Not too often do you hear of a driver set to make their tour or series debut at the age of 43, but that will happen this weekend when fan favorite Les Hinckley makes his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start. Hinckley of Windsor Locks, Connecticut and Brady Bunch Racing, under the care of second-generation owner Brian Brady, have come together to form a New England all-star team that is pointed south for the Tour’s season opener at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
Though the deal has been locked in since early February, it is a coming together that has been years in the making thanks to the friendship shared by Hinckley and Brady.
“Brian helps me during the season. I got to know Brian over the past couple of years; when I take my car or race the 52, Brian goes with us. Just a mutual friendship with Brian,” Hinckley told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
While Hinckley is excited to add his name to the stack of talented drivers that have wheeled the famous No. 00 over the decades, it is being able to celebrate the long racing history of not just the Brady family, but his own that makes it so special.
“It’s the history of it and how it dates back to the Coupe days and all that stuff. My father started out in Coupes, Brian’s dad Joe started with Coupes, so some of the stuff parallels over,” Hinckley explained. “It’s neat with my father being involved in all that so long. It’s definitely an honor to be one of the drivers that’s sat in that seat for sure.”
In a long career that has brought a Monadnock Speedway (VT) track championship and 19 career wins on the Valenti Modified Racing Series, this weekend marks the debut on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for Hinckley. Though this is his debut race, Hinckley is confident his personal experience outside the NWMT, and the Brady Bunch’s experience on the Tour can make for an instant winning combination.
“It’s my first time running the Tour, but certainly not my first time running a Modified, or racing against anyone of the guys within the Tour, and certainly not the first time that the 00 has run on the Tour and those guys are familiar with all that stuff,” Hinckley commented. “I know the guys, the only thing new is the sanctioning body, so I don’t see any reason why with the equipment we have and the people we’re doing it with that we can’t be competitive and run for a win.”
Hinckley knows his biggest foe will not be the competition, but the race track itself. Not only has the New England-based racer never been to Myrtle Beach Speedway, but he has never tackled a track that has this big of an appetite for tires.
“I’ve heard about how abrasive it is on the tires and how much the fall off is time wise. It’s a whole lot worse than anything we’ve experienced up here. People have made correlations to Lee, but its far more than Lee,” Hinckley stated. “I don’t know a whole lot, I’ve watched a few videos, I watched a video of the guys down there last month racing, just looking at some lines. You can hear, talk, and watch all you want, you really just got to get out on the race track and figure it out for yourself.”
As for Hinckley’s plans with the Brady Bunch beyond Myrtle Beach, that remains to be seen.
“We talked about a few things but nothing is concrete at this point. They are on a race-to-race basis like I am with my own stuff, so we’ll see what happens after we get through Myrtle Beach.”
His plans outside the 00 are also open for the most part going forward, but he has committed to the full four-race schedule for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series to score an elusive win on the series. He will run the same multi-car combination as last year with his own No. 06 Modified and the No. 52 under the direction of car owner Wayne Darling.
“We’re going to run the Tri-Track Series. We’ll run Star Speedway (NH) with my car, the 06. The 52 we will run Seekonk (MA) and Waterford (CT). Again nothing is concrete with either car other than Tri-Track, we’ll be at all those races.”
Be sure to follow Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage from Myrtle Beach Speedway this Saturday, March 18.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Crystal Snape