Ennis, Texas (Sept. 16, 2009) – When Tim Wilkerson earned the Funny Car victory at the 2008 O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, he thought he had the world at his beck and call.
Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray and Shoup Shelby Mustang drove into first place in the Funny Car standings after the Dallas event in ’08 by beating Tony Pedregon – the driver in first place at the start of the 2008 Countdown.
“Well, obviously, (the 2008 Texas Motorplex win) was just huge for us, and we really thought we had the world by the tail just about then,” Wilkerson said. “We came into the Countdown in the top spot, then when we won Dallas we felt really good about our chances and kind of allowed ourselves to think that maybe (the championship) was meant to be.
“We went right from there and won Memphis, but we learned a big lesson after that. Like they say, ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over,’ and Cruz Pedregon answered our back-to-back wins and trumped us by winning the last three races to take the championship.”
Going into the 2009 Countdown playoff series of six events, Tony Pedregon leads the Funny Car pack.
Wilkerson is in sixth place, hoping to make a similar move up the standings with another victory at the Texas Motorplex when the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals comes for the 2009 stop (Sept. 24-27). The Motorplex is the second of six playoff events in 2009.
Wilkerson won’t have to worry about Cruz Pedregon this year –he missed the Countdown cut. But he will have Tony Pedregon, four John Force Racing cars and five other anxious teams to contend with as he seeks his first NHRA Funny Car championship.
Ashley Force Hood, fresh off her victory at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, is in third place in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. John Force is in seventh place with his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Mike Neff (Force Racing Ford Mustang) and Robert Hight (Auto Club Ford Mustang) are ninth and 10th, respectively.
“We are really excited to be returning to the Texas Motorplex for the second race of the Countdown,” Force Hood said. “The track is in good shape and since this race falls at the end of September, we are hoping for cool conditions and I think fans will see great times and speed and some amazing races at this event. Every round of the Countdown from qualifying to the finals is critical and we hope to be doing both very well at the Dallas event.”
Hight managed to slip into the 10th and final Countdown spot at the U.S. Nationals – the last of 18 opportunities racers had to qualify for the 10 Countdown positions. Only the top 10 drivers in each professional category are eligible for the playoffs and quest for a championship title.
Hight earned the 2006 Funny Car victory at the Motorplex and believes his team is poised to continue a recent upswing in performance.
“My Auto Club Mustang’s performance has really been coming around the last couple of races,” Hight said. “Our team earned the No. 1 qualifier in Indy and almost beat Ashley in the final. I am looking forward to getting to some of the tracks that are constructed to be high performance tracks. The Texas Motorplex is definitely one of those tracks with its all-concrete racing surface and great conditions. I have been to the winner’s circle there before and I’d like to get back there this year. Billy Meyer (Texas Motorplex owner) was a great funny car driver and to be able to win at his track is a big deal to me.”
Waco resident and legendary drag racer Billy Meyer opened the Motorplex in 1986. Meyer had the benefit of a Funny Car racing career to help create the sport’s first super stadium that rewarded fans with some of the best seating in racing while equally benefiting the competitors with an all-concrete racing surface that serves up more consistent racing surfaces in both lanes.
He knows the racers look forward to competing on the Motorplex surface and makes sure the Motorplex staff has the quickest and fastest surface possible.
“We built this facility so that both fans and racers win when coming to the Motorplex,” Meyer said. “We’re proud to provide our fans the best racing at a great facility that does everything possible to make sure racers can put on the best performance possible for the people sitting in the seats.”
Wilkerson is hoping to get another serving of Texas hospitality next week when the competition lines up on the all-concrete surface for some heated side-by-side racing.
“Winning at the Motorplex is a great deal because the Texas fans are terrific and it’s a unique atmosphere at a great track,” Wilkerson said. “We loved winning there, and we’d love to do it again, for sure. This time, if we’re in the hunt for the championship, we’ll be on a mission to keep it going and not let anyone sneak up on us, right to the end.”
Sportsman qualifying begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24. The first of four rounds of professional qualifying is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sept. 25, continuing at 4:45 p.m. that evening. Qualifying wraps up with sessions at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 26. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sept. 27.
Tickets for all four days of racing can be purchased by phone at 800-MOTORPLEX (800-668-6775); www.texasmotorplex.com; or through Ticketmaster.
The “problem” at Indy, or more accurately, the “HIGHT-light” of an otherwise mundane season, was the direct result of a moronic and “un-en-FORCE-able” rule in place to begin with (puns intended).
If I were King, there would be NO RULE against “team orders” or “intentionally” manipulating the outcome of a race. There would be no such rule because to make one is nothing more than foolishly attempting to bend the following un-bendable, “natural laws”:
1. You can’t legislate morality.
Whether laying down for a teammate is “right” or “wrong” is, at best, arguable.
This King’s position is that it is not only “right” to do so, but to do anything else is stupid and self defeating. In baseball it’s called a “Sacrifice Play”; in billiards, it’s called a “Safety”, and its all part of the game. Is the ball player who bunts actually “cheating”, or doing what’s in the best interest of the team?
And, what would have been accomplished had he taken out his teammate? It would have accomplished nothing, except letting his sponsors and fans down by preventing his teammate from getting to “second base”, and having a shot at the championship.
