Tim Wilkerson has had quite the year so far. He has two wins in fifteen race-day starts, but he’s also has hit the wall twice. The first hit was in Topeka, shortly after he left the line, the car made a ninety degree angle into the wall. Wilkerson walked away unhurt, his racecar couldn’t say the same. He got it fixed and was racing at the very next event. But two weeks ago in Denver qualifying, his new Funny Car made a near identical head on impact on the guard rail, thus ruining another good chassis. The Levi, Ray, & Shoup team got to work to make sure their driver made it to the second race on the Western Swing that was set to take place in less than a week in Sonoma, California.
There was never a clear explanation on what exactly went wrong in Denver, so we went straight to the source, Tim Wilkerson. “We think we got it nailed down now. You’re not gonna be seeing that happen to us anymore. It’s just a problem that we never would have imagined but we think we’ve figured it out. We’re over it, we’re not talking about it anymore.”
Tim didn’t race on Sunday in Denver, so his team went straight to work in order to make it to Q1 in Sonoma on Friday. “It was quite hard, we didn’t think we’d get it done. I was thankful that we could get as much done as quickly as we did. Everyone really chipped in and all the sponsors helped. People did things I didn’t think they were gonna do with helping us get the car here and driving the car and truck. [The chassis] was here Thursday morning at 9 A.M. and it was bare. We spent all day working on it; left about 7:30 P.M. and came back Friday to get ready for Q1.”
So what exactly is involved with building a brand new chassis and getting it to a racetrack on the other side of the country in a few days? “Here’s what we did; we went straight to Illinois, then to Indiana and straight to Murph Mickinney. My kid and another guy took it to Muscatine, Iowa where one of our sponsors is and they deadheaded it out [to Sonoma] in the motorhome. We picked it up Tuesday at 11 o’clock and they were here Wednesday night. They charged really hard to get out here and it was just in his motorhome in a little trailer, just the bare chassis. Man, it needed a lot of work and Murph did a great job putting it together for us.”
Wilkerson only has one good frame and body, the injured one is still sitting at the top of his race hauler “It’s up in the trailer. We’re on the fence on how to get it back to Murph’s. We’re here racing with one body and one chassis; it’s not enough.”
The average person would probably play their runs a little safer than usual given the lack of equipment, but not Tim. “I haven’t even payed attention to it. We don’t come here to get beat so we run it as hard as we run it. If something happens to it we’ll try and fix it.”