Steve Williams has been quickly adding to his NHRA National Event Wally collection during the 2013 racing season and after his stops in Sonoma, California for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals and the following weekend in Seattle, Washington for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, the V.P. at K&N Engineering racked up two more victories in his Super Comp dragster. The wins brought his Super Comp total to five, and with his Super Gas win at Topeka earlier in the season, a career tally of seven overall.
Steve Williams earns Wally at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals
K&N V.P. Steve Williams at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals
The Beaumont, California resident was again doing double duty in two NHRA categories, both Super Gas and Super Comp, but it was his TNT dragster and its 622ci power plant that would carry him to his first Super Comp win of the season at Sonoma.
"Sometimes you drive really well and you don't have any results to show for it," explained Williams of the rounds at Somona. "The next thing you know you get all kinds of crazy luck and I would describe Sonoma that way. Although I drive pretty well in some rounds, there was just crazy stuff going like in the second round, Autostart didn't work. The starter had to override it and on the Racepak it showed we were on the transbrake for three and a half seconds."
Steve Williams and Family in Victory Lane at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals
"I was running Justin Davis and he actually lifted off the throttle and I'm in the middle of lifting and turning my head and by then the tree comes on," he continued. "So, it was just one of those crazy rounds. In that situation, since I've raced long enough, experience just takes over and you know since you have lifted off the throttle, you know you are not going to be fast enough and I just hit the override and made sure I took the winlight."
Steve Williams earns Wally at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals
Williams went on to send both Cody Perkins and Michael Winston home early in Super Comp and was still on a roll in his '63 K&N Corvette roadster in the 9.90 Super Gas category.
"I think the hardest thing for me was we ran late Saturday night and at that point I was still in with both cars," he reflected. "At both Sonoma and Seattle, they have a track that faces directly into the sun as it sets. In hindsight, I probably should have told Mark that I couldn't see the tree because the only thing I could see was the white line between the stage bulb and I just never saw the tree come on," he admitted of his round in Super Gas. "I actually left after Rick [Beckstrom] left the line. You know, he had won coin toss and he put me in right lane, which is the one that makes you look right into the sun, and which you should do."
K&N V.P. Steve Williams at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals
"Come Sunday, I'm still kind of stinging from all that because I have done pretty well in the Corvette and that was my last claiming national event," he said. "But somehow on Sunday, I sucked it up and in the fifth round the guy went red."
Williams had been dealing with an odd gremlin over the last few rounds in his K&N dragster, but where the car wasn't performing at its peak, his top end driving was.
"It was so strange, the dragster was dialed but on the starting line I kept having a bog in the throttle, which I never have a problem like that with my cars," he said. "So I missed the tree in the semis, but we had picked up about a 25mph tailwind and my guy was breaking out and I was able to get back on the good side of the number."
Steve Williams and Family in Victory Lane at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals
But that's where it got really interesting for Williams.
"So before the final, we took the scoop off and we are scrambling to find out what was going on," he pointed out. "Well what had happened was the bracket for the return spring had come loose and had moved over and was keeping the front squirter from working. We tested it and it worked perfect."
Now Williams would face Ken Mostowich in the Super Comp final, and surprisingly, he was quite relaxed.
"With all the crazy things that had taken place, I was pretty laid back and I hit the tree pretty good," he noted. "For whatever reason, Ken was a little slow. I knew what his 1000 foot time was and by the time we got to that point I was already driving by him. I just squeezed the brake pedal down and the win light came on."
With barely a few days to enjoy his NHRA Sonoma Nationals Super Comp win, Williams was off to his next event and the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, just outside of Seattle.
"Probably the only mistake I made at Seattle was being a little too conservative with the delay box," he confessed. "I had been struggling with the dragster and it started about Houston or so where I had been working with Gary Stinnett, trying to figure this out. Gary has been great trying to help get this car so it has a good combination where it is repeating and reliable on the starting line, but even at Seattle, I was still stuck on the sting of all the red lights during the first part of the year."
"First round was a killer one in Super Comp," explained Williams. "I raced one of the local guys up there and I was .013 and he was I think .021. He's 8.904 and I'm 8.907."
Williams also made it past first round of Super Gas in his Corvette, before bowing out in a tough lap against Val Torres in round two. Over in Super Comp, he had what he felt like was a lucky round when Tory Lea turned it .011 red. "I was a little late on the tree or I may not have got past that one," he said.
"After that, I was driving really well," he continued. "The weather didn't change much, maybe got just a little warmer. The car was just really good. The last couple of rounds, my guys were a little bit slow and for me that's perfect coming from behind."
Williams outdrove Brian Preszler, Thomas Bayer and Al Hampton on his way to meet up with Andy Morris in his second Super Comp final in as many weekends.
"The Morris family are really great people," he noted of his final round competition. "I've raced with Andy's dad for years and they are all good racers. I didn't want to give it away and I was still too conservative with the delay box and I probably should have taken ten [.010] out."
Williams grabbed a huge starting line advantage with his .029 to Morris' .072 light and easily parlayed that into the Super Comp win with an 8.945 to 8.929 holeshot lap.
"I knew I had at least two to three hundredths when we went past the tree," said Williams. "When you know where he should be at certain points on the track and I was quite a bit in front of him than I should have been, so I was bound and determined to take the win light. [laughs] I have to say, it was unexpected to win."
The O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals Super Comp win made it three wins in a row for Williams in as many outings. "You just never know when the luck is going to change," he said of the feat. "But somehow it certainly makes up for all those redlights and 8.899 breakouts at the beginning of the season."
"Lots of things happened over the two weeks that were really great, like the new owners of K&N got to come to the winner's circle and see what NHRA championship racing is all about when I won at Sonoma," he noted. "My wife and daughter made the trip to both events, so they got to be there for the wins and when your family is there to share those moments with you, it just makes them extra special."
Williams knows that drag racing at this level takes quite a team of individuals and he is quite grateful for those who have played a part in all his successes over the years.
"Travis Hodges drives the K&N truck and trailer, and we build all our motors in-house here at K&N and John Reedy does a great job. Without those guys helping me, I could not race," he stated. "Without K&N supporting me and being so involved in racing [paused] I'm a very lucky man."
In addition to the long list of K&N products on both of Williams' NHRA national event winning rides, he adds thanks to several manufacturers he feels are all key components to his tremendous success.
"It's important to give these guys credit," he stressed. "Companies like Brodix, MBE, Sunset Racecraft, Hoosier Tires and Moroso. These are manufacturers that not only support me but all of us out there racing with their support of the sport and the outstanding products they manufacture. If they all didn't do the excellent job that they do, I wouldn't be able to win one race let alone put together a streak of wins."