Hello, Before I get started, I would like to thank you and Let's Race Magazine for giving racers this opportunity. It means a lot to me, and all drivers, to see people interested in our sport and trying to help. Without the support of our fans and sponsors, many racers, including myself, would not be able to compete at the level that we do.
I am Derrick Hilliker. I am 25 years old, from Midland, MI. In 2014, I graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I worked for a couple of years at Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles at their proving grounds in Chelsea, MI before moving back home to Midland. I now work in research and development for The Savant Group, an oil testing instrument manufacturer.
2018 will mark my fourth full year in racing, all of which have been in the Dirt Late Model class. Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan and Crystal Motor Speedway in Crystal are the two tracks that I call home. My dad, David, my Uncle Steven, my brother in-law, Ryan Lanphierd and I all race side by side.
We have a unique dynamic because of this and while we are always trying to beat one another, no one is ever too busy to help on someone else's car. We occasionally venture out to other tracks just for a change of pace. At the end of 2016, we went down to Eldora for the Fall Nationals and that was an experience I will never forget. We weren't the most competitive on that weekend, but the experience was well worth the 5 hour trip.
I've been running decently at my home tracks, but there will always be room for improvement. 2015 was my rookie year, in which I finished 5th in points and missed Rookie of the Year by 10 points. In 2016, we came out strong early and led points through mid-season. A couple rough nights bumped us down to 2nd at the end of the year, but it was exciting and we had a shot all the way to final checkered. Unfortunately, 2017 was riddled with mechanical failures that led to a backup engine and a new rear end. However, I feel that I learned a fair amount about the car and even myself as a driver.
While I'm still chasing my first Late Model win, we've been able to pick up a couple wins in the Winged Late Models, as well as grabbing the all-time track record at Tri-City. Those wing cars are the most exciting and thrilling thing I have ever driven. They're starting to die off, with less and less drivers boarding up, but I really hope we can keep the special going. It always has been popular with the fans.
My dad and I attended the RaceWise Racing School by Mark Bush in Jan 2018. We both picked up a few ideas and spent the entire drive home talking about changes and things we could do to the cars to make them better.
I can't thank my crew, family, and sponsors enough for all of their support throughout the last 3 years. I know there's no way I would be where I am without their support and encouragement. There may only be one driver, but racing truly is a team sport.
Coming into 2018, I think we're in better shape than ever and I'm very enthusiastic to get back on the track. Thank you again for your time and the opportunity that you've given us.