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Billy Wilkerson


# 11


Billy and Gale Forester


Billy Billy with ud Kaedingd Dwight Cheney


Billy at the trailer


Billy with Ann


Billy with Evelyn Pratt


Billy

BILLY WILKERSON – THE MAN – THE DRIVER – THE CAR OWNER – THE HALL OF FAMER – THE LEGEND.

By Ken Wagner August 9, 2009

Billy Wilkerson was his own man, a quiet one in my memory, but a strong one. Although his sprint car driving career wasn’t as long as some, he still won 21 CRA victories beginning with his first one at Clovis, California in 1965 and ending at the same track on August 3rd in 1973. In his CRA career he racked up 59 fast times, 41 trophy dash wins and won the CRA championship in 1970. He is 24th on the all time win list that includes 305 drivers who have won at least one race! He won five 100 lappers, five 50 lappers and ran at Ascot Park, Irwindale and many more of the great tracks tracks of his day. Lofty numbers for Billy, but the respect this man commanded in the racing world to the end was the most impressive thing about him.

As a car owner he also won championships with Ron Shuman as his driver and continued to support several car owners in his later years including Buzz Shoemaker and Dwight Cheney among others. Billy, as a member of “the old guard”, was very involved in the original CRA and follow-on organizations thru the years and supported his racing right up to the end. He missed few races and his warm smile was ready for everyone who stopped in his pit.

One thing about Billy I didn’t know became clear to me when I asked him to be the Grand Marshall of the Wagsdash one year. He said no! But then went on to explain he didn’t like the attention and noted one time he got caught up in a winner’s circle for a Shuman win, he said he messed up and didn’t do it again. He said he didn’t like the limelight and respectfully declined my offer.

Billy was always there to support his world of racing and was vocal there. His fame included his induction into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Legends of Ascot Hall of Fame the same year. Everyone who knew him liked and respected him; he was never alone when out and about.

He will be celebrated at Rose Hills on Tuesday, August 11 at 1 PM. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be sent to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame or the Victory Junction Gang. Rest in peace Billy.

The following was written by Dave Ondo;

BILLY “THE KID” WILKERSON

You are in Southern California, and you find yourself in the grandstand at Ascot Park in Gardena California, Nov. 8th, 1969. There is coolness in the air as the sun is beginning to set behind you in the west, casting shadows on the front straight, but still highlighting the back straight of the tacky clay oval. Pushing onto the track is the Ernie Duncan Chevy driven by Billy “The Kid” Wilkerson, from El Monte, for his first qualification attempt for the CRA Sprint Car show. Over the P.A., you hear “and it’s a new track record at 21.26 seconds”. And there you have it, a new real life action hero. As an 8 year old, to witness the fastest man to ever turn a lap at Ascot, elevated the name Billy Wilkerson into Superman status. Who is that guy? What does he look like? How tall is he? What does he eat for breakfast? How high can he fly?

On August 5th, 2009, Superman lost his battle with Cancer and California lost a role model of what a real man was. First it was John Wayne, then Ronald Reagan, and now Billy Wilkerson. The rest of the world may not recognize Billy in the same breath as Wayne and Reagan, but for those of blessed to have witnessed Billy Wilkerson the driver, Billy Wilkerson the car owner, Billy Wilkerson the board member, and Billy Wilkerson the man/father/husband, we know we lost this week.

1970, 21, 24, 09-05-1965, 08-03-1973, 4, 2004:
1970 was the year that Billy won his CRA Championship.
21 was the number of CRA main event wins Billy enjoyed.
24th, is where Billy ranks all time in CRA main event wins.
09-05-1965 was the date of Billy’s first victory (Clovis Speedway)
08-03-1973 was the date of Billy’s last victory (Clovis Speedway)
4 – The number of tracks that Billy won at: CLOVIS/ASCOT/IRWINDALE/PACOIMA
2004 – Billy’s induction into the NATIONAL SPRINT CAR HALL OF FAME and named to the class of 2004 LEGENDS OF ASCOT.

Perhaps Billy was an even better car owner than he was as a driver. If you doubt that, just ask Ron Shuman, who owns the most CRA championships of all time, what kind of ride Billy put under his drivers.

So, the Checkered flag waves yet again, for another of our racing hero’s. Billy add’s his name to the tribute page on the Legends of Ascot page at http://www.legendsofascot.com/tributes.html

It was an honor and a privilege to have watched you race, Billy.
Thanks for the all the wonderful memories. May you rest in peace…in life’s victory lane.

Updated 07/11/17

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