RIDGEWAY, Va. (WFXR/QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Denny Hamlin is known for many roles around Charlotte and in the NASCAR world. The three-time Daytona 500 champion also is part-owner of a race team with Michael Jordan, a longtime Hornets season ticket holder, and his Lake Norman home is a whopping 21,000 square feet.
But the No. 11 Toyota driver’s newest title came unexpectedly in his home state of Virginia. He became a wedding officiant.
Roanoke, Virginia, residents Carson and Katie Wilmer are big Hamilin fans. The Wilmers tied the knot in May, but wanted to have their favorite driver play a special role in their lifetime commitment.
Part one was putting Hamlin’s name on the marriage certificate as an officiant. They faced a roadblock getting his signature when the Wilmers’ honeymoon included a stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600. A chilly rain throughout the Memorial Day weekend put a damper on the festivities, and pushed Charlotte’s signature race to Monday.
“So on Monday when it was returning, we went to Quebec, so we have been waiting for every race since trying to get his signature,” Carson and Katie recalled. “We thought it would be a great idea and we love Denny Hamlin. We have loved Denny Hamlin all of our lives and now that we are together we thought it was most fitting to put him on our marriage certificate.”
Five months later Oct. 29 at the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at the Martinsville Speedway, they wanted something more on the marriage certificate – Hamlin’s signature. Their actual officiant had yet to sign the document.
The moments of anticipation grew as Hamlin was walking through the crowd signing items for fans. Facing a must-win situation to stay in championship contention, he probably didn’t want to deal with any high-stress situations off the track.
But when he approached the Wilmers, he got an interesting proposal.
“Next thing we know we got Denny to sign this,” the Wilmers said. “Everyone helped us here. Martinsville is the best race of the year. We are from Roanoke. This is our home track and this is some good Juju.”
Hamlin took the unique request in stride.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was good to see our fans coming out wanting me to sign their marriage certificate. That was a first for me. It is great. Especially in this area. I love it.”
“It is a first for everything,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “That is what I say. When you come to Martinsville, expect the unexpected.”
When it comes to the Wilmers and their future children, they plan to honor the driver with those names.
“Denny and Hamlin… one for Denny and one for Hamlin,” the Wilmers said.
Hamlin was eliminated from championship contention, even with a third-place finish, but got to add to his resume.