Williams is a diamond in the rough just waiting for the rightopportunity. As a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series,driver from Garden City, Georgia, he may very well be the next NASCARsuperstar.
Williams, 27, is doing all the right things with his racing career, aswas evident this May at Lowe's Motor Speedway when he was walkingaround, shaking hands, and handing out his racing resume to the likes ofRichard Childress and Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs.
"I just wanted the chance to introduce myself to those guys and let themknow that I would love to have the chance to drive for them one day,"Williams says. "It was a good chance for them to actually see me inperson and put a name with a face. Plus, it was neat to be able to handthem my resume instead of giving it to somebody underneath them and theynever see it at all."
Williams got his racing career started on dirt in 1996 at Oglethorpe(Georgia) Speedway, and he also competed in Legends Cars, Late Models,and the now-defunct NASCAR Goody's Dash Series before moving up to theSoutheast Series on a full-time basis in 2002. He picked up his firstcareer Southeast Series win last year at South Boston (Virginia)Speedway and is in championship contention this year.
Williams is simply hoping and waiting for that phone call from one ofthe top NASCAR teams.
"Getting the chance to prove myself at the next level is something I'vereally worked hard for," Williams says. "Getting that phone call and thechance to move up would really be huge for me, and it would let me knowthat all my hard work has finally paid off." --J.M.
When some kids are watching the latest edition of SpongeBob SquarePants, other kids have a different game in mind. Boat, of Phoenix,Arizona, has been actively involved in racing as a driver from the ageof 5. He started out in quarter midgets with the goal of winning, notjust active participation. By age 9 he had amassed over 70 feature wins.Karting was next, with another raft of championships and another 10feature wins.
With seven years of racing experience at the ripe old age of 12, thenext step was 600cc Mini Sprints. That produced another 14 feature wins,Rookie of the Year, and the 2004 AMMA Championship. Do you see a patterndeveloping here? For many racers, the idea of over 84 feature wins is areal accomplishment. Even so, this 14-year-old is still waiting for theclock to tick around a few more times so he can get his driver'slicense.
When the '05 season opened, he moved up to fullsize Midgets and keptdriving in the Mini-Sprints. Boat's record in the Midgets was two winsin 11 starts. He also owns the record at Manzanita Speedway as theyoungest feature winner in the track's storied history. By the way, healso won 12 more main events in the Mini-Sprints. That brings thefeature total to 98.
What does the future hold? Currently, he is starting to race in theASA's Speed Truck series and campaign a Sprint Car and a Midget. Thiskid is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Remember that name--Chad Boat. He has all the traits of a professionaldriver, including a talented bloodline as the son of former IRL driverBilly Boat. The only thing he needs besides a race car is a chauffeur toget him to the track. --J.H.
Dalton Zehr. Bob Milner
Many race fans might have never heard of Zehr before now, but the chanceof hearing that name more in the near future is very likely. That'sespecially true if the 15-year-old Daytona Beach resident keeps up thepace that he's been setting.
Zehr has accomplished more in his short racing career than most drivershope for in a lifetime. He got his racing career started when he was 7years old in Caldwell, Idaho, in a class of dirt winged cars called BoxStocks. On tracks in Florida and the Southeast, he started racing in thescale-car Bandolero division in 2002 when he was 11 years old. In hisfirst full season, he won 17 out of 26 races, including an impressive10-race winning streak. That season, Zehr had the highest points averageper race in the nation.
At age 15, Zehr has already turned heads in Florida. Bob Milner
In 2004, Zehr moved up to the FastKids Truck Series and walked away atthe end of the season with seven victories in 17 starts as well as thechampionship. The 2005 season saw Zehr compete in a myriad of differentracing divisions, including the Sunbelt Series, Fastruck Series,Intermountain Series, ProTruck Series, and Mid-America Racing Series.
Zehr celebrated his 14th birthday last year by making his first SuperLate Model start. In 2006, he is competing in the ASA Southern Seriesfor Coleman Racing. He plans on running some Hooters Pro Cup and ARCAevents to get seat time before he reaches the age of 18, the minimum ageallowed to compete at any level of NASCAR. --J.M.
Pierce is a driving instructor with the Bondurant Driving School. Phil Kunz
You'd have to call Pierce, a 32-year-old USAC open-wheel driver, a latestarter in racing by today's standards. He really didn't get thingsgoing until 1997 when he was in his early 20s.
