Jacksonville native hits the big time

Buddy Hull acquires a Top Fuel operation

by Eric A Thomas

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Area drag racing enthusiasts watched in 2021 as a Jacksonville native made his professional national debut in Atlanta as a member of the Terry Haddock racing team — and now that local has taken another step in his racing career.

Finishing No. 14 in point standings in the Top Fuel category during his rookie year, Buddy Hull showed fans of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) that he was ready to take on the big dogs. “I have been involved in drag racing my entire life through my family,” stated Hull.

“My uncle, Reggie, started racing in the late ‘50s and he got my father, John, and my uncle, Dick, involved.” Through his years of experience and knowledge, Buddy Hull became an owner and driver himself, racing in a B-Fuel Altered starting in September 2008, and switching to Top Fuel in 2021. This year, Hull has purchased Tim Wilkerson’s Top Fuel operation; Wilkerson is a veteran of the drag racing sport and a longtime friend. The friendship between the two men spans over three decades. They both grew up in central Illinois and at a young age Hull went drag racing with Wilkerson’s team.

Not only has Hull purchased Wilkerson’s operation Top Fuel, but he has also made an agreement with him. “Even though I will be behind the wheel, he will be offering his expertise in the sport,” Hull remarked. Wilkerson is one of the few who has been a team owner, crew chief and driver.

Continued Hull, “If I built a good team of guys to work on the dragster, he would help me with tune up.” Hull added that Wilkerson is known for being one of the best tuners in the sport. In a recent edition of “Drag Illustrated,” a magazine covering the sport, Wilkerson talked about selling the operation to Hull. In doing so, he hopes to get more quality drivers and teams into the sport.

Currently, NHRA is the governing body and sets the rules for drag racing across the United States and Canada. The organization has been around for 70 years and has over 40,000 drivers on its rosters. The four professional categories are Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Top Fuel, Hull’s category, is the top class in the sport. Racers can go from 0-300 mph in under four seconds. Hull’s top speed has been clocked at 308 mph.

A full NHRA season includes 24 races and Hull plans to do 7 to 8 races this year. Home base for Hull is Dallas. He will be competing under the banner of “Buddy Hull Racing,” with primary sponsorships from his business, Vertex Roofing and General Contractors, as well as DFW RV Center, Lucky’s Diesel Shop and 1st Class Graphics. Right now, Hull is planning on participating in the PRO Nitro Spring Training event, which will lead to the season opening event in Pomona. Some of the other events he is considering will be in Houston; Topeka, Kansas; Indianapolis; St. Louis; Dallas and possibly Las Vegas. To follow Buddy Hull Racing on social media, search @BuddyHull323TF on Twitter or Instagram or “Buddy Hull Racing” on Facebook.

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