–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
WEST HAVEN – Luke Hinkley was preparing to race the People’s United Bank 100 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway one year ago when he received news that changed his life.
Instead of racing at Devil’s Bowl, Hinkley was admitted to the hospital as he began treatments for Leukemia. His car raced with his brother-in-law Todd Davis at the wheel. Davis continued to pilot the car on occasion, while Hinkley underwent treatment, first during a month-long hospital stay and then as an outpatient for the next seven months.
Hinkley was given a clean bill of health in February and returned to the driver’s seat at Lee USA Speedway in April. Hinkley won over Memorial Day Weekend at Claremont Speedway and finally made the trek to Devil’s Bowl Speedway – a year later – to earn a fifth place finish.
“Life changes in a hurry. I didn’t think I’d ever race again,” Hinkley said. “Tonight was the night they told me (last year).
“I was getting ready to come here and I went to the doctors. And then everything happened. I didn’t think that I would race again. I didn’t know what the outcome would be.”
Hinkley and his wife, Tanya, had just welcomed the birth of their daughter when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. His efforts the past two weekends – including his first ACT Late Model Tour top-five in two years – are something he treasures more than he might have in the past.
“It’s a big deal,” Hinkley said of his results the past two weekends. “You learn a few things in life and sometimes it sucks that it takes something like that to do it.
“I have a daughter who is a year old now and you think a little different about life. I’m back here and you cherish these moments with friends and family.”
The run at Devil’s Bowl on Saturday night will likely big a big confidence booster for not only his team, but Hinkley personally, especially when he thought he’d never sit in the driver’s seat again.
“To come here tonight and run like we did – we had a top-ten car and a few guys fell out – I’m happy with it,” Hinkley said. “I’m starting to feel better personally and it’s a little bit of confidence for the whole team.”
1 – Luke Hinkley scored a top-five finish on Saturday night at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, one year removed from being diagnosed with Leukemia. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
2 – Luke Hinkley was informed in February that he was cancer free and returned to the driver’s seat in April. (Leif Tillotson photo)