Smith, Randy Renfrow, Shawn Beasley, Earl Pearson Jr., and his current pilot, Bobby Pierce.
Mr. Lamm's drivers won scores of national and regional events. In 2004, Pearson won the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series crown, and the team successfully defended its title in 2005-06 when the tour was renamed the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. In 2006, Pearson, in consecutive starts, won a Carolina Clash race at Fayetteville Motor Speedway, the Hillbilly 100 in West Virginia, and the sport's most prestigious event, the World 100, at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
After the 2006 season ended, the Lamms sold their team to former NASCAR Cup champion Bobby Labonte, then returned to action in 2015 with Pearson as their driver. He won seven Lucas races in those three years before leaving the team after the 2017 season.
Pierce is 10th in the latest Lucas Oil standings.
Sports editor Thomas Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3520.