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J.C. Wilson Making Another East Bay Appearance

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J.C. Wilson Making Another East Bay Appearance

J.C. Wilson Making Another East Bay Appearance

By: Brian McLeod

ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. — The Crate Racin’ USA-sanctioned 602 Late Model Sportsman division will soon be making a first-ever appearance at third-mile East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., as part of the tradition-rich Florida Winternationals, and the three-day event scheduled Feb. 18-20 at the third-mile oval is expected to draw an eclectic field of entries that will span the spectrum from track champions to seasoned veterans to complete rookies.

Toss J.C. Wilson’s name into the proverbial hat, and while the young driver from Florida’s Panhandle region only has two previous driving experiences at the semibanked facility, he’s looking forward to his third visit to a track that can both frustrate and challenge competitors more than most places across the country. It’s a notorious spot for rapidly-changing track conditions, which helps keep the racing interesting on a consistent basis.

“We went there last year for the Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series events, and we faired pretty well for our first time there,” the Milton, Fla., driver said. “It’s a very tricky place, that’s for sure. It’ll be sloppy at times, slick at times, then it’ll be wet again, and it’ll change every night when we’re down there. It’s a tough racetrack to figure out. During the races, it’ll sometimes change from lap to lap. It’s wild.”

Wilson also attended the recent Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout Series events held Feb. 3-6 at the facility while preparing for a move up in divisions this season with the Adairsville, Ga-based organization. He’s had success in both Street Stocks and 602 Late Model Sportsman, including a third-place finish in the 2020 national points rankings in the latter division.

Early Learning
Wilson’s career evolved at a young age, and has been guided by his father Frank Wilson, who raced for years around the family’s home region and often beyond. Wilson has a long association as a driver with Crate Racin’ USA, and his young son tagged along with the race team as early as five years old. That was an experience that definitely rubbed off on the youngster.

“My Dad was racing every Friday and Saturday night, and I think that was around ’07 when I was a little kid,” the younger Wilson said. “He always told me when I got to be 12 years old, we’d get a race car for me. There were times I was allowed to miss school to travel to races with him. When I turned 12, we went to see [now three-time Crate Racin’ USA Street Stock champion] Ricky Idom in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Dad placed an order to get me a car.”

A Budding Career
The younger Wilson’s first victory in the Street Stock division was tallied at age 13 when he beat his father at Southern Raceway in Milton, Fla. He also defeated dear ole’ Dad (at age 14) for the division’s season championship the next year by close to a 200-point margin, and won three races along the path to the title.
His career is already spotted with a notable amount of victories, rookie of the year awards and track championships, plus Wilson has mostly advanced to the 602 Late Model Sportsman class, and is about to embark on another step with a planned advancement into the 604 Late Model division.

“We’ve been using the 602 car to run a few 604 events here and there,” Wilson said. “We plan to run a lot more during the 2021 season, and we have a motor available to make the next move up. My father wants me to travel a little bit, because he says you’re only going to be as good as the drivers you’re racing against. We want to travel around some, and compete against the best in the division at some different tracks to see where we stand running against them.”

Counting Points Toward the Future
Last year’s successful season wasn’t designed to happen exactly the way it did, but Wilson did well enough early in the year to decide to battle for the division’s championship on a national scale. His third-place ending behind national champion Ryan King of Anniston, Ala., and runnerup Brett White was an eye opener for the budding competitor, and a sure sign that the younger Wilson’s in-the-shop and at-the-track lessons from his father have taken hold.

“We never planned on points racing when last year started,” Wilson said. “We had a few good runs early in the season, and just kinda got caught up in it. We figured we might as well take a run at the title, and see how it turned out.”

As the young man’s career continues to unfold, it will be his father’s advice that constantly rings in his ears, and likely at times above the roar of the car’s motor.

“I’ve been going to races with him a long time,” Wilson said. “He’s guided me and given me advice my whole career. I’d get off school, and go straight to the shop to help him work on his cars. He’s always been there to help me. He’s always told me that some people aren’t serious enough about this stuff, so I’ve always tried to put a lot of effort into it because he’s always told me that’s what you have to do to be successful.”

By: Brian McLeod


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