RACING IS IN HIS BLOOD
Whether He is Behind the Wheel or Under the Hood, Bobby Wilkins Knows His Way Around a Race Car
“Anything that’s ever had a motor… I tried to get it to go fast… (it’s) in my blood,” This is how Bobby Wilkins described his passion for racing.
Wilkins grew up around racing. His first memories include watching his dad and uncle race at the old 5/8 mile track that was then known as I-57 Raceway. Back in the early 1980’s the cars they raced were considered Late Models; now they are more likened to a Street Stock. It was not long until Wilkins had to give it a try for himself.
“My brother and I got into Hobby Stocks. (We) looked it up online and got the rules,” Wilkins recalled. They then built their own race car from the ground up, which is a hobby that Wilkins continues to this day. He shared, “I build all my own stuff.”
Wilkins drag raced some in high-school. He also ran Street Block Late Models, which are similar to Crate Late Models, at Mt. Vernon Speedway and has also run motor cross.
While it is obvious that both his father and brother have had a considerable influence on his racing career. Wilkins credits his daughter, Megan who is seven-years old, with having the biggest influence on his career. As a divorced father who has his daughter every other weekend, Wilkins shared, “I don’t race much because of her,” citing the “dog days” of summer and her other interests as reasons that they do not make it to the track every week.[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]“Ecstatic,” is the word he used to describe how he felt when he got his first win[/pullquote]
Not that Megan is not interested in racing herself. In fact, Wilkins built her a go-kart of her own which is identical to his Street Stock car. She can also be found in the pits lending a helping hand to her dad. “She cleans the car up after the Heat races,” Wilkins shared. She also glued a lady bug on his dashboard for good luck. The significance being that her nickname is “Lady Bug”, and that way she can be there with him all the time.
Wilkins proved that racing is not only in his blood, but winning is in it also when he picked up his first win on his first night of racing in a Heat race, and by his third race, he picked up a Feature win.
“Ecstatic,” is the word he used to describe how he felt when he got his first win. “(I) melted the motor down doing it… (it) locked up going across the finish line.” Following the race he discovered the car had blown a radiator hose, but adapting is something Wilkins has gotten very good at. In his Feature win at Paducah International Raceway three weeks ago, he lost his power steering at the start of the race and had to run the entire Feature with no power steering.
Another milestone in Wilkins’ career came in the early part of 2000 when he was the Street Stock Track Champion at Mt. Vernon Speedway for three years in a row.
‘Between me and my brother (Johnny), we won every Feature there for two years in a row,” Wilkins shared. “(they) even put a bounty on us.” The bounty helped to no avail as the brothers proved to be unstoppable.
Other victories include a $500 to win Street Stock Special at Clay County Speedway in Flora three years ago where he led every lap.
“I do it for the trophies not the money,” Wilkins admitted. “My daughter keeps them in her room.” He also noted the expense that goes into racing and shared that “Even when I win, (with all the other expenses) I still don’t make any money,” he said.
Wilkins ran exclusively at Paducah International Raceway where he had a very successful season. He had a total of four Feature wins, three Heat wins, four Top-five Feature finishes, and six Top-10 Feature finishes—all while only running a part time schedule. One can only imagine the stats he would be posting if he were running every week.
When asked where he sees his racing career in five years, Wilkins shared, “(I’ll be) done. As much as I love it… like I said, it’s in my blood.” His daughter will be 10-years old then, and he plans on spending more time with her. He does admit that he would like to run a Late Model.
Could Megan possibly aspire to follow in her dad’s footsteps? Wilkins laughed, “I’m too over-protective to even think about that. I won’t even let her walk up the steps without holding on to her hand.”
Wilkins currently drives the #78 Street Stock which he sponsors himself. When he is not racing he likes to build custom cars and motorcycles. He also has a ’28 Model-A sedan that he is rebuilding.
Whether he is behind the wheel or under the hood, Bobby Wilkins proves he knows his way around a race car. Come to Paducah International Raceway on Friday nights and see him in action as he shows that he knows his way around a race track too.