You never forget how and you only get better...... started racing at age 8,mini bikes...by the time he was 15, he was a hired gun for Team Kawasaki...at 16 he was racing street stocks at Ascot Park in Southern California and he was well on his way to establishing himself as a force to be dealt with no matter what he was piloting.
His name is Butch Gilliland. And that is just the start of the story...He ran at Manzy, Saugus and Corona as well as many other local short tracks in the Southern California and Arizona areas. He was racing Grand American Modifieds as well as the Rocketship Western Late Models.
His true love of the sport compelled him to try and get to the next level. The only way to afford that was to run the "Enduro Circuit". And that he did!
Gilliland ran enough and was successful enough to be able to put together a NASCAR Winston West Series team in 1995. He also won his first Winston West race in 1995! He went on to record 3 wins in 1996 and 4 wins in 1997 as well as the championship trophy and the "Most Popular Driver award!" The later award even more humbling because it is voted on by the drivers themselves.
Gilliland still wasn't done yet...in 1998 he took the checkered flag 3 more times and in 1999 he added 2 more wins as well as another "Most Popular Driver" award...
During the course of all that winning and racing, Gilliland was hard at work establishing a successful business and family.
His wife of many years, Vlada and his 3 children, David, (YES...Currently racing with the NASCAR Grand National West and the South West Series this weekend at Mesa Marin Raceway), Lisa and Amanda are all vital parts of Gilliland's racing history and success. Lets end this history lesson and jump to Oct.13,2004.... Gilliland will make a rare special appearance this weekend in the RacingWest.com 125 at Mesa Marin. After a 5 year hiatus from racing, Gilliland has partnered with Del Dalrymple (car owner) of Fullerton to field a Late Model built just for this race by Race Car Factory of Irwindale, California.
The team headed up by Gilliland at the wheel, crew chief Ron Hearidge, chief fabricator Mike Companion and a few mystery add-ons did a shake down on the car at Irwindale Speedway a few weeks ago and Gilliland was happy to say,"this car is a rocket!" There were a few other things said but due to the fact that points are now being deducted for not using proper English, I won't quote them here but trust me, It was all good!!!
Gilliland and the crew also wanted to send out a BIG THANK YOU to the people behind the scenes that are helping make all this possible...Anaheim Truck and Auto, Currie Enterprises, D.G.G.R Packaging and Crating, and Vergola Custom Roofs. I did ask Gilliland if we would see the all familiar #38 on his Late Model rocket this weekend and all he would say is "we'll see"...I have a feeling we will see that all so familiar #38 in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon!!
It's not a strange place to Gilliland and he knows how to get there! As our chat ended, I asked Gilliland," What do you do in the off season?" and his reply was....Vlada and I like to travel. We have a plane and like to get away for a few days here and there......Taos, New Mexico, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallerta....that was when I said, "stop"....what time do we leave and how fast does this thing go?" Part 2 of this story will conclude with the weekends events and a play by play editorial of Sat. night and Sunday. If you are lucky enough to be at Mesa Marin this weekend, stop by and shake hands and get an autograph from one of the true California racing legends....Butch Gilliland.