BECHTELSVILLE, PA Over the years John Willman has earned the “Underdog” name because he seemed to be able to do so much with so little or at least that has been the way it has been. These days the Birdsboro, PA veteran racer has been moving more toward being a top dog with strong support from his sponsors, in particular E-Z Release Pro Shop, the bowling equipment shop operated by ardent fans Warren and Joy Floyd in Phillipsburg, NJ, and his strong finishes in the NASCAR 358 Modified events at Grandview Speedway.
With the new season just a couple of weeks away Willman is planning to be a major factor in the 358 Modified events at Grandview starting with their opening race of the season which is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 7 p.m. The NASCAR Late Models will be the second part of the opening night doubleheader.
Willman, a winner of feature events at Grandview in the past, has a new Bicknell stock car chassis and an older Bicknell ready for the new season. He will be a Saturday night regular at the Bechtelsville, PA racing facility.
“ A top five finish in the final points at Grandview would make for a successful season,” said the 40-year-old racer. “And I think we can get a few feature wins. I think we can be a winner this season. We came close in 2010.”
Additional sponsorship support for the Willman racing effort comes from Hammer Bowling Balls. “I am really surprised by the number of people that visit with us in the pits after the races and want to talk about bowling,” said Willman who makes his living as a sales manager for Freightliner of Philadelphia, “I have learned a lot about bowling since Warren and Joy got involved with the team. And they have really stepped up our racing program.”
Raceplace Hobbies of Quakertown, PA have been with Willman since the beginning of his career. Other sponsors are Hampton Bros. Truck Repairs in Pottstown, PA, Brian Strausser General Contracting, J.C. Landscaping of Birdsboro and D&D Collision of Pottstown. Product sponsors include Twin Air Filters, Brad Penn Oil, Mr. Leak Radiators and Fastaxle along with Larry Lombardo Racing Engines.
Willman has what may be a skeleton crew for his team with his wife Beth being the hardest workier as she not only works with the race team but also with John’s racing parts business. Les Hartzell has been with the team for a while along with Brian Price, Jim Fries, Kyle Wharton and Amanda Price.
“We have seriously been looking for a crew chief the last couple of seasons without success,” said Willman.
The biggest complaint that he has with racing at Grandview, and it is not really a complaint, is being a top dog makes you have to start in the rear positions in qualifying heats and with the large number of Modifieds showing up at Grandview qualifying can be tough. In 2010 the E-Z Release team qualified for all the events and there were 59 races on their schedule, not all at Grandview of course.
“Grandview pays well. The track is in great shape,” said Willman. “It is the toughest competition around and the Rogers family takes good care of the racers. That is important.”
Grandview Speedway actually kicks off their season on Saturday, March 26th at 12 noon with a free-to-the-public practice session open to all divisions of racing.
The track, a one-third-mile, banked clay oval, is located at 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, PA, just off Route 100, 10 miles north of Pottstown. For race information check in at www.grandviewspeedway.com or telephone 610.754.7688.