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Chelsea’s Fritz Wilke racing through the pandemic

Courtesy photo. Fritz Wilke.

By Lisa Carolin

After a slow start to 2020 thanks to the pandemic, Chelsea resident and race car driver Fritz Wilke has been keeping himself busy competing in races around the country.

He began the new year competing at the Hoosier Tire Super Tour in Sebring, Florida. Sebring International Raceway is the home of the annual Mobil 1 Sebring 12-Hours race, which has been held at the track since 1950.

“It’s a very bumpy track built on an old World War II airfield where B-17 pilots and bombardiers used to train,” said Wilke, who says the bumps make you drive wide of the racing line, which makes it a real challenge.

Wilke drove a Ford Fiesta. This is how he described the first afternoon’s race:

“The weather was bright and sunny with a strong wind blowing up the back straight.  At the start, I was able to fight my way through several of my rivals to make it up as far as sixth in the early laps before falling back to eighth at the mid-point. Oil on the track from another competitor caused chaos midway through the race as several of my rivals slid sideways on the oil. As I picked off several of my competitors who were struggling, I worked my way up back up into sixth place.  As my rivals recovered, they came back by and moved me back down to eighth at the finish. A solid top 10, but there was definitely a chance for a top five there.”

On Sunday, Wilke says the sticky rubber on the racing line was washed away leaving a green track to race on. He swapped positions with several of the drivers nearly every lap of the 15-lap race.

Wilke ended up with two top ten finishes, seventh on Saturday and sixth on Sunday.

On Feb. 6, he’s headed to Austin, Texas to the Circuit of the Americas. He says the historic track there is a 3.5 mile 20-turn roller coaster and a huge challenge for racers.

In mid-February, he’s headed to the Buttonwillow Raceway in Buttonwillow, Calif.

In between races, Wilke is writing a how-to book about branding in motorsports and doing consulting work for other racers.

Courtesy photo. Race car driver Fritz Wilke in action.
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