When it comes to natural talents, some people go through life never really knowing what gifts they have, others find them but are never able to pair them with a passion, and then there are some who get it all. This is the case with Dorr, Michigan’s Kevin Lincoln.
Lincoln first realized his love for auto racing as a child, “My dad Richard raced midgets before I was born and just as I was coming into life he was running his last few Super Modified races with Tri-Sac” When Kevin was born Richard hung up his racing suit and veered away from the racing scene, but once involved in the sport, there is always a magnetic pull to make a return and in 1969 Richard returned to the speedway, but on the other side of the catch fence, “I remember that we all went to Berlin Raceway one evening and that’s when it all started for me”, exclaimed Kevin, “I saw Johnny Benson in his #21 and fell in love with racing. We started going to the track 2-3 times a month. That was back when Benson Sr., all the Sennekers, Tommy Maier, and Mike Eddy would show up to a normal Saturday night show, then when Clarks Motor Speedway opened I was there almost every Friday night.”
Kevin was an avid race fan with millions of ideas floating in his young head, but it wasn’t until he started working on racecars with his first wife’s grandfather who was a car owner and builder that Kevin got to put some of his ideas into form. Kevin enjoyed turning wrenches on the dirt Late Model, but his role on the team changed abruptly one night in 1977 at the Ionia Fairgrounds, “One night our driver didn’t show up and I got thrown into the car. I ended up finishing up that year and then came out full time in the red and white Cadillac Seville for 1978.”
Kevin certainly enjoyed being behind the wheel and raced on a full-time basis through the 2010 season; competing in Dirt Late Models, Modifieds, Sprints, Asphalt Sprinters, and ISMA Super Modifieds before settling into the asphalt USA Modified tour for full-seasons in 2009 & 2010.
Although Kevin has had some amazing racing memories behind the wheel; including competing in the Copper World Classic in the mid-80’s, and not-so-pleasant accomplishments such having the distinct honor of being one of only a few drivers who managed to flip completely out of the park at the Ionia Fairgrounds; in recent years Kevin has realized his true automotive passion is still rooted in his racing origins.
Before slipping into the cockpit that night in 1977, Kevin was thinking of ways to make racecars go faster. Knowing that aerodynamics played a huge role in a cars speed and handling, Lincoln was intrigued.
Wishing to put some of his ideas into motion a young Kevin decided to make a phone call that changed his life, “As a foolish whim one day I picked up the phone and called the “Ohio Traveler” Rick Ferkel. I had seen him and Jack Hewitt race a number of times and thought that maybe I could have ideas that would help someone coming up. We spent 45-minutes on the phone…luckily he was kind enough to not say, ‘Go away kid!’ and after that I started designing body panels for him. That was in the early 80’s and that same year he went to Syracuse and set the world speed record. At that time he was racing for Rick Stewart of Stewart Fabrication in Phoenix, Arizona and soon I was doing design work for Rick as well”.
Stewart and Ferkel had an instant affection for the young Michigander which grew into an immeasurable amount of respect. Because of Kevin’s uncanny ability to combine mathematics and racing knowledge to gain an edge aerodynamically over the competition they dubbed him “The Wizard”. To this day the man who piloted the #05 for over three decades still is most often referred to by that moniker. The nickname started on a February night in Florida, “One night Rick Ferkel, Rick Stewart, and I were at East Bay Raceway and sometimes at East Bay at night the air density is just right so that off the top wing of a sprint car you can actually see the air. Rick Stewart and I were talking about it and Rick Ferkel said, “Well I think this kid can see air!” From there the Ricks started calling me “The Wizard of Air” and eventually just ‘The Wizard’.”
Webster’s dictionary defines wizardry as having “great skill or cleverness in an activity” and with 30-years of racecar body design and fabrication experience, Lincoln is still very deserving of the title. Currently in his shop sets three Sprint Cars and two Modifieds, and throughout the year there will be hosts of cars in and out including Late Models and Super Modifieds. At present working on cars is an addictive hobby for the father of five, but one day he would like to turn his passion into a full-time job, “I would love to continue to work on others cars and grow this into my retirement business and perhaps even step into the role of car owner at some point”.
The evolvement of motorsports has changed the game for Lincoln in recent years, but instead of shying away from attempting to find creative ways to gain speed; Kevin has thrived on the new challenge, “The rule books of before were not at all the way they are now. Now aero modifications have to be much more subtle. Back in the NDRA days there were only 5-6 pages of rules for Dirt Late Models compared to the nearly 20-pages you now see with similar sanctioning bodies. Back in those days you could run 15-18” of lexan on the back of a car as a spoiler. I now spend half the year reading rule books so I can learn how to read between them. Even Super Modifieds are starting to look alike which has always been a pet-peeve of mine, which is why I have vowed to make the bodies I design each unique. It is definitely a challenge, but it is a fun challenge!”
Although Kevin has always been there for his fellow racers as a sounding board, or to give advice In 2011 Kevin was given a platform in which to share his automotive knowledge when Kevin Katzenburg asked him to write informational/instructional pieces on the Hogan Technologies http://hogantechnologies.com/blog/ website. The website which plays host to an amazing amount of technical information from some of the sports best features Kevin in the aerodynamics section. His blog posts are geared towards the weekend warriors doing battle in Late Model’s, Modifieds, and Sprint Cars.
Writing is a new challenge but like his time spent looking for the perfect body line or angle it has become another that Kevin loves to conquer weekday nights once the kids are securely tucked into bed. Throughout the day Kevin is busy at Lack’s Trim Services where he is an Advanced Color Development Engineer. Kevin’s team is responsible for developing new colors for auto makers to debut 2-3years in the future.
When he’s not at work he and his wife Anita enjoy spending time with their three young boys; 11-year-old Jack (named after friend Jack Hewitt), 8-year-old Owen, and 3-year-old Eli. Kevin also enjoys every moment he gets to spend with his oldest sons, 23-year-old Kyle who is currently in Europe finishing his doctorate degree, and 20-year-old Alex who is presently in North Carolina performing his internship in golf course turf management.