By Mary Lendzion
After circling all six of this year’s NMCA events on his calendar, Bill Skillman set his sights on Holley EFI Factory Super Cars.
He knew that the competition was going to be tough, but he was committed to being just as tough in his 2014 Mustang Cobra Jet packing a 327 cubic-inch engine massaged by Holbrook Racing Engines and topped with a Whipple supercharger.
He showed that by qualifying in the second spot with a 7.73 and earning a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 7.82 over Mark Pawuk at the first event of the year, the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
The Indiana-based driver, whose father, Ray Skillman, and son, Drew Skillman, are also racers, then set the pace in qualifying with a 7.78 before being forced to lift in the semifinal with transmission trouble against Paul Roderick at the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway. He set the pace again with a 7.85 before blasting to a 7.84 to runner-up against Geoff Turk at the Inaugural Comp Cams NMCA Memphis Homecoming in May at Memphis International Raceway.
On a roll, he rocketed to another lead in qualifying with a 7.90 and another win with a 7.98 against Terry Munroe at the 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in July at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois. He was quicker with a 7.81 to lead qualifying and exited in the semifinal with a 7.94 against Randy Eakins at the 18th Annual NMCA All-American Nationals in August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio.
“I lost an engine at Norwalk,” said Skillman. “I spit a head gasket and the car got sideways. It was a little crazy, and I was lucky I didn’t crash.”
Shaking that off and showing no signs of slowing down, Skillman, who is also very competitive in NHRA Factory Stock, qualified in the second spot with a 7.88 and won with a 7.95 over Eakins at the final stop 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, which Skillman considers his home track. That accomplishment, along with all of his other accomplishments throughout the race season, helped him earn the 2019 NMCA Holley EFI Factory Super Cars championship.
“We had a few gremlins pop up along the way, but we had a good, consistent race car, and a good year, and we were blessed,” said Skillman, whose very committed crew includes Tomi Laine, Dave Yediny, Anthony Bivens, Joey Gwin and “Turbo” Hasenmayer. “There are a lot of good race cars in the class, and the competition is super-close. Anyone could win at any time.”
Skillman and his fellow champions will be in the spotlight 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.)