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Temple father and son make racing a hobby, together

  • Willy Pinkham and his son, William Pinkham, Jr., of Temple, spent their weekends racing Sprint cars. Courtesy

  • Willy Pinkham and his son, William Pinkham, Jr., of Temple, spent their weekends racing Sprint cars. Courtesy

  • Willy Pinkham and his son, William Pinkham, Jr., of Temple, spent their weekends racing Sprint cars. Courtesy

  • Willy Pinkham and his son, William Pinkham, Jr., of Temple, spent their weekends racing Sprint cars. Courtesy

  • Willy Pinkham and his son, William Pinkham, Jr., of Temple, spent their weekends racing Sprint cars. Courtesy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, June 18, 2018 11:44AM

Willy Pinkham’s prize sprint car is a 1982 – older than the club he races for. In places, the gunmetal gray of the body shows under its original blue paint job, evidence of the battle scars of dings and dents its accumulated over the years.

He’d rather let that character shine through than touch the original paint job, admits Pinkham, in an interview at his Temple home. He likes that his cars have age – evidenced by the right-side engines, which are no longer in fashion. But they grace both the car that Pinkham races, and the one that his son, William Pinkham Junior, also of Temple, use on the track.

It’s never hurt their chances of coming home with trophies and recognition, said Pinkham.

“I like to take that old tech and win races,” he said. “The motors are as old as me. I was born in 1979, and so were they.”

In fact, the placement of the motor is so signature for their cars, that they call their team “Right Side Racing.”

Not much bigger than a Go-kart, sprint cars are a high-powered race car that are made for racing on dirt or paved oval tracks. Though smaller than a traditional racecar, they have the capacity to reach speeds over 160 miles an hour on a straight track.

Sprint cars with right-side motors aren’t made anymore, because they have a reputation of making it hard to turn, said Pinkham.

“Because no one else likes them, that makes me like them even more,” he said.

Pinkham grew up around  motors, he said, racing four-wheelers and micro modified cars, but mostly gave it up when he had his family. Then, in 2016, a friend got into sprint car racing, and Pinkham began to help him build the motor.

Before the year was out, Pinkham was trading for his own sprint car, and passing the racing bug onto his 20-year-old son, who was named Rookie of the Year for the 2017 season.

“They both have the need for speed, and this is a safe outlet. And it’s nice to see them have fun together. It’s something they can bond over,” said Pinkham’s wife, Lisa Pinkham. 

“I’ve always been on four-wheelers, dirtbikes, all of that,” said William Pinkham Jr. “This is great. It’s safe, you have the cage around you, you can go out on a race on the weekend and go to work on Monday.”

Currently a quarter-through the 16-race season, Pinkham has already netted a first-place win in the 500cc category during a June 5 race at Legion Speedway. On the first turn, his son mis-shifted, stalling on the track, and Pinkham found the best line out of the snarl of cars avoiding his son’s, getting out in first and keeping his lead for the rest of the race. And despite his initial trouble, William Pinkham Jr. was able to pull out a 6th place finish out of 16 racers. And they were all set to go out and do it again the next weekend.

“This is the kind of sport where you can bring the cars home, wash them off, and just get ready for the next weekend,” said Pinkham. “All winter, we save out pennies and all summer, we go to the races.”

You can pour as much money as you want into a hobby like Sprint cars, said Pinkham, but it’s also possible to get started with a race-ready car for as little as $3,500-$5,000, meaning it’s a hobby that’s accessible for those that want to get into it.

“This is something you’ll never get your money back out of, but what you do get is your memories,” said Pinkham. “This is how we spend our time together, as a family.”