DAN WILKERSON TO MAKE 2011 DEBUT IN BRISTOL
Dan Wilkerson, son of NHRA star Tim Wilkerson, will return to the NHRA Full Throttle tour, making his first 2011 appearance at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, with primary sponsorship backing from Summit Racing Equipment. Wilkerson will also compete the following week, in his Summit Racing Ford Mustang, at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk.
It's been a busy year for "D Wilk" since last season in Joliet, when he made his previous appearance on the Full Throttle tour. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois - Springfield, landed a job with an accounting and tax preparation firm, and has kept a toe in the drag racing waters by bracket racing at his "home track" MidState Dragway in Havana, Ill. This past weekend, D Wilk entered and won a bracket race, driving in the Super Pro class. He won six rounds of racing to take the trophy, running elapsed times in the 5.23-second range on the 1/8-mile track.
I can't wait to get to Bristol to strap into my Funny Car again.
"I just want to thank Summit Racing Equipment for having some faith in me and allowing me to get back out there in the Funny Car," Wilkerson said. "I went to the Atlanta and Topeka races, to help out with my dad's team and soak up some of his knowledge in the tuning room, and I can't wait to get to Bristol to strap into my Funny Car again. My brother Kevin and I went over to Havana to have some fun this past weekend, and we did pretty well. I won in my class, and he was runner-up in the Street class, racing on his motorcycle. That was a good time, but all I can think about is getting back in the Funny Car.
"Our goal in Bristol and Norwalk is to be competitive, make the show, represent Summit Racing Equipment as best as we can, and be an asset for my dad, rather than any kind of burden. We can double the data for him, and hopefully continue to run as well as we have over the last two years. Right now, we're all set to go and the only thing holding me back is the calendar. I wish next week would get here now."
The Bristol event will be D Wilk's fourth foray into Nitro Funny Car racing on the NHRA tour, and he has qualified solidly at each of his prior three races, earning the No. 8 spot at Topeka and Memphis in 2009, and the No. 10 spot in Chicago last season. His '09 Memphis start was marred by a major crash in the first round, when the rear wheels came of his Ford Shelby Mustang car and it slammed into the retaining wall at a high rate of speed. He was unhurt in the spectacular crash.
Jim Greenleaf, Motorsports and Events Manager for Summit Racing Equipment, is equally excited to get D Wilk back on the track, and like many others he sees a bright future ahead for the second-generation racer.
"Dan is a great young man, and a terrific Funny Car driver," Greenleaf said. "He's polished beyond his years, and really a natural in the car. He obviously gets a lot of that from his dad, and we've been honored to be associated with Tim for many years. For Summit Racing Equipment, this is a natural extension of our relationship with Team Wilkerson, and we know Dan will represent us well.
"It's also pretty obvious that Dan has a very bright future in the sport, and we're thrilled to partner with him, his dad, and the entire Team Wilkerson organization in Bristol and Norwalk. It would be a huge story if Dan were to go rounds and do some big things in the Summit Racing Ford, but it wouldn't surprise us one bit. He's just a success story waiting to happen."
D Wilk hopes to enter additional races later in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle season, although specific events and details have not yet been determined.
"I'd love to race the full schedule, believe me," Wilkerson said. "We've been out a few times in the past, doing it basically out of my dad's pocket with a little bit of help here and there, but we know the best way to get me on the track is to do it with marketing partners, so that we can run the car like we want to run it. My number-one goal is to be a full-time driver on the tour, and I'm not going to take my eye off that target. In the meantime, it's important to get out there and stay up-to-speed in the car, and Summit Racing Equipment is helping us do that. We'll make the most of it, and hopefully the people at Summit Racing will be happy with how we raced."