Williams Inspires the Next Generation of Racers at the Cook Out Summer Shootout
From the quarter-mile of the Cook Out Summer Shootout to the famed oval on Memorial Day Weekend, NASCAR Xfinity driver Josh Williams knows all too well about the challenges, hard work and determination needed to find success at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Port Charlotte, FL, native began competing in the Cook Out Summer Shootout at eight years old. “I'm 29 years old now and I think I've only missed one year of the shootouts,” said Williams.
Over the past 21 years, Williams has gone from building cars for competitors as a 14-year-old to adding the title of coach to his name, giving him a unique view in the world of motorsports.
“It's fun, I raced here when I was a kid and it’s cool for me to give back a little bit and teach these kids about motorsports and how to work on their own cars and how to do it the right way,” Williams said.
Williams, who drives the No. 92 DGM Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, spends his Tuesdays every summer at Charlotte Motor Speedway assisting and mentoring the future of motorsports. “I think it gives them a little perspective of ‘hey that man finished eighth last weekend and he’s out here helping all of us’," said Williams. “I feel like to them it gives them someone to look up to.”
“I don’t know how he does all that he does,” said 53-year-old Old Armor Beer Co. Masters Driver Dean Bonessi. “It takes so much time to do what he does as an Xfinity driver and then to come in here and give back to the community. He gives back a lot so it’s been awesome to be associated with him and see how kids look up to him.”
Williams has become a mentor in the garage, someone many recognize as a person who helps drivers grow in the sport. The leadership he brings is “amazing, he really helps a lot with the car,” said eight-year-old Beginner Bandolero driver Gerald White III. To Williams, being a mentor for developing racers is not only important for the future of motorsports, but for him personally as well.
“We were connected with Josh (through Bubba Wallace’s dad) and he (Williams) has taught me about everything around here and about the sport,” 12-year-old Bandolero Bandits driver Laquan McCoy said. “He’s a really good guy. He got me all into the sport and I can’t thank him enough.”
“For him to take time out of his schedule to come help some little fish in the pond like me, just try and keep going, that means a lot,” stated 18-year-old Cameron Bolin who races in the Boston Reid & Co Pro division. “He's helped me right along and the way he just treats everybody exactly the same means a lot.”
Treating everyone with the same respect is something Williams instills in his racers as he said “there is more to racing than just going fast.”
“Be nice to everybody. You don’t know who you’re going to meet,” Williams tells his drivers. “It could be the next person that’s gonna help you get to the next level.”
It’s also important for Williams to help those who might not have as much funding as others. “This sport is super tough. If you don't have money it makes it even harder and I know that firsthand,” Williams said.
“He’s honestly one of my mentors in this sport. It’s not just racing,” former Cook Out Summer Shootout and current Xfinity driver Brad Perez said about his connection with Josh. “He’s one of the few people that I’ve met where regardless of money or where you come from, he’s the type of person that just wants to support you because this is what you want to do.”
Amongst Williams’ 2023 group of competitors, his racers have become familiar with victory lane this season. Through nine rounds of this year's Cook Out Summer Shootout, from Beginner Bandos to Boston & Reid Co. Pro, his drivers have been first to the checkered flag eight times.
“I tell everyone it's like qualifying for the Daytona 500 every single week,” Williams said. “You really got to be good here, It means a lot to me.”
Williams is leaving his mark at the Cookout Summer Shootout. “They all have their favorite drivers, but there's not a lot of drivers that take time to help the younger generation of drivers. I enjoy doing that and I like seeing their success,” Williams said.
“I needed help,” said Bonessi. “I was trying to do it on my own and I was struggling and about a year ago somebody said I should talk to Josh Williams. He’s really made a difference in everything I’ve done.”
“He’s kind of like a friend, family, and also like a coach,” added McCoy.
Williams' love for racing and passion for motorsports is what keeps him coming back each summer to motivate younger drivers. In Josh Williams, they see it is possible to race your way from the Cook Out Summer Shootout to a NASCAR National series, just as he’s done.
NEXT UP: Championship Night presented by the NASCAR Hall of Fame takes place on Tuesday, August 1, with a plethora of entertainment for fans to put a bow on the Cook Out Summer Shootout season. In addition to feature races across seven divisions that will determine summer supremacy, fans will be treated to appearances by Trackhouse Racing NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain, school bus racing with Trackhouse Racing team members behind the wheels, a Bandolero and Legends Car driver autograph session and fireworks to complete the 30th Summer Shootout season.
TICKETS: Adult tickets are just $10; kids 12 and under get in FREE. For tickets, schedules and more details about all the happenings at Charlotte Motor Speedway, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.
KEEP TRACK: Follow all the thrilling Cook Out Summer Shootout action using the hashtag #CookOutSSO. Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.