TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Sam Hornish Jr. had just one request for his wife if their third baby was a boy: He didn’t want the child named after him.
He lost that fight in overwhelming fashion, and Samuel Hornish III was added to the clan in February. Now Hornish is dealing with the effects of having too many people named “Sam” in one family.
“The first time my wife goes `Hey, Sammy!’ or my mom says `Sammy,’ – I mean, I’m still Sammy when my dad is around,” Hornish said after winning the pole for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It just becomes confusing for me `cause if somebody goes, `Sammy’ I go `What?’ And they go, `I’m talking to the baby’ and I say `This is exactly what I’m talking about!”
So the family is trying different nicknames on the baby to see what sticks. Aside from Sammy, he’s been called SJ and SJ3.
It’s part of an ongoing evolution of name-calling at the Hornish household, where both of his daughters call the former Indianapolis 500 winner “Sammy.” But his 6-year-old recently tried pushing the envelope with her father.
“My oldest daughter, that’s all she called me, `Sammy,’ for probably two years,” he said. “Then she shortened it to `Sam’ and that’s when she had to call me Dad. Because Sammy is cute, but Sam, I was like `No, we’re not that way.”
Hornish, who has a seven-race Nationwide deal with Joe Gibbs Racing that began Saturday at Talladega, is one of the most decorated American drivers in open-wheel history. A three-time IndyCar Series champion, he won 19 races and the Indy 500 in 2006. His championship that season remains the last one won by Roger Penske in IndyCar.
His success is part of the reason Hornish had trepidation about a namesake.
“I have to be really nice about how I want to say this, but the whole Sam thing, my wife was pretty adamant that he’d be named Samuel,” he said. “I guess that I’m really proud of my name, but I don’t know that he’ll always be proud of it.”