Reeling in Success IHRA Drag Racer Gene Wilson Catches the "Big One" CANTON, Ga. (Nov. 8, 2001) -- Growing up, Gene Wilson watched his dad, professional bass fisherman Orlando Wilson, win tournament after tournament. The young Wilson was the ...
Reeling in Success
IHRA Drag Racer Gene Wilson Catches the "Big One"
CANTON, Ga. (Nov. 8, 2001) -- Growing up, Gene Wilson watched his dad, professional bass fisherman Orlando Wilson, win tournament after tournament. The young Wilson was the full-time angler's biggest fan.
Now, it seems, the roles are reversed.
It's the elder Wilson who now sits on the sidelines watching his 28-year-old son win national event after national event in the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Drag Racing Series, Sunoco Race Fuels Pro Stock category.
In just his third full season in drag racing's most competitive class, Wilson, behind the wheel of the Charlie Hunt-owned, Don Smith-sponsored Mercury Cougar, captured the 2001 IHRA Pro Stock World Championship -- winning an impressive eight national events and tying legendary drag racer Bob Glidden's record for the most wins in one season.
"I never thought we'd win eight races in one season, never," Wilson said. "And never in my wildest dreams did I think my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as Bob Glidden's, much less be next to his in the record books. Bob is nothing short of legend in my eyes and in the eyes of most drag racers. I have admired him all my life. It's absolutely amazing. I still can't believe it."
Having not won a national event in his career until this season, Wilson learned -- from spending long days on the water with his dad -- that good things come to those who wait.
"In prior years, I often felt like a mule running in the Kentucky Derby," he recalled. "We did a whole lot of losing. This was the first year that I wasn't the driver and the crew chief. Gary Henry, my crew chief this season, really took a lot of pressure off of me. For the first time, I didn't have to worry about tuning the car as well as driving it. I was able to just concentrate on driving."
In addition to capturing the IHRA Pro Stock World Championship and tying Glidden's record, Wilson also set an IHRA Pro Stock national elapsed time and speed record with a 6.532-second, 213.37 mph run at Budds Creek, Md. He also earned the No.1 qualifying spot at nine consecutive IHRA events, qualified first for the Sunoco Race Fuels Pro Stock Shootout and set new elapsed time and speed records at nine different tracks.
Looks like the senior Wilson's trophy room might have to share some of its shelf space.