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Tim Wilkerson, One of Funny Car’s Great Showmen, Talks PRO Superstar Shootout

Tim Wilkerson is trying not to think about the $250,000 prize that will come with a Funny Car win at the inaugural Scag Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, Feb. 8-10, at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Putting on a show for the fans sitting in the stands and watching live on FloRacing is the priority for the veteran driver, tuner, and owner. 

“I call [the prize money] a bonus because it’s not mine until the end of the day,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t ever count on stuff that I can’t count on. First, I believe we’re showmen. The money is great, but truthfully, it’s secondary. We’re trying to promote our sport and do a good job with the fans. [The event] is something that’s never been done, so I’m trying to look past the money.”

The PRO Superstar Shootout will begin with one qualifying session under the lights on Thursday, Feb. 8. Three more fast-paced rounds of qualifying will follow on Friday, Feb. 9. The eight qualified drivers in both Top Fuel and Funny Car and the 16 qualified drivers in Pro Stock will draw chips to determine the pairings for Saturday eliminations. The Top Fuel and Funny Car winners will walk away with $250,000 each, while the Pro Stock winner will take home $125,000. 

Unlike almost every other race Wilkerson has competed in over the course of his career in Top Alcohol Funny Car and nitro Funny Car, the PRO Superstar Shootout will not use an eliminations ladder. Qualified drivers will use a random chip drawing to determine pairings in the first two rounds of eliminations, adding an element of suspense to race day. 

“It’ll be neat drawing the chips out and not knowing who you’re going to race, so I’m looking forward to that,” Wilkerson said. “Hopefully I’m in the bag. It’s not guaranteed I’m going to be there, right?”

Indeed, Wilkerson is one of 13 drivers invited to take part in qualifying for the eight-car Funny Car shootout. The lineup includes four-time and reigning NHRA world champion Matt Hagan, 16-time world champion John Force, multi-time champions Ron Capps and Robert Hight, and recent first-time winner Chad Green, who defeated Wilkerson in the final round of the NHRA Finals under the direction of Wilkerson’s son, tuner Daniel Wilkerson. 

“I’m very fortunate to get to do what I do. I wake up every morning and that’s the first thing I think, especially when I’m at the dragstrip,” Wilkerson said. “I’m an old gas station guy. I get up every morning and go to work and work 10 or 12 hours a day minimum. To get invited to this Superstar Shootout and to be a part of what could be a history-making event, it’s an honor, to be real truthful with you. Especially considering all of the great drivers that are going to be there, including my teammate, Chad Green, who actually won the last race, that dirty dog.”

The Springfield, Illinois-based driver is also excited about the opportunity to represent his primary sponsor, Scag Power Equipment, at a race where the brand will have a significant presence as the title sponsor. He picked up one of his two NHRA event wins of 2023 at Chicago, the home race for Scag Power Equipment, so he’s experienced the thrill of winning in the company of CEO Randy Gloede and the company’s distributors and customers. 

But Wilkerson is in friendly company wherever he goes, as he’s built a hardcore fanbase known as the “Wilk’s Warriors.” He appreciates the role the fans play in the sport and his involvement in it, adding to his excitement for the fan-focused PRO Superstar Shootout. 

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“A lot of people call me and my son and my team a fan favorite,” Wilkerson said. “We are proud of that nomenclature that we get to be talked about in a favorable light for the fans. I’m always there for [the fans], no matter how old I get or how young I feel.”

The Scag Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by JHG, also featuring $250,000-to-win Top Fuel and $125,000-to-win Pro Stock, will take place Feb. 8-10 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Fla. Tickets are now on sale at https://bit.ly/scagpro. Fans can also watch the entire race live through FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3t04gHk. 

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