Wayne grew up on a farm in Illinois and envied his grandpa’s motorcycle. Wayne got his first motorcycle at a young age, a 1958 Cushman to ride around the farm. After high school, Wayne had various jobs at manufacturing companies, but in 1965 decided to venture out to California. While working at Lockheed Aircraft, Wayne bought his first Harley in Burbank. But after a year in California Wayne grew homesick for the farm, so he got on his 1965 Sportster and headed back to Illinois.
After returning to Illinois Wayne was sharing a garage with a friend so he could work on the bike. His interest in street rods led him to build himself a 1923 T-Bucket. During that time, he taught himself welding, fabricating and machining. Wayne continued building T- Buckets for others but working on motorcycles seemed to be his passion so he opened up a motorcycle parts and service shop called Motorsport Sales and Construction in 1967. His focus was building choppers, rebuilding H-D engines, custom fabrication and sandblasting.
In 1973 Wayne and Donna married. They were a good fit, because Donna had an interest in motorcycling too. A week after marrying, Donna started working with Wayne answering the phone, working the counter and doing the bookwork.
A few years went by, and Wayne decided he wanted to produce products instead of building custom motorcycles. His first idea was to make a bolt-on rear disc brake kit for the H-D stock rear hubs. Then more products were designed including the fuel valve, a Sportster rear motor mount and wheelie bars (which are all still being manufactured.)
Sales were pretty slow, so to save on overhead, Wayne & Donna moved to one of the family farm buildings until Mom sold the farm in 1978. They were off to Wisconsin where they set up shop in a 3-car garage.
In 1980, Wayne & Donna decided to ride to Sturgis – that was to be their first time. Business was slow so they put on the answering machine, loaded up the Sportster and off they went. They enjoyed the ride so much they ended up continuing on to Arizona for a total of 5,000 miles in 3 weeks. They agreed they would never do that again.
On their way home, they stopped in Madison, WI and bought an airplane. They both spent the next 1 ½ year learning to fly it.
In the early 80’s business started getting better and the H-D Factory was using a few of their products on the XR750 and so were custom bike builders. Their products were available through H-D aftermarket distributors as well. They expanded their product line with drag racing components.
For the company to be more easily identified, the name was changed to Pingel Enterprise, Inc. in 1986.
Around 1987, Pingel Enterprise outgrew the 3-car garage. Wayne & Donna purchased property adjacent to the county airport and with many building additions over many years, it grew to 50,000 sq.ft.
Through the years Pingel Enterprise had various traveling display rigs for Daytona, Sturgis and Drag Races across the country.
In 2007, Wayne & Donna purchased a restaurant/bar and parking area for their yearly Sturgis sales location. That adventure became a lot of work for two weeks, but they really enjoyed visiting with the customers. Wayne and Donna did that until 2013 when they decided to put the property up for sale.
Pingel Enterprise’s drag racing product line helped in being selected by Harley-Davidson to produce products for their Destroyer.
Since 1994 Pingel Enterprise has been a sponsor for Top Fuel motorcycle world speed and ET record holder, Larry (Spiderman) McBride.
Through the years, Wayne has designed and patented 36 motorcycle related products and has many trademarks.
Motorcycles and airplanes are still Wayne and Donna’s passions, and they feel fortunate to have been able to enjoy both of them through the years.
Since they married, Wayne & Donna have worked side by side and they are very thankful for their journey together in the motorcycle industry. Wayne has recently retired, and Donna continues to do bookwork from home. However, they have plans for the business to continue when they fully retire.
A Special thanks to the Sturgis Museum Hall of Fame and all those involved for this induction. Wayne & Donna are honored and thankful to be inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.