Archive for Tim Wilkerson

NHRA: Not exactly off to a Full Throttle start, but not exactly lacking storylines, either

Posted in Blog, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by Martin Henderson

The first  two days of the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Pomona weren’t exactly run at full throttle. New series presenting sponsor Full Throttle Energy Drink must see the irony: “Go Full Throttle or Go Home,” which pretty much summed up the fan experience as the rain poured on Pomona. There was no throttling, and everyone went home wet. That is, if they came out to the track at all.

But you had to like the drama Saturday in the first day of on-track activities. Although Antron Brown at first appeared to run the fastest 1,000-foot time in history, the story of the day was Larry Dixon’s failure to qualify in the debut of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster.  With the team behind him that helped Tony Schumacher win his fifth consecutive title a year ago, Dixon’s debut was nothing short of disastrous, a full-throttle flameout. Lined up against Schumacher in the last pair of the day under threatening skies, Dixon encountered problems and coasted to the finish. He wasn’t going full throttle, and you can pretty much figure out what that meant.
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NHRA Funny Car preview: Expect the Hight of drama in this shootout

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon proved in 2008 that timing is everything. As two of the three North American racing series determine championships based on playoffs, the only thing that matters is making those playoffs.

That’s how Pedregon managed to win his first NHRA Powerade Funny Car title since 1992. He made the six-race playoffs, then won the last three races after winning only once in the previous 11 years.

The smart money in 2009 says the title will come down to a two-time champion and two-time runner-up, neither of whom finished in the Top 3 last season.

Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight.
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NHRA: Under pressure, Pedregon earns his money

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon had prepared himself for this moment. Had told himself everything would be all right, that he would be relaxed, that the first round of the 44th Auto Club Finals in Pomona would be just another race.

That’s what he kept telling himself, lying with every word.

Money time.

He was going up against journeyman Jerry Toliver. It would be OK.

Keep calm and stay focused. It was no different from 500 other runs in his career.

Then he tried to strap himself into his 8,000 horsepower Toyota Funny Car and it took hold.

The pressure that he said he would avoid? His body was imploding.

Money time.

Pedregon had crossed over into Ron Capps’ world, had discovered what it was like to be stuffed into a fishbowl and squeezed with a million dreams.
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NHRA: Hight looks like a championship force

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Robert Hight looks like he should be wearing a brown shirt and shorts and delivering my  packages from HSN. Parcel delivery. Short. Solid. Fit. And maybe that’s appropriate because in Hight’s day job, he delivers the mail for John Force Racing.

He drives a Funny Car 330 mph. For the last couple of years, he has just missed winning an NHRA Powerade Drag Racing championship.

“He’s got everything that it takes, not just to win a championship, but to win 10,” said Force, who has won 14 and knows a little something about what it takes. “I see so much of him in me. Ashley (Force) is still learning the ropes, but Robert is ready right now.”

Though nitro racing may be a crew chief’s sport — and Jimmy Prock is no lightweight — Hight has all the tools to saddle the horsepower and ride the lead car in Force’s Pony Express.
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NHRA: With moment gone, is success Capped?

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2008 by Martin Henderson

You never know when your moment has passed forever. There’s always tomorrow. At least, that’s the hope.

For Ron Capps, tomorrow has not yet come.

The best NHRA funny car driver to not win a championship suffered through a Powerade Drag Racing season that was about as successful as John Edwards’ campaign, but without the revelations of adultery.

So, at least he has that going for him.
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NHRA: Pedregon on fire and in Cruz control

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , on November 14, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Back in Feburary when the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing season began, Tony Pedregon made like illusionist David Copperfield and turned himself into a spectacular ball of fire.

Burned hands, burned eyebrows, burned up. But the most surprising thing about the defining image of the season-opening Winternationals was that the fireball was Tony and not his older brother, Cruz.

For the sons of Flamin’ Frank Pedregon, maybe such images are hereditary.

A full season later, it’s Cruz who is smokin’.
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NHRA: No need to fear, Wilkerson is here

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Tim Wilkerson has a gentle voice, a happy face and drag racing by the throat.

For years, he has raced with bandaids and bubble gum on a shoestring budget.

For years, he has been consigned to the second tier.

For years, he has been in the shadow of John Force, Tony Pedregon and Gary Scelzi.

Not this year.

He is the best story in motorsports, the second coming of Alan Kulwicki, who stunned NASCAR when his single car team won the Winston Cup championship in 1992.

In a sport with four Force entries, three Don Schumacher entries and two from the Pedregon brothers, Wilkerson is leading the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing championship. He has fewer resources than Kenny Bernstein and Del Worsham, yet six times this season he has held Sweet Wally Purebred over his head, the trophy that goes to every winner who is a real life Underdog.
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