NASA Profiles: Mike Pinholster
Home: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Age: You don’t want to know
Run Group: Race Group, ST1 Class
Vehicle: Dodge Viper GTS, #4
Long before the gypsum particles blew southward off the San Andreas Mountains and formed White Sands National Park, and in a time when little happened in southern New Mexio other than Jim White’s rapid discoveries within the Carlsbad Caverns, one thing was constant: Mike Pinholster and his reign over the old guard of New Mexican dentistry in Las Cruces. Starting out as a Dodge Viper enthusiast and car nut in general, naturally, Mike came to the decision that most readers of this section eventually face: To race, or not to race? Mike chose to apply his skills, passion, and most importantly, the V10 Dodge Viper that’s sitting in his garage, and do something productive with the little free time he has.
Starting off with a recommendation from a friend living in Las Cruces, Mike made the trip to the legendary Arroyo Seco raceway–a venue that has a cult classic type following for people from New Mexico, Texas and Arizona–and you know how that goes.. “I’m just going to try this out and see if I like it.” (Haha, good one, Mike). After that first trip to Arroyo Seco, changes happened in the Pinholster household. That “pretty red Viper that will never see a track”, was replaced with the iconic blue/white color-schemed Viper GTS that we have the pleasure of racing with at most events in Arizona. Glass windows were replaced with lexan, as were his scrubs were traded in for a new firesuit. And in the last five years, Mike has become a staple at Arizona and SoCal NASA events, running in the Race group and doing occasional stints in the Time Trial sessions. In 2008, Mike even attended NASA Nationals at Mid-Ohio, adding to the impressive commutes Mike and his family endure to indulge in this hobby.
As mentioned above, Mike and his family make the monthly haul from Las Cruces to Phoenix to attend NASA events, which is a mere six-hour tow; when combined with multiple trips to The Thing (I-10 joke), the Akela Flats fireworks stand and of course, racing with all of us bums at PIR and Firebird, Mike claims the trip is entirely worth the effort! He credits part of the reason to coming out to NASA Arizona to the camaraderie and social aspect with drivers off the track, almost as much as the good times spent behind the wheel.
Yearly trips to participate in the SoCal and Rocky Mountain region NASA events are on the schedule as well, which allow a stint at his favorite track, Willow Springs. “I finally managed to learn how not to catch air at Willow coming down the hill”, said Mike during his interview.
Favorite Food: Italian
Best Teeth Whitening Product: Crest White Strips
What exactly is there to do in Las Cruces? Work
Jennifer Garner or Jennifer Lopez: Garner, definitely.
Embarassing Moment: Watching Sex and the City with my wife
Can I drive the Viper? No.
Outside of racing and cleaning teeth during the week, Mike and his family have an array of hobbies and live an active lifestyle, exploring and relaxing in southern New Mexico by boat, ATV and motorcycle. Aside from desert hobbies, the Pinholster family indulges in occasional ski trips and Mike is currently trying to massage a “wine tasting trip” to Laguna Seca.. er uh, I mean, Napa Valley, in the near future. Mike is married with one son, who we all look forward to seeing behind the wheel of a car at a NASA event soon (right, Mike?)!
If you have never met Mike Pinholster before, he’s not difficult to spot in the paddock. Aside from his bright blue Viper, Mike flaunts his custom enclosed trailer, which he built himself to keep the Viper safe from the elements during the long tows across the desert. And one thing remains true as well: Mike Pinholster is someone everyone should get to know, as he is a true gentlemen both on and off the track.