By Mary Lendzion
After driving to championships in NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center and Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Chevrolet Performance Stock in 2017 and 2018, Jesse Wilson was determined to do it again in 2019.
In his father-in-law Kelly Pierce’s Camaro flying Fuelab banners, he began by leading qualifying with a 10.11 and landing in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 10.16 against Scott Brown at the series’ first event of the year, the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
He backed that up by leading qualifying again, this time with a 10.11, and winning again, this time with a 10.24, against Haley Burkhammer at the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway.
Wilson went on to qualify in the second spot with a 10.18 and used a .000 reaction time paired with a 10.23 to win, despite Bukhammer’s quicker 10.19, at the Inaugural Comp Cams NMCA Memphis Homecoming featuring the 13th Annual Chevrolet Performance LSX Shootout in May at Memphis International Raceway, and he set the pace in qualifying with a 10.19 and finished as the runner-up with a 10.32 against Burkhammer at the 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in July at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois.
“Honestly, it was pretty awesome to cut that .000 in the final round of eliminations in Memphis,” said Wilson. “That helped me win that race, and that’s one of the neat things about racing. There’s more than one way to win.”
Seeing even more seat time than usual, Wilson led qualifying with a 10.13 and landed a 10.21 against Burkhammer to head back to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle at the 18th Annual NMCA All-American Nationals in August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, where he also went some rounds, in his wife and fellow racer Jenna Pierce Wilson’s COPO Camaro clone, in the 50th Anniversary COPO Camaro Shootout presented by COPO Parts Direct.
The following month, the Indiana-based driver whose hot rod is powered by a DR525 engine and Turbo 400 by RPM Transmissions, and who has help with chassis set-up from Andy Smith of Pro Tree Race Cars, qualified in the second spot with a 10.21 and made it to the semifinal before exiting with a 10.24 against Scott Brown at the final event on this year’s NMCA tour, the 18th Annual NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in September at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana.
With that, he accomplished what he had set out to accomplish, and earned the NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center championship, as well as the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Chevrolet Performance Stock championship, for the third year in a row.
“We chase thousandths of a second to get the most that we can out of this car with a crate engine, and when it wasn’t running the way we were accustomed to it running pretty much all season long, we were chasing even harder,” said Wilson, who works at RPM Transmissions. “I was talking about it with Jeremy Jones, whom we call Scarecrow because he points me in the direction I need to go, and we finally figured it out by the last race of the season. I’m very fortunate that Kelly (Pierce) lets me drive his car, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished with it.”
Wilson will be lauded at the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs Awards Ceremony presented by Aerospace Components, Dec. 13 at the Indiana Convention Center.
(Please watch for stories on all NMCA champions to be posted on the NMCA and Race Pages Digital websites and in Fastest Street Car in the days to come.