By John Wilson
Chief Lender, Executive Vice President
Tim Wilkerson was in Charlotte, North Carolina, competing in a national drag race when his motor coach broke down.
He immediately called up his commercial lender at Illinois National Bank, John Maxfield, who quickly computed the numbers on a loan for a new motor coach – and with very little hassle, Wilkerson’s team was back on track.
Wilkerson, owner of Wilkerson’s Service Center in Springfield, divides his time between his repair center and professional funny car racing, and is quick to point to his long-time relationship with Maxfield and INB as one of the driving forces of his business success.
“Being able to call John with any problems really makes running my business while traveling much easier,” he said.
Knowing that INB has his back allows Wilkerson to concentrate on what he loves, setting his sights on the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Funny Car Championship.
Wilkerson first began racing sportsman cars at the local level, but in 1996, he decided to give professional funny car racing a try. Thanks to loyal support received, like his current sponsor Levi, Ray & Shoup, his career elevated to the level it is today.
Funny car racing brings 50,000 screaming fans to cheer on two competing cars, which race 1,000 feet – and by the end of that stretch, speeds reach up to 320 miles per hour. There are 24 races each year, culminating in the final championship.
Wilkerson came close to winning the title in 2008 – falling behind Cruz Pedregon in the final race of the season – and today, he is gearing up for another chance. He is currently listed in the top 10 for most NHRA funny car wins.
Wilkerson’s passion for the auto industry began when he was young, and starting in 1982, he opened five gas stations in five years. Eventually his business morphed to the single facility on Stevenson Drive that he constructed several years ago.
Wilkerson says that he has always been impressed by INB’s operations in the community throughout the years.
“Being local is important to me; I don’t want to have to deal with a branch somewhere in New York,” he said. “I have to have a local bank I can trust.”
Maxfield, NMLS# 662895, not only runs numbers and lends money to Wilkerson, but he supports Wilkerson’s racing endeavors as well, attending events to cheer him on.
“He’s not only a banking relationship now; he’s become a friend and now a racing fan,” Wilkerson smiled. “I started with this relationship with INB, and I won’t go anywhere else.”