He started in Legends Cars and was highly successful in two years ofcompetition, including winning 10 of 15 indoor races that first year. In1998, he was Third in season points with two organizations.
Next, a year in the Kenyon Midgets saw 8 wins in 11 starts before movingto full Midgets in 1999. In 2001, he finished Second in points with theNAMARS Midget group.
Arron Pierce. Phil Kunz
Then came a Regional USAC Midget title in 2002, four Sprint Car wins in2003, and a Rookie of the Year honor in USAC Silver Crown cars in 2004.Last season, he was a driver in the redesigned Silver Crown cars thatwill run a number of races with NASCAR.
Pierce is presently a High Performance Driving instructor with theBondurant Driving School, teaching high-profile clients, such as membersof the Secret Service, driving techniques in high-powered street cars."I have been also involved with personnel from GM, Ford, and othercompanies in my teaching capacity," he says.
"My goal is to reach the pinnacle of racing, NASCAR. I would love tohave an opportunity to race in any of the NASCAR series and show themwhat I can do. I believe this new Silver Crown series is a steppingstone, an
Four You Have Heard About
There are several young competitors already familiar to enthusiasts whofollow the sport. There are four drivers in particular--Steve Wallace,Kyle Grissom, Matt Martin, and Joey Logano--who are already on the radarscreen of top teams and safe bets to have a shot in NASCAR.
Wallace is the 18-year-old son of 1989 Winston Cup champion RustyWallace. This year, Steve is competing in limited NASCAR Busch Seriesraces as well as various ARCA events. The young Wallace got his racingcareer started in the Legends Car events at Lowe's Motor Speedway, wherehe became one of the top drivers in INEX history with multiple nationalchampionships. He also won the prestigious Summer Shootout at Lowe'sMotor Speedway in addition to being a multiple INEX track champion atConcord Motorsport Park.
Wallace made headlines in December 2004 when he won the prestigiousSnowball Derby, one of the biggest Late Model races in the country. Headded another impressive victory to his resume last year at MichiganInternational Speedway when he scored a dominant win in his first ARCAstart. Wallace scored his second ARCA win this year at KentuckySpeedway. In addition to his foray into Busch competition this season,Wallace is trying to talk his father into letting him move up to theNASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
Grissom also competed extensively in the small cars that INEX producesfor the Summer Shootout at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The son of 1993 BuschSeries champion Steve Grissom started racing go-karts at the age of 8.He moved to racing Bandoleros in 1998 before making the move to theLegends Car division in 2001. He has won numerous championships.
Grissom is 16 years old and will be entering his junior year of highschool this fall, but on the weekends you will find thesecond-generation racer doing battle in the UARA Series. Grissom startedracing in UARA for three races in 2004 before running the entireschedule in 2005, winning the Rookie of the Year award while finishingThird in the final point standings.
Grissom got the 2006 season started by winning at the historicGreenville-Pickens (South Carolina) Speedway and led the UARAchampionship standings early in the season. Because of NASCAR's agelimit, Grissom--as well as Logano and Martin--won't be able to race untilhis 18th birthday.
Martin is another second-generation racer who got his racing careerstarted in the Summer Shootout at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The son ofNextel Cup Series driver Mark Martin, the young Martin will be enteringthe ninth grade this fall. On the weekends, though, you'll find MattMartin racing--and winning--in the FASCAR Pro-Cup Series.
Martin is also a regular at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway in the track'sLimited Late Model division. Martin is only 13 years old.
Logano has already caught the eyes of several Nextel Cup team owners,including Jack Roush and Joe Gibbs. Many thought the 16 year-old driverwould sign a contract with Roush
Racing, but he shocked more than a few people earlier this year when hesigned a driver development deal with Joe Gibbs Racing. Mark Martincalls Logano "the real deal."
Logano, a regular in the Gibbs Racing Oil entry in the Hooters Pro CupSeries, got started in competitive motorsports at the age of 5 when hisfather bought him a go-kart that was designed for a 10-year-old. The gasand brake pedals had to be adjusted so the young driver could reachthem. After a successful stint in the Legends and Bandolero divisions,Logano is focused on winning the 2006 Hooters Pro Cup championship. Heis the youngest driver to win in the history of the circuit. --JasonMitchell