Motorsports Spotlight

Wilkins, Owner and Builder of Top Dragster Winner

“Awesomely awesomeness is how I would describe our NHRA weekend at Atlanta Dragway,” commented Sandy Wilkins, Owner and Builder of the winning Top Dragster in the NHRA National Open victory lane, June 29th {2019}.  This was the second race and second final round appearance for the dragster.  Both Wilkins Motorsports cars, Top Dragster (TD) and Top Sportsman (TS), were parked in the winner’s circle.  “Thanks to great driving job by Don Shuford in Michele Wilkins’s TD. Don and I have been good friends for 13 years and it’s the first time he’s ever driven a car that I prepared from start to finish.  This was the WM dragster’s second race and second final. A special congratulations goes out to Don!!”


There are so many reasons this is a tremendously special and satisfying event, but one of the biggest is the RY45 engine in the dragster.

In November of 2016, Wilkins purchased the Miller chassis Top Dragster.  After great consideration of what style of engine to put in the dragster he decided on the RY45.  He located the very first RY45 block casting (RY45 001) which had been retired from a life as dyno test engine and subsequently a dirt late model engine for Scott Blomquist.  Wilkins was part of the team at Roush Yates Engines that designed and built the RY45 engine block.

When the block was retired from competition Wilkins started the quest to reconfigure and machine the engine block into the very first Drag Racing specification engine.  After two years of acquiring the necessary parts and fabricating those parts that were not readily available for Drag Racing, he assembled the 460 cubic inch engine in his home shop in Mt. Ulla, NC.

“So, to say I’m proud of the very first RY45 drag racing win, with and engine design I helped to develop, and an engine we built, in our own car would be a tremendous understatement,” Wilkins continued.

To date the best elapsed time for the RY45 Dragster is a 4.50 @ 154 mph in the 1/8th mile.

At the NHRA National Open series Don Shuford was the driver of the Dragster.  This was the first time that Don has driven a car in Top Dragster competition in 20 years and his first NHRA National Open win.

This was the second race and second final round appearance for the dragster.  Don Shuford drove the car and qualified in the seventh position.  Consistency was the key to winning as the car varied less than .019 seconds throughout the weekend on its way to a best elapsed time of 4.579 at 150 mph in the 1/8th mile.

“But the absolute best part of the weekend was being able to share it with my family, my girls, my life!  The photo of my three girls watching fireworks while waiting to have our winners circle photos taken basically summaries my life,” stated Wilkins.

Thank you all for the opportunity and help to showcase the RY45 to the drag racing community!

I was also able to pick up the win in Top Sportman.

Thank you to all those that helped us over the weekend and all the companies that support our team!

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Upcoming Race Schedule

Date Race Location
Feb, 9th Advance Auto Parts Clash Daytona International Speedway
Feb, 14th NextEra Energy 250 Daytona International Speedway
Feb, 15th NASCAR Racing Experience 300 Daytona International Speedway
Feb, 16th Daytona 500 Daytona International Speedway
Feb, 21st Strat 200 Las Vegas Motor Speedway