By Lisa Carolin
Chelsea resident Fritz Wilke has been racing sports cars or go-karts or whatever he was able to drive for most of his life.
On Oct. 10, he’ll be competing at the B-Spec Class at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) driving his Ford Fiesta.
Wilke is the current lap record holder at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI and finished second in the Northeastern Conference this year with three wins, two seconds, two thirds and a fifth.
He and his wife moved to Chelsea 15 years ago as a halfway point when she worked at Kellogg’s and he worked in the Ford Motor Company’s Marketing Leadership Program.
Wilke left Ford last year to spend more time in the racing world.
“I am now doing consulting work for other racers, helping them brand themselves and their teams,” said Wilke. “I am also about halfway through writing a how-to book about branding in motorsports focused on helping club level teams understand the power of branding and the positive impact it can have on increasing partnerships in the sport.”
Wilke’s fascination with racing started when he was a child in Munster, Indiana, watching his dad work on his car and listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio. When his dad took him to a friend’s race shop, and Wilke had the chance to put his hands on the steering wheels of some race cars, he knew what he wanted to do.
“I was the kid at the arcades who went straight to the go-karts,” said Wilke. “I couldn’t get enough. I wanted a real racing go-kart, but it was out of reach, so I played on the arcade karts and taught myself how to drive.”
A few years later, his dad took him to the Indianapolis 500, and that was the first of many times Wilke had the chance to attend the race. He also had the chance to crew for a stock car team while he was in middle and high school.
Wilke says the pandemic caused the first half of the SCCA’s season to be cancelled in 2020. Since June, they’ve been racing, and spectators are only allowed to attend races in certain parts of the country.
As far as his future in sports car racing goes, Wilke says, “I love to compete and I have been lucky enough to have had a lot of success these past few years. We have a great team and we have fun pursuing our dream.”
He said, “We want to race at iconic tracks across the country and win races and championships. Eventually, I hope to bring my 9-year- old son Will onto the team and pass the torch so to speak. Will races go-karts at East Lansing Kart Track. It has been great fun to help him learn, do well and develop a love of this sport.”
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