Bob Wilber grew up aspiring to follow in his father’s baseball footsteps, and while he was able to secure a full college scholarship and later spend parts of six years in professional ball, as a player, coach, and scout, his mother’s writing, communications, and public relations skills were what eventually defined his career. After a successful and adventurous sports-marketing trek through the sports-apparel business, agency work, and professional indoor soccer, he saw his first drag race as he closed in on his 40th birthday. Little did he know that he’d go on to spend 20 consecutive years as a team manager and PR representative for Del Worsham and then Tim Wilkerson, two of the most popular Funny Car drivers on the NHRA tour. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Bob ended his drag racing run in order to take on a longtime assignment. He is currently writing his autobiography, entitled “Bats, Balls, and Burnouts” which is due for publication late in 2016.
The Kickstarter campaign is over, and I actually miss the stress and the thrill of it. Our final numbers were incredible, as the alert chime started to pull me back to the computer hour after hour. In the end, we attracted 99 backers and 112% of the goal, and to me both of those numbers are beyond heartwarming. They’re stunning and mind-boggling. And as for coming up one short of 100 backers, I posted a tweet on that by saying “Final count 99 backers. If 99 was a good enough number for Wayne Gretzky, it’s good enough for me.” It’s actually more than good enough for me.
Six and a half weeks ago, on December 14 (I had to look that up) I launched my Kickstarter campaign to see if it would be possible to cover a portion of the hard costs that come with self-publishing. And, I hadn’t even started officially writing “Bats, Balls, and Burnouts” yet at the time. The first hurdle, for me, was getting over my trepidation about even doing a crowdfunding deal. Once I got past that by realizing that while my wife Barbara is the most amazing and supportive person in the world, by allowing me to walk away from my 20-year NHRA career to take on the challenge of writing my book, she did not necessarily sign up for me to cease having any income while also spending years worth of savings to get the thing printed. The next question was “How much can we raise?”
I was actually not born to run. As I’ve been writing about lately in my book “Bats, Balls, and Burnouts” I grew up as a pretty sickly kid, to the point where the fact I actually did grow up (and grow out of a bunch of maladies) was kind of surprising, especially in retrospect. I guess you could say I was born to sniffle, wheeze, hack, and cough. What a calling!
So I’m a writer now. I was before, of course, but now it’s basically all I’m doing and I’m learning as I go. The most important thing I’ve learned is that there is indeed a process and it needs to be followed.
On Monday morning I got up and went to work. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years as a Team Manager and PR Rep in the world on NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing, but this particular Monday was different. It even felt different. It was the start of a new week at the start of a new year, and for me it was the start of a new career. Now, I’m a writer.