While business interests in his hometown of Oklahoma City occupy much Donnie Wilson’s time, his true passion is for racing. The 48-year-old star of the pavement Super Late Model ranks has been considered one of the top competitors in that form of racing for quite some time. And to that end, the 2017 winner of the prestigious All-American 400 at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway would love to race even more than he currently does.
Even though his number of starts might not necessarily be eye popping, his finishes in those races have been worthy of note. With seven starts in the books so far in the 2019 season, the former Southern Super Series champion has scored five top-5 results even with crashes ruining two of his efforts.
A season high second place run in the North/South Super Late Model Challenge in Nashville along with a third and a fourth at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. and a fourth at Alabama’s Montgomery Motor Speedway led into the recent Throwback 276 event at Hickory Motor Speedway. Despite having never raced at the historic North Carolina facility before, Wilson led laps in the CARS Super Late Model Tour sanctioned race before finally coming home with a fifth place finish.
“It’s been up and down,” Wilson told InsideCircleTrack.com when asked about his 2019 campaign prior to the Throwback 276. “I mean we’ve only run maybe six races. In the dirt world they run two or three nights a week. I’d love to be able to do that, that would be awesome. Of course, funding is a big thing. you have to be able to fund it and that’s a whole other ballgame.”
With an auto parts business and other dealings going on, Wilson can’t carve out the time to race as often as some other Super Late Model competitors. And more, travel to and from Oklahoma just to get to the sites of many of his races can be very time consuming. Those with more starts throughout the year have somewhat of an advantage over those who can’t make it to the track as often. The driver of the No. 2 machine says that leaves his team often playing catch up.
“If you notice, the Bubba Pollards and Casey Rodericks and those guys win a lot of races because they’re racing every week,” he pointed out. “They’re fine tuning and in tune with everything more often than guys who run once or twice a month.”
Wilson is very much involved with his team. However, his work keeps him in Oklahoma City even though the shop that maintains his cars is located in the more stock car racing-centered state of North Carolina.
“I live in Oklahoma City and the shop is in Mooresville,” he pointed out. “I’ve got guys who work on my stuff. But honestly, with two cars and even though we haven’t raced much we’ve been putting cars together since February. It takes a lot of time to do that and get everything right so that’s what we’ve been doing.”
This season Wilson is racing with a new chassis produced by NASCAR driver Kyle Busch’s Rowdy Manufacturing. One of the reasons Wilson came halfway across the country to race in Hickory was to continue developing a feel for his new car.
“They’re new this year so we’re just trying to get accustomed to those a little bit,” the driver who has scored two top-5 finishes in the prestigious Snowball Derby said. “My driving style is a little different than the other guys who run them. That’s why I came here. I’ve actually never raced here at Hickory but I did test here one time with Trevor Noles. We came here, kind of out of my element a little bit, to see what we can do tonight.”
The new chassis came into being as a result of the combination of Busch’s Rowdy Manufacturing and Hamke Race Cars. The move to the Rowdy machine was a natural step for Wilson.
“We were running Hamke cars and obviously they got bought out and we just decided to go that direction since their stuff is located in Mooresville and that’s just kind of what we did,” Wilson explained. “We’ve got two new cars now and we’re pretty happy with them because every time we’ve finished we’ve been in the top-5. All the other guys who’ve got them have wins and we don’t have one yet so I’ve got to figure out why not.”
The veteran driver says that even with the new car he is driving in 2019, the basics of racing remain the same.
“I feel a little bit of difference but it’s still a race car. It’s still shocks, springs, tires and everything else. Just because it’s a new doesn’t mean it’s going to be the thing for you or make you win automatically. You’ve still got to work on your stuff every week and that’s what we’re doing.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
Respond to this piece on Twitter –> @RichardAllenIDR
or on Facebook –> InsideCircleTrack/Facebook