Jerry Wilfong took seven years to build his car in which he won the TTA championship in his first year of competition.
Jerry Wilfong
Age:57
Region:Central
Hometown:Sioux Falls, S.D.
Racing Class:TTA/TT3
Sponsors:T-Brothers Logistics, Excessive Autosports, Redline Oil, OG Racing, Maximum Motorsports, Hawk Performance, Simpson Safety, & Hoosier Tire
Day Job: Dispatcher at T-Brothers Logistics
Favorite Food:Steak & Lobster
Favorite TV Show:“Justified”
Favorite Movie:Grand Prix
Favorite Book:1998 Mustang shop manual

 

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Jerry Wilfong’s love of cars started early. He spent his childhood tinkering with bicycles to make them faster, but when one of his neighbors began racing on the IMCA circuit, Wilfong found himself more interested in their racecar than he was his bicycles, and he began frequenting their race shop.

“They were pretty patient with a little kid hanging around,” Wilfong said. “I was someone to hand them tools and help around the shop.”

When he was 11 or 12, he started racing karts on the dirt tracks around his hometown of Russell, Minn., back when they used McCulloch chainsaw engines to power them. He made the leap from four wheels to two at age 18, when he entered his first motocross event.

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“I only competed in one event,” he said with a chuckle. “I was first into the first corner and the first one down, and 40 other riders used me as a pick to get off that corner. So I found out that was not for me.”

He still liked motorcycles, so he started drag racing them, and cars, too, in the National Hot Rod Association and the International Hot Rod Association, but his wife of 34 years, Geri, who accompanied him to the races, encouraged him to get off two wheels and into something with four tires on the ground.

Wilfong was able to continue the points chase when his employer and sponsor T Brothers Logistics extended his budget.
Wilfong was able to continue the points chase when his employer and sponsor T Brothers Logistics extended his budget.

“I had a near miss at the track and, of course, it had to be the one time she was standing right there and saw everything,” Wilfong said. “The bike got out of control and stuff, so that discussion ended my drag racing motorcycles. Then I moved into cars.”

As time wore on, Wilfong began to crave more than just quick passes on a drag strip, so in 1985 he progressed into autocrossing. He was deeply involved in the sport for more than a decade, and won divisional and regional championships, and scored a couple of top 10 finishes at the solo national championships in Topeka, Kan. When he returned from the nationals in 2000, he bought his current car, a 1998 Mustang, which he stripped to the tub and as time and funding allowed, began a build that became more and more involved every step the way. Oh, and he did everything but lay the welds for the roll cage in his 15 x 20 single-car garage.

Wilfong built his Mustang in a single-car garage at home.
Wilfong built his Mustang in a single-car garage at home.

Seven years later, it was done. He showed the car a couple of times, and as you might expect, began taking it to open track days with the local Shelby and Porsche Owners clubs. He was hooked, but his budget was limited.

“I was kind of running on empty after 2011, and my employer asked me what my plans were for 2012,” said Wilfong, a grandfather of three. “I told him that I didn’t really have any plans because of funds. He told me to do some research to see if there was a series, or something available that would gain the company some exposure, something he could use as a marketing tool and to get back to him.”

That’s when he discovered NASA’s TT class, and it was just what he and his employer, T Brother Logistics, were looking for. He submitted his proposal and he was in business for a limited 2012 season. By the time the original budget was exhausted, he was leading the points in TTA and running second in points in TTS.

“So I went back to my employer and said, ‘Gee, it’d be a shame to come this far and not be able to attend the season finale to hopefully lock up the championship,’” he said. “So they were gracious enough to extend the sponsorship a bit more, and by doing so I was able to lock in the championship for TTA. I had a very good year.”

Wilfong likes the camaraderie in the Central Region. Even though he’s in Time Trials, he enjoys sharing his expertise with American Iron racers and some of the younger competitors. He’s even happy to loan a tool when needed.

“Funny story. The guy who was putting on lunch at the first NASA event I attended, needed a certain wrench for his barbecue, and of course I happened to have it,” he said. “I thought he was a competitor, but it turned out he was the barbecue guy. So I saved the day for lunch. I was the hero. He was able to get the barbecue working.”

Wilfong’s wife Geri no longer accompanies him to the track, but she does still help him bleed the brakes.

“I’m an old-school guy,” he said. “I like to be able to talk to the person and get a feel for how the pedal’s doing. She reminds that there are things that need to be done around the house when I’m done.

“It works out for the best,” Wilfong said “She stays home and takes care of business while I’m out enjoying my passion. Then I come back home and she’s got the garage door open and ready for me to put the car away.”

Image courtesy of Brett Becker

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