Photos © Bruce Nuttleman / UltimateLapPhoto.com
After 30 Years Of Racing, Bill Niles Faces Winter Without A Race Car
Over half of his life, Bill Niles has prepared race cars in the winter. But for the first time in 30 years, the Holmen, Wisconsin man has some additional free time.
A lot of free time.
After the 2014 season, Niles retired from racing in the NASCAR Late Model Division at the 5/8’s mile LaCrosse Speedway in West Salem, WI.
Bruce Nuttleman: How different has this ‘offseason’ been than other years?
Bill Niles: Right now it doesn’t feel any different than any other offseason. I’m sure that in the middle of February, when I would normally start working on the car it’ll feel different, but right now it’s just a normal offseason.
Bruce: Your racing career started in a very different way?
Bill Niles: (promoter) Larry Wehrs started the squad car in ‘85 as a house car. People would put their name in a box, they would draw a name that box and let that person drive the car for the night.
That was in the Street Stox division that ran on the big track, before the ¼ mile was put in.
In ‘86 insurance for the track went up so they put the car up for sale and my dad bought it and I started driving it.
Niles father, Mike started racing in 1971 and Bill was one of many Niles’ to follow in dad’s footsteps at the speedway.
Bruce: Have you thought about what your summer will be like without ‘having’ to be at the racetrack each week?
Bill Niles: I am kind of looking forward to getting more golf in and riding my Harley a lot more than I have been in the past. My golf clubs haven’t got used a heck of a lot–maybe twice in the last 4 years. And we didn’t get to spend much time on the Harley the last couple years so I’m looking forward to doing that.
Bruce: You’re affectionately known as the “Mid-Pack Legend”Any idea who will fill that void at LaCrosse?
Bill Niles: I don’t know if they’ll ever be another mid-pack legend, but I always thought there should be more personality from most of the drivers. Too many short answers to questions, too many robotic answers, nobody has fun with what they’re doing.
Bruce: What will you miss most?
Bill Niles: I will miss the whole race night experience, from driving through the pit gate at the start of the day to getting the goose bumps when I hit the gas pedal for the first time in practice to the adrenaline rush at the drop of the green flag. Then chatting with the fans afterwards, I will definitely miss it all.
Bruce: What will your wife do with all of the extra Bill Niles she’ll have this summer.
Bill Niles: Go nuts because if I’m not golfing or riding the Harley I’ll be driving her crazy
Bruce: So you’re NOT racing stock cars again?
Bill Niles: Done.
Bruce: So you’re saying there’s a chance. Is there still a race car in the Niles’ shop? Any race car?
Bill Niles: All three cars are still there, and all three cars are for sale.
Bill Niles: Btw, people act like I am dying I’m just not racing anymore. I’ll still be at the track occasionally.
Bruce: You’ve done some announcing here and there at LaCrosse. Are you saying (current track announcer) Dan Deicher better watch his back?
Bill Niles: Deicher has nothing to worry about, I’m not looking for his job. Retiring will keep me away from the track every week and it is something I’m looking forward to. Taking an announcing job would put me back at the track every week, and its not what I’m looking for.
I’m not giving up the radio gig yet, that is still fun and they want me back so I will keep doing that non-controversial, but something that draws out some personality of people, or just to see what they are doing, etc. during the season, off season.
With three cars still in the shop we’ll see what happens to that .01% chance of racing at LaCrosse Speedway in 2015. Every track needs a Mid-Pack Legend.