Local racer headed to Bristol

Andrew “Mish” Williams of Shawnee will be running his sport mod racer at the Bristol Dirt Nationals being held at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee March 15-20.

SHAWNEE – “I’ll see how good a driver I am,” is how Andrew ‘Mish’ Williams describes his upcoming trip to the Bristol Motor Speedway in northeast Tennessee, where he will be competing in an event being billed as the Bristol Dirt Track Nationals. The speedway, known as “the Home of Big Events,” will be converted to a pristine dirt track.

The dirt track action will take place March 15-20. Mish, his father Jim “Jimbo” Williams, and Steve Blosser of B-Man’s Truck & Auto Repair in Shawnee will be entering a race car in the Sport Mods division. The racing bill states several divisions will be competing for prize money.

“We’ve heard there might be 250 cars in each division,” says Jimbo, acknowledging that the competition will be as steep as the 19-degree banked curves around a racetrack nicknamed the “bullring” and billed as racing’s “fastest half-mile.” He is also quick to name Blosser as the primary reason they have a chance to race on one of America’s iconic speedways.

“There’d be no trip if it wasn’t for Steve,” said Jimbo. Blosser will serve as the crew chief when the racing begins. Mish and his father will be heading for Bristol the week before the race to spend as much time practicing on the track ahead of the official heats that begin Monday, March 15. Blosser will arrive when practice laps end and racing starts.

Mish has had a chance to see the list of the competition for the Sport Mods division. “There will be racers from all over the country,” described Mish. “I saw cars from Alabama, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, and California.”

While Mish has raced at several tracks across the state, most of his experience has been at Midway Speedway near Crooksville. Without collisions on the Bristol track, Mish says oil changes and keeping all the moving parts of his racecar greased and lubricated will be key to staying on the track instead of in the pits.

Currently the race car is in the B-Man’s garage having the final touches added to it. Three major areas that need attention include a new driveshaft, an encapsulated seat, and new tires. The special seat is designed with a wraparound headrest to prevent traumatic head and neck injuries. The cost for this seat crunches the wallet until $700 comes across the finish line at the parts store.

The competition will be a series of heats until the qualifiers race for the championship at the end of the week. Mish expects 20-24 cars will take part in each heat.

“There will be two days of qualifying heat races, and then there will be a last chance qualifier heat on Friday,” explained Jimbo.

For Mish, trying to contain the excitement of racing where NASCAR’s greatest have taken laps is no easy task. Neither will be getting behind the wheel of a racecar with a driver’s compartment that rivals the space a good-sized tacklebox would fill.

Car owner Jimbo Williams, crew chief Steve Blosser, and driver Mish Williams were making minor adjustments to the race car the day they “came to the pits” for this interview. Preparations have been hectic for the trio. Official notification that they had been selected for the Bristol Dirt Track Nationals did not arrive until January. Jimbo had high praise for his friend, the crew chief, who has done so much to prepare the racecar.

“Steve Blosser is the backbone of this team,” Jimbo emphatically stated. “I don’t know how we’ll do, but we’re going to be there. I guarantee that.” Blosser only nodded in silent agreement.

So what does a young man about to race against the toughest field he has ever faced on one of racing’s most famous venues have to say? His answer to that question can be found in the first sentence of this story.

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