D. WILK READY FOR 2010 DEBUT WITH HELP FROM DUMP-LOK JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2010) -- When Daniel Wilkerson rolls his car forward and completes his burnout late this Friday afternoon at Route 66 Raceway, it will have been 242 days since the last...
D. WILK READY FOR 2010 DEBUT WITH HELP FROM DUMP-LOK
JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2010) -- When Daniel Wilkerson rolls his car forward and completes his burnout late this Friday afternoon at Route 66 Raceway, it will have been 242 days since the last time he competed in a nitro Funny Car on the NHRA Full Throttle tour. That's about 241 more days than Wilkerson would have liked, but at least he'll be back in action this weekend as the Full Throttle tour invades the Chicagoland region at Route 66. In addition, young Wilk will welcome major associate sponsor support from Dump-Lok, a dump truck safety brace device manufactured by Worksafe USA, based in Springfield, Ill.
October 5, 2009 was the date, and oddly enough the racing action was taking place in Memphis on a Monday, after rain washed out the regular schedule. D. Wilk was lined up on the right side of the track, controlling lane choice over Ron Capps, and he quickly showed the innate instincts of a natural driver by leaving the line first before pulling away to what clearly appeared to be his first career round win when, both literally and figuratively, the wheels came off. One massive crash and about eight months later, and the second-generation driver is finally set to do what he wished he could've done the day of the incident.
"I was ready to race again before I came to a stop out there, I think," Wilkerson said. "I was absolutely ready to race within minutes, and it's been killing me to wait this long, but we couldn't force the issue. We didn't want to come out here and do it on a complete shoestring, and we knew we needed to step up the whole program, so that's all taken some time. Now we have a new full-size transporter and some help from Dump-Lok to get us on the track, and the goal is to not just race, but win. If not the race, then at least some rounds.
"Last year, I was lucky enough to get to race at two events, and we out-qualified my dad (Tim Wilkerson) at both of them, so that was great. In Memphis, we were on our way to beating Ron, I think, and that would've been another big step in the journey, but then the wreck happened and I didn't have a race car after that. Now, we'll be pulling into the track in style, with this transporter we bought from Don Prudhomme, and we'll be focused on racing. I can't wait."
In a bit of "what goes around comes around" style, D. Wilk will be repeating various bits of history when he races this weekend. First of all, Route 66 Raceway was the location for his successful nitro Funny Car licensing procedure, and with the track being little more than a couple of hours north of his home in Springfield, it's the site of many fond memories for the young driver. Secondly, in a reversal of last year's chassis allocation, D. Wilk will now be driving his father's 2009 car, which was also utilized at the first three races this season, and atop that chassis will sit a 2009 Levi, Ray & Shoup/Dump-Lok Shelby Mustang. In exchange, his dad grabbed the '08 car in which young Wilk crashed, had it repaired, and is now competing with it again.
"My dad won two races with this car last year, and we have a whole computer's worth of data on it, so we feel like we can hit the ground running," Wilkerson said. "As long as the wait has been since Memphis last year, it's also still pretty cool to come back out at Joliet. We'll be in my home state, at a great facility, and now I can add to the memories a bit more. I not only got my license here, I also did my first "Race Day" show on live TV, last year, so that was pretty memorable. Now, the goal is to get qualified, maybe pick up some win lights, and not scratch Dad's other car."
Worksafe USA markets Dump-Lok, a set of safety braces for dump truck beds, to address a dangerous and sometimes fatal issue of bed collapses when trucks are being unloaded or serviced. The braces fit between the bed and the frame rails, locking the lifted bed in place and allowing workers to safely unload or work on their trucks without the danger of collapse. With the company being based in Wilkerson's home town and this race being contested on Illinois soil, the fit was a natural.
"We're excited to have them with us, along with all of the other companies that support my dad's effort and everything we do here at Team Wilkerson," D. Wilk said. "It's great that a local company wants to be involved, and as my dad has shown with Levi, Ray & Shoup, there's a lot to be said for working with people you know and people who are close-by.
"As soon as I heard about the product and saw what it does, I knew this was something we'd want to get behind and promote. When you're standing next to a heavy dump truck and they lift that bed, you don't even want to think what would happen if it collapsed. Dump-Lok solves the problem, and we hope our race car helps them market themselves to a wide range of new customers."
The story line is a good one: Young driver makes dramatic comeback after eight long months on hiatus, driving father's car to the Winner's Circle with new local sponsor in tow, triggering a spike is sales and a new wave of visibility for the company. Anyone who knows Dan Wilkerson would know that script is no flight of fancy.