Josh Williams is not going to give up on his dream of being the best old school NASCAR racer. The Floridian wears a mullet and a beard that makes him look like a 20th-century race car driver, but in fact he’s an avid 29-year-old.
“I call them helmet carriers, seat warmers, or steering wheel carriers,” Williams said of old-school drivers. “There aren’t a lot of guys left who can build a car from the ground up, who can pull it down, who can adjust the shock steering and there aren’t a lot of guys out there like that.
“I want to be the old school guy who brings it back. That’s my goal. To see people identify with it and label me as an old school guy, that’s what I’m looking for. That’s how I am, how I’ve always been and I’m not going to change.”
Williams thought he was going to make it big in the 2022 season when he joined BJ McLeod Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The move enabled him to make his Cup Series debut for McLeod co-owner Matt Tifft’s team, Live Fast Motorsports, at Bristol dirt track with a 25th-place finish.
However, he failed to qualify for three of the first eight events of the year, a heavy blow for a driver with limited finances. McLeod eventually maneuvered the Williams owner’s points to solidify his place in the races going forward and stayed with the team through the first 23 events. He ended up returning to DGM Racing run by Mario Josselin, an organization where he spent most of his young career. In 2020, Williams scored six top-10s with DGM and finished 15th in the championship standings.
“In this day and age, it’s very difficult because the Xfinity Chain is riddled with so much funding,” Williams said. “It’s a difficult situation because, even if you had the funding, somebody beat you. We’re building our brand and growing our partners.
“I think next year we’re going to focus on having better equipment. We need to be more prepared and bring really good cars to the racetrack. We put in 100% effort in Phoenix and drove inside the top 10, but had bad pit stops at the end and finished We finished 15th. That’s a really good day for us, and you’ll see more of that from us next year.”
Williams finished the year on a strong note with a 15th-place finish at Phoenix. He also ran two other Cup Series events for Live Fast Motorsports. He had another 25th-place finish at the Indianapolis road course and finished 31st at the Charlotte Roval.
While Williams could take his limited funding to a bigger team to run fewer races but in top-tier equipment, he’s focused on growing with the opportunities he currently has.
He explained that the year of learning is a year he wants to forget.
Of 2022, Williams said: “I would say it’s been a great learning experience. I’ve learned a lot of things about myself. You have to keep in mind that everyone has good years and everyone has bad years. I’m going to mark this as a rough one and forget it I’m focused on next year and really trying to be strong, run to the front and get some successful finishes.”
One bright side of Williams’ year, however, is that he was nominated for Comcast Community Champion of the Year for his years of giving back to kids. He has visited more than 150 hospitals in person and on Zoom during the pandemic. Through these visits, he met countless children, as well as their families, to show his support.
As Williams’ work with children began to expand, he enlisted Omni Labs to use their telepresence robots, giving some children the opportunity to experience garage rides on the track virtually from their hospital beds. This year, he forged a relationship with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, which is building indoor radio and television studios in children’s hospitals across the country to augment the experiences of patients who can’t make the trek to the track.
If he wins the honor, which he will announce at the end of November, Williams said, “I’ll probably cry a little bit.” “I’m a jerk. It’s so special, not only to me but to the Seacrest Foundation. We’ve been able to work together and visit all these places. To give back to them on a higher level, that’s amazing.”
While Williams is focused on his future, the goal is to showcase his talent and get back to his numbers for 2020. He’s using the work ethic he’s had since his days in the ARCA Menards series, when he competed and worked on cars for his family-owned team.
Although Williams has moved up the world rankings, one thing has not changed and that is his passion for working on his own cars. He hasn’t announced his plans for 2023, but he expects to return to the Xfinity Series.