Story By: DANIEL COHEN / JOHN WILLMAN RACING – BIRDSBORO, PA – Over the years it appears obvious that racing can often become an addiction for many. Year after year drivers, car owners, mechanics, fans, officials and media members continue to be active in a sport that we all obviously enjoy.
For many it’s been something they have done for their entire life. How many times have you heard someone say I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t racing. John Willman is a classic example of this.
As he begins his 32nd year behind the wheel of modified, the 51-year-old has always been actively involved in the sport. He has driven for other owners throughout the years but for the most part he’s usually wheeling his own #74w.
John will be in a new car for the upcoming season at the Grandview Speedway.
When the green flag drops on the “High Banks” John will be wheeling the KAM Fueled Racing #291 owned by Steve and Alex Bartorillo.
“They bought a brand new 2022 Bicknell chassis. We’re going to be using one of my motors from Wide Open Technologies at Grandview.”
Last year the “Ultimate Underdog” competed on the Short Track Super Series and at the Georgetown Speedway using his 358 spec motor against the more powerful open small block motors. It was like taking a knife to a gun fight, but he did it anyway. Why? He just loves the sport.
This year Willman plans to do the same however he now has a more powerful open small block motor to be used on the STSS.
“We raced the whole series with a spec motor last year. We didn’t have any top ten’s on the Super Series. At Georgetown we did have two top ten’s, one of them we finished in the top five.”
The STSS pays a $250 bonus for the highest finishing racer using a spec motor.
“Between Georgetown and the Super Series I won the bonus every time except the last race at Georgetown and that was when we crashed out.”
“We have an open small block 370 cubic inch motor. We’re going to try something different. It should do the job at most of the tracks. We’ll be at Grandview in the KAM Fueled Racing car and at Georgetown for all those races and all the STSS South races in my car. There are a couple of bucket list tracks I want to run. I’ll probably go to a couple of STSS North races like Fonda, Utica Rome and maybe Middletown. My car is also a new Teo Pro Car. We were planning to go to Florida but this motor didn’t get here fast enough and I was trying to get all the parts to put the new car together. I probably could get it together for Cherokee for the Elite Series race at the end of the month but we’ll probably skip that and concentrate on the opener at Georgetown.”
John’s life is all about racing. Besides his day job he spends all his time either working on race cars or racing them. He’s a one man band as he does 90% of the work by himself.
If he’s not racing he helps other racers. He’s crewed for a few other racers and served as a spotter at Syracuse for many years. He builds his own body panels, except for the fiberglass.
He estimates it takes him around 40 hours to build and fit a body for his modified. As you can see he has a passion for racing or maybe an addiction.