and just try to stay ….
and just try to stay there — “bottom feeders“ Bill calls them — while he would go high, low or anywhere in between to move up in the pack.
“Wherever I gotta go to miss a car or pass ‘em,” Bill said. “It’s a hoot. I was a lot more aggressive. That’s how you get to the front.”
When Bill was forced to take his dirt track car onto the blacktop track, he stood out. Why? Because his car was dinged up from years of close calls with competitors on those loose dirt ovals. When he went onto the blacktop tracks, the guys who were afraid of dented fenders on their sleek cars stayed clear.
“They gave me plenty of room. It was easy to win,” Bill said. “One guy said to me, ‘You gotta change the body on that (car). Guys are scared of you.’” Bill’s style proved effective, and he was a regular in the winner’s circle.
“We’ve got a lotta trophies. We won a lot of heats and features,” Bill said.
Despite taking chances on the track, Bill was mostly able to avoid serious wrecks. Only once, at the Neillsville fairgrounds, did he get hurt, as he broke all three bones in his wrist.
“Tom Loos jumped in the car and finished the race,” Bill says.
As Bill spent most of his spare time in summers working on cars or at the track, four sets of eyes were on him all the while. Those were the eyes of his four sons, all of whom would race one day themselves. So, too, would two of his grandsons.
Todd was first to get behind the wheel, and Bill said he “was a helluva driver” who won the Wissota National Points title. Chris drove for a few years and Ryan was in the superstock class. Jared — or BJ as he’s known — has won a handful of championships and still drives. Then came Todd’s sons, Justin and Jordan, who had their share of successes, too.
Bill said each boy took a liking to the sport of racing.
“They just found a car and put it together,” Bill said.
At one time, Lindner Racing had seven cars on the tracks.
“It looked like a caravan leaving the yard,” he said.
As the boys became more active, Bill slowed down. For the past several years, he has run only the Marshfi eld vintage race. In 16 starts, he’s won it 11 times, he said. He can’t win it anymore because the car he drives weighs in too light.
“We’re over there just for the fun,” he said.
“Fun” is what it’s always been about for Bill, whose first thrills in a car were not of the competitive type. He remembers days when he was young and driving some fast car, when the local police knew well of him. His boys know of his local legend, as son Chris has on his cell phone a copy of the newspaper clipping showing that Bill received a $5.50 speeding ticket as a high school junior.
That was nothing, Bill says. More than a few times, he outwitted and outdrove the area cops.
“The state patrol never had a chance,” he says with a sly grin.
Even with his young wife along once, in a ride on Highway 29, he got in a little trouble in a ’65 Chevelle at something like 120 mph.
“That’s why we go to church,” he says.
The race track proved to be the outlet Bill needed. Racing both fulfilled his yearn to burn, and made use of his natural mechanical abilities.
“It’s just something in you,” he said of racing. “I don’t have no patience to go sit and fish.”
He thought at first of something like tractor or truck pulling, but that didn’t do it either.
“If I get in there (in a vehicle), I want to stay in it for a while,” he said.
He did stay in it for a while, like 50 years, although that August legends race may have been his last.
“We’ll see,” he said, thinking that maybe BJ can sit in for him next summer.
“Oh,” chimes in the wife who’s watched Bill drive for half a century, “I’m sure he’ll be out there next year.”
“It’s just something in you. I don’t have no patience to go sit and fish.” -- Bill Lindner