Charles Willis Jr.: U.S. Army Veteran, Gateway's 2016 Motorcycle Champion

February 10, 2017, St. Louis Region – Charles Willis Jr. and six fellow drag racers were honored Saturday as Gateway Motorsports Park's 2016 Dragplex champions. When the 2017 season begins on April 1, Willis Jr. will be set to defend his Super Pro Motorcycle class title.

"This is my first Gateway Motorcycle championship," Willis Jr. said. "My father won it in 2015. It feels really good to finally see your hard work paying off and know that you're going somewhere.

"My father got me started in motorcycle drag racing. When I came back from the military I needed something to do and bikes were it. I had never raced before. I didn't think I'd ever be able to try for a championship but he stayed on me and showed me I could do it."

In fact, the son faced the father at least once during 2016 season eliminations and the kid put dad on the trailer as they say in drag racing.

"I served in the U.S. Army for 12 years. I joined right after 9/11. I saw what was going on. Everybody needs to do their part so I figured I'd do my part. I got out in 2012.

"The first two years of racing were hard. I was constantly losing. Not understanding. Having to constantly go to my father to see how to read a time slip to see what I was doing wrong. After the second year I could figure out what was going on -- how to read the bike, read the time slip. That's when I finally started coming into my own and this year it finally paid off."

Willis Jr. scored seven wins during GMP's 2016 bracket racing series at GMP and also won a few more special events.

"These days I'm retired and I race and build motorcycles. I sell them to my competitors, no problem. If someone needs help and I assist help them, I will gladly share knowledge with them -- because I want to keep the competition stiff," Willis Jr. concluded.

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