June 21, 2024

A Passion for Racing: Wilke's Auto Service and Their Sprint Car Journey

The Wilke Automotive wingless sprint car, driven by Eric Wilke, slides around the corner on a mud track.

American Advantage Insurance is proud to sponsor Wilke's Auto Service and their dedicated sprint car team (consisting entirely of family), led by driver Eric Wilke. This partnership reflects a shared commitment to community, family, and the thrill of the race. Let's take a closer look at the story behind Wilke's Auto Service and their racing endeavors.

The Roots of Wilke's Auto Service

Wilke's Auto Service has been a cornerstone in Wales, WI since 1973, when Bill Wilke founded the full-service auto repair shop. In 2008, Jim Wilke, Bill's son, took over the business, continuing the family's legacy. This family-operated business has maintained the same location since its inception, serving the local community with dedication and expertise.

A Family's Racing Heritage

Racing runs deep in the Wilke family. Bill Wilke began racing Street Stocks in the 1980s, and his passion for the sport was passed down through the generations. Present-day shop owner Jim Wilke’s brother Jeff started racing sprint cars in the same decade, and about 15 years ago he returned to sprint car racing after a hiatus, this time with winged sprint cars. Eric, inspired by his family, took to racing wingless sprint cars and has been involved in the sport from a young age.

Eric Wilke: The Driver

For Eric Wilke, driving the number 24 wingless sprint car is more than just a hobby; it's a family tradition. Growing up around his uncle Jeff’s car, Eric was naturally drawn to the sport. He loves the competition and the unique challenges that come with racing. "People come from all different backgrounds," Eric says, emphasizing that success in racing isn't about height or size but skill and determination. He takes particular pride in outperforming teams with more resources.

The Thrill of Wingless Sprint Car Racing

Wingless sprint car racing offers a distinctive set of challenges and thrills. These open-wheel cars, with their large rear tires and smaller front tires, race primarily on clay tracks. The conditions of the track can change dramatically during a race, starting wet and sticky and becoming dry and slick as the race progresses. Eric and his father Jim handle all the maintenance and adjustments themselves, while mother Sandra, sister Marie, and grandfather Bill help out in the pit on race days, making it a true family effort. The hard work is rewarding, not just for the race results but for the quality time spent together.

Eric's favorite track is Angel Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, where he achieved his first win in 2023. The track's circular layout makes it feel faster and more exciting compared to traditional oval tracks.

The Importance of Sponsorship

Sponsorship plays a crucial role in the success of the Wilke racing team. American Advantage Lindow Insurance provides essential support. Eric's long-standing friendship with Jon Oaks' son Connor and made this partnerships a natural fit. Eric appreciates the support from American Advantage Insurance, which helps keep the team competitive.

Engaging with Fans and Community

Eric and his family are deeply connected to their fans and the local community. They bring the race car to their shop a couple of times a year, allowing local kids to sit in it and experience the thrill up close. They also stay engaged through their Facebook page and distribute hero cards at races, featuring pictures of the car and sponsor information.

A Unique Perspective

Unlike many racers, Eric isn't superstitious. He doesn't have pre-race rituals, but he does avoid wearing the same t-shirt again if it brought bad luck in a race. This pragmatic approach is reflective of his overall attitude toward racing: focus on what matters and stay grounded.

American Advantage Insurance is honored to support the Wilke family's racing journey. Their story is one of passion, dedication, and the unbreakable bonds of family, epitomizing the spirit of community that we value so highly. We look forward to many more thrilling races and shared successes with Wilke's Auto Service.

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