Carson City's J.R. Williams has been honored with the United States Auto Club's prestigious Walt Johnson Memorial Achievement Award.
The 70-year-old Williams races for Carson City's J & J Racing Associates. The annual award is presented to the driveer who does the most to promote midget auto racing and who best represents the character of USAC.
"This means a lot to me," Williams said. "Because it is awarded by a vote of the USAC officials who know all the competitors."
Williams is one of the oldest professional racecar drivers in the country today. "There are probably less than two dozen drivers still competing at my age and only a handful of us compete with a traveling group," Williams said.
"During the presentation ceremonies some of the facts that were brought up was that I do all of my own work on the car, including towing the car over 3,000 miles each year and that I competed in every race they ran last year. It's a long season that begins in February and continues through the annual "Turkey Night" race that's held on Thanksgiving night.
"Most of the weekends I leave the house on Friday morning and don't return until Sunday night, except for a few shows that are closer to home such as Stockton. It would be nice if we were able to run a few here at home, but such is not the case. The officials also pointed out that win or loser I always seem to be sporting a smile. I guess that's because at my age it takes too much effort to frown and I have to conserve my energy."
Williams said he enjoys competing with the young people he races against. Most of then are in their late teens or early 20s.
"They are a lot of fun to race against," Williams said. "Unlike the ugly character of today's youth that jumps out of the TV sets, these young people better represent their generation.
"They are friendly and respectful and all seem to have their heads screwed on straight. Once on the track, however, there are no holds barred and they are really tough competitors. They keep me young."
When asked how long he'll continue competing in such high-stress competition, Williams said that he'll do it as long as it's fun, as long as he remains competitive and as long as the Good Lord gives him the strength and energy to keep doing it.
"My car number is 74," he said. "So I'd at least like to go on until my age reaches the car number.
"It would be a lot easier if I could come up with a major sponsor to help with the expenses. Right now Carson Dodge Chrysler, Truck Stop Accessories and Les Schwab are big helps, but I would love to form an additional partnership with a casino or energy drink company."