IMCA regular Shelby Williams on a roll in 2021

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. Photo By: Mike Frieri

BONHAM, Texas — Among the many hard-working IMCA racers in north Texas, one man stands out above his rivals for two main reasons. For one, he runs competitively in two separate classes, both of which happen to be some of the most talent-filled in the entire Deep South region.

This driver also puts up some pretty impressive numbers driving equipment that isn’t quite, shall we say, state-of-the-art. What sets this man apart are his skills at working through traffic, making clean passes and weekly maintenance chores. Turns out, a fast driver in a well-prepared car is the hot ticket.

For 28-year-old Shelby Williams, beating the boys with fat wallets on a regular basis has become a habit. Williams runs both an IMCA Stock Car and an IMCA Sport Mod. In 11 starts this season, he’s earned seven wins and eight top-five finishes. No new, high-end cars, no high-dollar, high-tech motors.

“Here in this area, we race against guys like Dean and Jeffrey Abbey all the time,” Williams said. “They are really good drivers, with top-notch equipment and resources behind them. It makes a guy like me have to work a little harder. I don’t have the money to buy new tires very often.

“So I work during the week to ensure the cars are both ready to go when we unload. Then I can focus on driving them, evaluating track conditions and going for the win. It’s how it works for this team.”

In a 15-year career on the ovals, Williams has won more trophies than most racers will earn in a lifetime. He comes from a racing family, and it’s in his blood. That drive and determination has produced some impressive stats.

“In 2009, my Dad bought me a stock car for my 15th birthday,” Williams explained. “We chose Grayson County Speedway, because it was a good place to start. I went out there the first night and won. I even won three straight special events during the fall that year. I won $5,000 within a month.

“I wasn’t even old enough to drive, so everything was in my mother’s name. She paid the taxes on my winnings, then told me it would be my name on the paperwork once I turned 16. My second stock car was a Voodoo car; I won 17 out of 23 races one year in it. I also won seven races in the Sport Mod.”

And that wasn’t the only impressive season in resume, by any  means. He can adapt to any track, easily.

“In 2017, I ran every week at Southern Oklahoma Speedway up in Ardmore with both my Stock Car and the Sport Mod,” Williams explained. “I won eight straight the Stock car, four in a row in Sport Mod and both track championships. Of course then, they started saying I couldn’t win anywhere else.

“In 2020, I went to Kennedale to race and was leading the points there. My father ended up winning the title, beating me by two points since I got tossed out on a technical violation after a feature victory. That led us to this year, where the goal is to travel around and not be locked in to one particular track.”

Williams is another one of those who tells it like it is when describing the level of competition he faces at tracks around north Texas. He isn’t knocking the talent in other parts of the state, by any means.

“I would have to say that Kennedale has the toughest competition in both the Stock cars and Sport Mods,” he said. “It’s close to the greater Dallas Metro area, so all of those guys make good money and have good equipment. They draw big cars counts in both classes, and lots of them are fast.”

Now here’s where it gets interesting, when you see what this multi-time feature winner pilots for equipment. There are rare drivers who can take an older car and put it in Victory Lane, at any track.

“My IMCA Stock Car is a 2006 model,” Williams explained. “We tore it apart and did some repairs and updates in 2015, but it’s still six-year-old technology. We bent it up real bad last year, but managed to get it straightened out enough to where it steers pretty good. It’s still that way right now, in fact.

“I have a brand new car being built, but I don’t want to tear this one apart until the new one is ready to race. We took this one to 82 Speedway last weekend to run in what they call Texas Stock. My Dad and I both went; he changed motors and put on good tires, while I just left it as an IMCA car and won.”

Winning in a division where he claims as long as you have four tires and a two-barrel, you’re legal. Just another night for this skilled driver with fire in his eyes.

“This old car still does its job, it’s just a little heavier than the new ones,” Williams added. “In 2017 when I won all those races, I was using a Dynamic car from a local builder in this area. I ended up trading that old Voodoo car I had for an S&S car another local builder. It’s a 2018 model I use now.”

Along with his amazing skills at working through traffic, sizing up each car and making a clean pass, Williams also has some key people and companies behind the scenes that make his program successful.

“I need to thank Team Nine Designs, Kingpin Racing Development, Auto Tech, Kw Fabrication, Jeff Reynolds Electric, Stealth Oilwell Services, Everclear Auto Glass, Buckmeyer Motorsports, Big Iron, Stanford Trucking, Bonham Quick Lube, Lk Machine and Creese Epoxy.

“I also want to thank Morris Farms, Elite Glass, North Texas Safari Park, Steve O Motorsports, Nikoles Country Store, Paul Hodge Construction, 41 Shocks (Stock Car); Swenson Shocks (Sport Mod); Tru Race Wheels, Team Richardson, Tim Petty & Associates, Decker Racing, Apache Auto Salvage, Jimmy Freeman, Oil Sox, Family Lawn Care, and Lugnut Racing.   

“I’d also like to mention that I’m racing in memory of Tony Hernandez and Blake Halk.”

As the busy summer season arrives and race teams hit full throttle, Williams has his plans in place.

“In 2017 and again last year we did that whole points chasing thing,” he concluded. “That isn’t always fun, so this year we’re enjoying just going to different places and see how we stack up. We’re really just after feature wins in 2021. If we can take down a few more checkered flags, we’ll be pretty happy.”