Unbuckled: Getting to Know Kyle Pembroke


Hometown: Montpelier, VT

Division: Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models

Car: Kinney Drugs #27VT Chevy Impala

2018 Season: Finished 7th in Late Model points; 1 podium and 5 top-5 finishes

What are your favorite hobbies outside of racing?

I really enjoy the winters in Vermont. I like to snowboard and get on the mountain when I can. My summers consist of hanging out on Lake Champlain and getting on a boat any possible chance I have. I’ve always loved sports, too. I still play some pick-up basketball and pick-up rugby here and there, which is something I picked up in college.

You played sports throughout high school and college, right?

Absolutely. Football and basketball were my big two in high school; I came up through playing those. In college, I switched over to rugby, which has kind of been up-and-coming in the U.S. for a while.

What do you do for work?

I work for a financial planning firm in Colchester called Bay State Financial. I basically help individuals get through their everyday financial goals and objectives, whether it be retirement, education planning, or just accumulating wealth as they’re working and helping invest their hard-earned money. I like to work with individuals and small businesses and help them achieve whatever it is they have in mind. I started studying for licenses when I got out of school, which was the summer of 2016, and I’ve been doing this full-time since early 2017.

What are your racing plans for 2019? Do you have any goals?

Lately I’ve been working on renewing some sponsors. We had Kinney Drugs get on board last year, which was a huge help to our racing program. We’re working to try and bring them back for 2019 and looking to do some store appearances – you can see us down at the Berlin store, which I know is close to home for a lot of Thunder Road folks and for myself. I’m also working on getting some of the long-time sponsors back, such as my company Bay State, Bolduc Metal Recycling, and West View Meadows. But for now, we’re feeling out the crew, making sure everyone’s still on board, and we hope to hit the high banks with you in April.

What was the highlight of the 2018 season for you?

That’s a good question. I’d say it was when we kind of hit a turning point around midseason. We had just been throwing everything at the car, and finally we hit something, and I think we had two or three top-5s right in a row. That was a highlight for us – that we had gotten the car going great, and it was consistent, and we were finally a top-5 car. That was a huge step for us and something that gives us a lot of optimism going into 2019. We’ve been a pretty steady top-10 team, but we do feel like we had a top-5 car to end the year. I’d say that would be one of our biggest goals: to finally crack the top-5 in points next year.

How did you get started in racing?

I started when my father Todd bought Garrett and me a go-kart to split. I was seven years old, and I believe my brother was five. We went off-and-on at Thunder Road in the NEKC division with Donnie Gove back in the day. Then I had to move up a division, so dad got me another kart, and Garrett and I were both racing for quite some time. So I got my start in go-karts, and I was also watching my second cousin Dave Pembroke come up through the ranks at Thunder Road. It was pretty cool that we got to race at the same track and just be involved in the same hobby. That was something that my family fell in love with, and we never looked back.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Racing-wise, reeling off five Late Model wins by the time I was 23 years of age was certainly our biggest accomplishment yet. We’ve had a lot of wins in lower divisions, but to do it at the highest level with the competition at Thunder Road, we were just tickled with that. We thought that was pretty special.

Can you tell me about your family?

I have to start with Mom and Dad. They got me involved at such a young age, putting me in a go-kart and then a full-size car in New Hampshire by the age of 12. I have to talk about my brother Garrett, too. He’s my spotter – he’s my eyes and ears out on the track, and it’s pretty awesome to have somebody that I connect so well with and have been around so long. Just to have those people involved in racing means the world to me.

Do you have anybody that you consider a role model?

A role model for me would probably be my uncle Steve Pembroke. He’s been with us since we started in Tigers when I was 16 years old. The precision and the work ethic that he has and puts into this car, and the pride he takes in it, are something I definitely cherish and value. I just can’t speak enough to how lucky we are to have him.

What’s the most memorable trip you ever went on?

I’d have to say it was a trip I actually took with an extended race crew. It was my 18th birthday, and we took a trip up to Montreal, believe it or not. We had a lot of fun. I was finally of-age up there, and we hit the town and just about everything Montreal has to offer. That was cool to get out of the country and hang out with some of the guys that I’m usually just around at the track.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Wow, there’s so many. What would your superpower be?

This might be more of a wizarding power, but I would probably want the power to apparate and instantly go from one place to another.

Oh, like teleportation. That would be a cool one. I’m thinking of a lot of them, but some of them would have some negative consequences, too. I was thinking flying would be pretty awesome. Reading minds would be cool, too, but that might just get too hectic if you could read minds. And you might not want to know the answers; you need to be able to turn that on and off.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve, actually, is when – and it’s usually just a Yankee thing up here – but when people say the word “idea” as “idear” with an r at the end. For some reason, that drives me up a wall.

What are the top three items on your bucket list?

Well, I mean, I’m still young here. I’m not trying to kick the bucket anytime soon. (Laughs) I’d like to take a Western Canada road trip at some point and see the beauty that it has to offer –cities like Vancouver and some of those out west. I’d also love to check out the Rocky Mountains. Besides that, I’d also like to get to Europe at some point. I hear so much about the continent, and I had some classmates who had the luxury to go over there. Unfortunately, racing was always too important to take time to travel. So really, traveling would be a big thing I’d like to do once racing is over, whenever that is.

Who is your biggest fan at the track?

I’d have to say my grandmother Carla. She just wouldn’t miss a race. In my entire career, I don’t think she’s missed more races than you can count on one hand. She’s there every time – she’s there for practice, too. Even if there isn’t a race that day, she’ll be there cheering us on for practice and having her one drink on Bud Hill. She just wouldn’t miss it. My mother is there a lot, too, but a lot of times we rope her into grabbing a tool or something we forgot at the shop. So she’s kind of there but default. (Laughs) But I’m very fortunate. Both my grandmothers and my mom are extremely supportive, and they’re at almost every race.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?

I hate to keep harping on the family thing, but without them, I would never even be involved in racing. I wouldn’t know a thing about this sport if I wasn’t introduced at such a young age and I wasn’t around the sport when I was three years old up on Bud Hill rooting on some of my cousins. So far and away, my family is really the reason I’m talking to you right now and not on a men’s league basketball team, or softball team, or you name it. It’s an awesome hobby to have. It’s an expensive one, but it’s awesome.

If you could give one piece of advice or a life lesson to your younger self, what would it be?

I’d probably just preach patience. I didn’t imagine what I was that young that I would even be out on the track. I’d say just wait for your turn, take it easy, and don’t force anything. As long as you’re patient and stick with the sport, things will pan out in your favor in due time.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Oh my goodness, I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight. (Laughs) Five years from now, who knows? I’d love to say I’ll still be racing and competing with the guys in Barre, but I also understand that life happens and opportunities arise. So I’m not going to stick to the script or anything. I’m just going to let things flow and, and like I said in my previous answer, just be patient and see what happens.

What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about money again?

Geez, I guess I’d have to join the ACT Tour. (Laughs) I wouldn’t be in a cubicle, I’ll tell you that for sure. I’d probably take myself up on some of those travel opportunities and maybe get a pontoon with some friends and go boating or something like that. I’d definitely try to spread the love and go on a few trips. Man, that sounds fun. What a dream world.