Veteran racer Bill Skillman turned some heads during his final testing run in his 2014 Ford Cobra Jet Jan. 24 at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park.
Skillman clocked a 7.81-second elapsed time at 175 mph.
“Kurt Johnson does the best job in the world there prepping the track,” said Skillman, who made 15 runs during the test session Jan. 22-24. “The weather was nice there this time of year. It’s going to be hard to go that fast anywhere else, but we have a fast Hot Rod. We battled a lot of issues while we were there, but we were able to get them figured out. We just started with this car last year and ran it a little bit and we were too busy with the Pro Stock stuff and working on the Comp cars to ever really ever work on this car. This winter is the first time that we really had a game plan and worked on all the different aspects to get it to go from Point A to Point B.”
Skillman’s blistering-quick lap had some tense moments.
“It was a little slick out the other end,” he said. “The rear tires were locked up and it was a handful. You have a big, 3,550-pound car, and it is a lot of car to be stopping. It was great (to break the 7-second barrier). I have to give a lot of credit to my crew chief Tomi Laine and Dave and Anthony and Joey who work for us and Holbrook who built us a great motor. We have the new blower that is a lot more efficient and that helps. Ford was way, way behind with cubic inches and they gave us a few more cubic inches and that’s going to even the playing field.”
Skillman said he and his son, Drew will compete fulltime in the Factory Stock Showdown class in 2019. Drew Skillman raced fulltime in NHRA’s Pro Stock ranks from 2015-2018.
“We have two new Cobra Jets coming and we are just going to build one of them for right now,” Bill said. “We’re going to pick up Drew’s car somewhere around the fourth of February. We are going to get the thing incomplete and bring it back and start wiring it and build the motor and get the plumbing and all that stuff done and then go back and pick the rear-end and stuff up.”
Bill said he expects Drew’s new car to be ready for the season-opening Factory Showdown Series race at the Gatornationals in Gainesville (Fla.), March 14-17. Bill will compete in his 2014 Cobra Jet at the Gators.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with the second new (Cobra Jet),” Bill said. “I may sell the car. I’m just not sure.”
As for Drew, he’s completely out of the Pro Stock scene. He finished third in the points standings a year ago behind Tanner Gray and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
“I sold all my stuff except for my trailer and my race car,” Skillman said.
The Factory Showdown Series will have eight events in 2019 – Gainesville, Fla.; Four-Wide Nationals (April 26-28) Charlotte, N.C.; (Richmond) Virginia NHRA Nationals, May 17-19; Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan., (June 7-9); Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio, (June 20-23); U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis (Aug. 28-Sept. 2); AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis, (Sept. 27-29) and AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas, (Oct. 17-20).
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019