TEAM WILKERSON MOURNS THE PASSING OF MARK BENSON SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 2, 2009) -- Mark Benson, 54, of Springfield, Ill. passed away on June 2, 2009 at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, after a lengthy battle with health problems...
TEAM WILKERSON MOURNS THE PASSING OF MARK BENSON
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 2, 2009) -- Mark Benson, 54, of Springfield, Ill. passed away on June 2, 2009 at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, after a lengthy battle with health problems associated with diabetes. Benson was a major part of the Wilkerson Racing organization for many years, a founding member of the "Wilk Warriors" group of supporters, and a dear friend to the Wilkerson family and the entire team.
Tim Wilkerson originally befriended "Big Mark" when racing his bracket car throughout the Midwest during the mid-80s. Benson and friend Ron Boyd campaigned their Benson & Boyd car at many of the same tracks frequented by Wilkerson, and in 1991 both became crew members on Wilkerson's Top Alcohol Funny Car. After Wilkerson made the move to the Nitro Funny Car class, both Benson and Boyd stayed with the program. Benson was also a contributing member of Daniel Wilkerson's Top Alcohol Funny Car team, which won the NHRA Division 3 championship in 2007. Benson was a fixture in the Team Wilkerson pit area for nearly two decades, and was known, respected, and loved by racers, crew members, and friends.
In recent years, as his health problems slowed him down, Big Mark continued to show his devotion to the sport and his loyalty to the Wilkerson team as one of the founders and key members of the Wilk Warriors fan group, made up of avid supporters and close friends throughout Central Illinois and the Midwest. He most recently spent a weekend with the team at this year's race in St. Louis, May 1-3.
"Big Mark was bigger than life, but his body just couldn't keep up with his heart," said Tim Wilkerson. "He went back in the hospital after the St. Louis race, and we knew his challenges were big, but he's such a strong guy a part of you think he must be invincible. Sadly, none of us are. I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend some quality time with Mark on Monday this week, and his strength and resolve were still in full force, but his body finally failed him. He will be missed by every person he ever met, and especially by my wife Krista and our family, every member of our team, and the large group of people who are associated with us. If you knew Mark, he was your friend. I'm a better racer, and we're a better race team, because of his involvement over all these years, and I'm a better person for having had him in my life."
Benson is survived by two sisters (Margo Benson and Rosemary Tuetken) and a brother (Jeff Benson).
Visitation will be held at Hough Funeral Home in Hillsboro, Ill. on June 3, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. at Hough Funeral Home, on June 4.
Condolences to the family may be left at: www.houghfuneralhome.com