How smart was it, in a previous season, when a racer who was not in contention at all, took out his own teammate; a teammate who could very possibly have won the championship? Did that racer get an ovation for “doing the right thing”? No, no one really cared and all that remained was the obvious question, “why’d he do that?”
When such a rule is in place, aren’t those who attempt to enforce it actually guilty of breaking their own rule; of “intentionally manipulating” the outcome of a race?
No matter your personal position, attempting to legislate morality is futile.
2. The first rule of racing is: “If it’s gray it’s legal; if it’s undetectable, it’s legal”.
Team orders fall into the “undetectable” category. No matter how you slice it, it’s impossible to actually PROVE that one “intentionally” lost a race. “Intention” is an intangible, and as such is very difficult if not impossible to prove.
One of my loyal subjects suggested that allowing multi-car teams is the real problem.
This King disagrees with that as well, as again, it would be impossible to prevent independent team owners from making “deals”, and even harder to prove it if they did.
3. “Inconsistent” (as in “we’re going to look for any inconsistencies”) is a relative term, and therefore impossible to define.
When facing a teammate, is there a rule that says your tune-up has to be “consistent”? No, there is not! And if there were, exactly where would the line between “consistent” and “inconsistent” be? And, more importantly, who is the person qualified to draw that line?
And, even if there are no “inconsistencies” in the tune-up, what’s to prevent a driver from (“intentionally”) red lighting, driving out of the groove or being late? And if they did or if they were, can it be proved it was “intentional”? The answers of course, are “Nothing” and “No”.
4. “Fairness is the enemy of justice”
One of the most attractive aspects of drag racing, is the fact that it’s almost completely free of judgment calls. Once those two cars stage, and short of crossing the centerline, what happens between the start and the finish line is entirely up to just three people; the two drivers and the Lord above. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it should be!
At Indy, the truth is there actually was no problem at all; there was just some darn good and very smart racing! The “perceived” problem was only in the minds of those who failed to take full advantage of the enforceable rules, and instead chose to give credence to one that is not; to hang their hopes on a “Pooka”!
The sanctioning body should know that including “Pookas” (un-enforceable rules defined in relative terms) in their rulebook, will only cause confusion, division and needless controversy.
If I were King, team orders would immediately be “de-criminalized”, and there would be no such prohibition in all of Nostalgia Land!
-Blood Did It
The Texas Motorplex has had the honor of having drag racing’s most prolific artist, Kenny Youngblood, create the first of a one of a kind racing t-shirt with the official “Blood Did It” signature. This shirt can be purchased online or at the Texas Motorplex Souvenir Stands at all drag racing events. Do not miss the opportunity to have this one of a kind “Blood Did It” shirt.
Reprinted courtesy of VintageFuel.com Magazine
Doug Stanley Ford Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center will be hosting their grand opening on Thursday September 24 from 3pm-6pm.. The Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center will service all makes & models and is located at 515 N. I-35E South, De Soto, Tx. 75115. Doug Stanley Ford is a major supporter of the Texas Motorplex, and was the local presenter for PINKS All Out last March.
Special appearances by: Bob Tasca III, of the Tasca & MotorCraft/QuickLane Racing Team, 1968 428 Cobra Jet Mustang, originally driven & owned by Bob Tasca Jr. Live KLUV Radio with Kathy Jones of the Jody Dean Morning Show.
Check the back of your ticket to the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals for more contact info for Doug Stanley Quick Lane or call 972-223-8050 or visit www.fords247.com
McBride to ride for Karl Klement/Rush Racing at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals
Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Angie McBride will ride Karl Klement’s Buell at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec.
McBride, fiancée of former world champion Matt Smith, has been competing sporadically on the tour this year aboard one of Smith’s bikes and hopes that the Dallas audition might lead to a more full-time role for 2010.
“I’m excited because this may be a stepping-stone to the future,” said McBride. “Hopefully it is.”
Smith built and mounted the engine in the bike that formerly was ridden by Peggy Llewellyn and Angelle Sampey.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I am going to go to the track and ride Karl’s bike,” she said. “If I keep that focus, I think we will do well. You have to keep focused on the job at hand. It’s about getting the bike down the track. Thank you Karl and Kim Klement and Rush Racing for providing this opportunity.”
Although Klement, who parked his operation for this season due to business demands, still is undecided about 2010, he has been active this year in that he has provided some teams with engines to gauge the competitiveness of his parts.
“By the end of the year and January, I’ll know where I am at,” he said. “For Rush Racing and Doc’s Harley-Davidson, we’re really excited about getting out there again.”
Klement also is excited about having McBride on his team. “All she needs is a little opportunity and seat time,” he said. “She can win. She is very capable of being a winner.”
The Super Seats at the Texas Motorplex offer one of the most unique drag racing experiences in the sport. The Super Seat grandstands have seat backs with a unobstructed view down the track straight to the scoreboards with the afternoon September sun at your back. Super Seat ticket holders have access to a dedicated Texas Motorplex Concession Stand located under the grandstands. All Super Seat tickets come with pit passes included and have easy access to the Top Fuel pits and the Manufacturer Midway. Super Seat packages come in Full Event, September 24-27, for $225.00 and Weekend, September 26-27, for $190. Click here to order you Super Seats NOW!
Want to up the ante a bit? Order Champions Club tickets and get the same benefits as the Super Seats you will also recieve meals, preferred parking, souvenir grab bag and access to the exclusive Texas Motorplex Champions Club. Click here for more info about the Champions Club.