Professional NHRA driver Tim Wilkerson is honored to have earned an assortment of accolades throughout his 23-year career as a nitro Funny Car pilot. Making Autoweek’s Top 10 NHRA Funny Car Drivers of the Decade list, though, is one that is particularly special to the amiable, humble driver. The Springfield, Ill., native embraced the honor and sees it as a fitting complement to his recent agreement with Ford Performance to continue their partnership into the 2020 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“Autoweek is a respected publication, and to make that list means a lot,” said Wilkerson, who made his Funny Car debut in 1996 and since then has claimed 20 NHRA victories. “This couldn’t have happened without the support of Dick Levi and LRS, Ford Performance, Summit Racing, and all of the great folks who stand behind us.
“To be able to make this list based on performance validates all of the effort we put into our program. We want to have a great relationship with the folks who support us, and we appreciate our fans so much. We really want to give them something worth cheering for, and making this list feels like we’re accomplishing that.”
In Autoweek’s Drivers of the Decade competition, points were earned based on where drivers placed in the standings each season. Wilkerson was one of just four drivers in the category (Robert Hight, Ron Capps, and John Force) to finish in the top 10 each year of the decade, and he is proud to have accomplished the feat behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang Funny Car.
Wilkerson made the move to Ford Performance in 2009 and since that time has acquired 10 of those prestigious NHRA trophies for Ford. The only drivers to have more wins in a Ford Funny Car are Force and Hight.
“This is a great way to close out 2019 and ring in the New Year,” said Wilkerson. “Not only are we excited to extend our relationship with Ford, but we’re also thrilled to continue our partnership with Dick Levi and LRS. They’ve been so good to us for so long, and I don’t think there are many folks out there who can say they’ve had a relationship with a sponsor that spans over two decades. We feel like our 21st season with Levi, Ray & Shoup has the potential to be our best yet.”