NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Former Automobile Racing Club of America championship car owner, Bill Hahnlein, passed away in Florida on June 17 at the age of 81.
In 1980, Hahnlein won the ARCA stock car championship with Bob Dotter, who had lost his left hand in an industrial accident, wheeling Hahnlein’s Buick Regal No. 76.
The Chicago area racers had been together since 1975 when Dotter drove Hahnlein’s Chevelle in USAC stock car competition. Their first ARCA victory came at Illiana Motor Speedway, southeast of Chicago, on June 24, 1978 as Dotter, with a hook replacing his missing hand, guided a Hahnlein-owned Chevrolet to the 100-lap win. Dotter, a three-time ARCA champion with three different car owners, passed away in 2003.
Sometimes listed mistakenly as Bill Hamlin, Hahnlein had fielded short track cars in the Chicago area for William “Whitey” Gerken. Hahnlein also fielded cars for Bobby Dotter and Duane Pierson in ARCA action. A number of other local Chicago area race cars came out of “Hamlin’s Barn.”
“He (Hahnlein) was elated when I finished fourth in my first race at Daytona (in 1983),” said Pierson recently. We got along great. I was very grateful that he took a chance with me even though I had no (super) speedway or dirt experience.”
Pierson, driving for Hahnlein, finished fourth in the 1983 ARCA standings.
After his racing days were over, Hahnlein relocated to New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He was in the church pew business and also owned a local truck delivery company while in the Chicago area.