116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Jonny Williams is one of many second- and third-generation drivers pushing Hawkeye Downs Speedway toward its 100-year anniversary.
“I live five minutes from the track,” Williams said. “We have two kids and my wife and I both work a ton of hours, so it benefits my family to race at Hawkeye Downs.”
Williams started in Go-Karts at age 13 and, after graduating from Benton Community High School in 2005, moved up to the Hornet division in 2007 at age 20.
“It was pretty crazy,” Williams said of moving up to a real racecar. “Just the surroundings are so different.”
Racing always has been in the Williams family with Jonny's uncle, Jim, owning Advantage Chassis, which has built the framing for many of the cars at Hawkeye Downs, including most of the hornet division.
Originally from Atkins, Williams was a summer hire at General Mills nine years ago when he joined his father, Chuck, who has been with the company more than 30 years.
At General Mills, Williams met his wife, Michelle, and the couple with two kids — Maddison, 4 years old, and Ben, 5 months — will celebrate six years of marriage on July 2.
“(Michelle) allows me to work on the cars or go racing and that sacrifices her time,” Williams said. “Her support means a ton.”
Now racing in the Sport Mod division, Williams is thankful Hawkeye Downs provides him a place to pursue his passion.
“It's pretty impressive that (Hawkeye Downs) is still going,” Williams said. “I wish they could get more cars, but I think Brian (Gibson) and Jay (Crabill) are getting it going in the right direction.”
On the track, Williams said he races how he likes to be raced, with respect for his fellow drivers.
That led to Williams finding Victory Lane two weeks ago, a moment the 35-year-old has learned to cherish.
“You never know when it'll be the last (victory) so you have to celebrate in the moment and take it all in as best as you can,” Williams said. “Wins are hard to come by and you never know when the last one is going to come.”
Williams, fourth in the points standings, finished third in his heat last Friday, but did not finish the feature.