By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: LAD Racing Photography
KAUFMAN, Texas — Even though the final points race was washed out, earning a championship at an ultra-competitive track like RPM Speedway is a huge accomplishment. Teams in every class all bring good equipment and strong skills to RPM on Friday nights, yet some drivers manage to rise above.
For 30-year-old second generation racer Tyler Killingsworth, securing the 2021 Factory Stock title was a source of great pride. The son of the late Shane Killingsworth is carrying on his father's tradition of success on the ovals, and doing so in fine fashion.
In 17 starts this season, Killingsworth earned two wins, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. It's the kind of consistency it takes to win titles, and it all came together very nicely for this dedicated race team.
“I've had a lot of good help this year and we have good equipment,” Killingsworth said. “Both are very important if you want to win races and stay consistent. Between strong support, team chemistry and my driving, it just all came together for us. I feel I've matured as a driver, which was a big part of it.
“With these Factory Stock cars, they don't have much power so it's all about momentum. You need to get your car to turn good through the center of the corner. I've got my car figured out to where it will turn good in the middle and still have that strong drive off the corner. At RPM, you need a good setup.”
This is the 18th season of racing for the man who spends his days working as an engineer for a Real Estate and Property Management company based in Plano. And like so many others in north Texas, he credits a now-defunct track as a place he learned the skills he still uses to this day.
“I started out back in a Mini Stock back in 2003,” Killingsworth said. “My grandfather was a mechanic his whole life. He really didn't care for the 4-cylinder cars, and wanted to move me up into something else. His field of knowledge was in the bigger domestic cars.
“So we found an older Limited Modified, and I raced in that class a few years at Thunderbird Raceway in Crandall before it shut down. That's where I learned a ton about the sport, that division was a good training grounds. My Dad raced there in the 1980s and 1990s; folks around here all knew who he was.”
In noble and dedicated fashion, Tyler is striving to continue doing what his father loved most, aside from him. Shane Killingsworth passed away in 2015.
“That's really what I'm doing, is working to carry on his legacy and make him proud. I sure hope he is.”
As mentioned earlier, the level of competition at RPM is easily some of the stiffest you'll see in Texas.
“I feel pretty strongly that we have some of best drivers in Texas at RPM Speedway,” Killingsworth said. “If you can compete with guys like Chris Davis, who I feel is one of the best, you've done a good job. And then you have Mr. Walter Hamilton, who's leading national points and one of the best there is.
“If you are outrunning guys like Chris and Walter, you're really doing something. And we raced at Superbowl this year, as well. The competition there is pretty intense. You have to get up on the rim. My brother, Bryce Pritchett, ran at Heart O' Texas once this year and I finished third. It's been amazing.”
What is notable about Killingsworth's incredible season is the car in which he earned that crown. It's not one of those big-buck chassis from Two-Five, Outlaw, or any other major recognizable brand.
“This is a home-built chassis that Ricky Swartz built in 2018 or 2019,” Killingsworth explained. “It's a really nice car that was built with great craftsmanship. It has the best of the best components on it, and had only been raced twice when I brought it home. Ricky won in it the first time it ran.”
Along with his raw natural talent behind the wheel, Killingsworth also has several good folks working hard behind the scenes to ensure his racing program stays on-track and successful.
“Billy Killingsworth with BKs Rod Shop, My stepdad, Rusty and Mom with Daddy Rabbit Racing, Lee McCullough with In-Law Fabrication and Bryce Pritchett. I can't thank them enough for all they do to support my efforts.
“I also need to thank my valued sponsors, including Gregory Muirhead at Muirhead Motorsports; Lenamond’s Auto Supply, Precision Performance, and Friesen Performance for the awesome Crate Motor. I couldn't do this or get such great results without them all. I'm a blessed man.”
With that 2021 pints title in his resume, Killingsworth has his sights set on an upcoming special event.
“We're getting ready for that big two-day deal on Labor Day weekend, the Ronny Sigman Memorial and the Brian Mize Memorial. They's put together a huge payout that extends deep into the field, so we'ere hoping to go there and win one of them. Ronny and Brian were larger-than-life around here.
“It's been just a dream season really, to earn a pair of wins and the points crown. We'll get this thing ready for the big weekend now and try to add a little more hardware. The hard work is paying off.”