After winning his first midget race in many years at Petaluma on August 13th, 73-year-old J.R. Williams of Carson City did it again, winning at Marysville, Calif., this past weekend.
To say that these two back-to-back wins made him feel 20 years younger is an understatement.
"Marysville is by far the roughest race track I have ever driven on," Wlliams said. "It was more like driving across a freshly plowed field than racing on a dirt track.
"The track was extremely rough. For some reason, none of the promoters over there have ever been able to keep the track from breaking up. In the heat race, the sun was setting at the end of the backstretch, making it almost impossible to see ahead. There was no way that I could see where turn three began.
"The young man who started alongside me got the hole shot and pulled away at the start. I missed my mark entering turn three and went a little high, allowing one of the younger drivers to get under me. Although he pulled away coming out of the corner, I was able to close on him entering turn one, but by then the track was so rough that I decided that I wasn't having any fun out there, so I pulled off.
"I told Rick Young, who had put the whole deal together, that I would only run a few laps of the main event to help him show a good car count, but that I would probably end up pulling off way before the main ended as I wasn't having fun out there."
Williams walked around the track during intermission, and it looked as though it was getting better as time went on. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for it to really smooth itself over.
"They started me on the pole for the main event," Williams said. "But that was their mistake."
On the parade laps prior to the start, Williams appraised the track and thought it was better in turns one and two, but turn four was unbelievably bad.
"There were very deep ruts both on the inside and outside of turn four," he said. "And trying to stay between the worst of the ruts was like trying to thread a needle while sitting on a massage chair."
Williams jumped into the lead at the start.
"I thought I'd keep going until someone passed me," he said, laughing, "but nobody did.
"A few times I missed my mark in turn four and the car bounced so high I had to get off the throttle so as not to break a rear axle when I landed again. About halfway through the race one of the young men behind me spun out in turn one and the yellow flag laps that followed gave me a short breather as I was really worn out about then."
After the win he remembered that Young had special checkered flags printed up for the winner to carry around on a victory lap.
"When I stopped on the front stretch to take the flag, I had a hard time taking it off the flagman," he said. "My hands were cramped from grabbing the wheel so tightly.
"Nothing was said about trophies during the driver's meeting, and I was surprised when one of the staff personnel came into my trailer as I was changing into my street clothes, carrying a trophy for me. He told me that it was only made of plastic, but I told him as far as I was concerned it was solid 24-karat gold."
Wiliams' next race will be on Saturday at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City.
"I'd sure like to make it three in a row," Williams said. "RMR is my favorite track, it's big and fast, and I've been doing better and better there every time I go. It's a 3/8-mile high banked paved track, and one of the fastest drivers out there gave me some set-up secrets that I'm going to try when I get out there. One thing's for sure, my friends at Carson Dodge, Les Schwab and Carson Cleaners who have been sponsoring me are really going to be thrilled when they find out about this latest success. I've been so busy working on the cars the past few days that I haven't had time to even call them."