Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Ronnie Williams

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Ronnie Williams (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Ronnie Williams – Those are the good memories

Ronnie Williams of Ellington got his interest in racing from his grandfather. From a very young age Williams sat in the grandstands of Stafford Speedway cheering for his favorite Modified driver, his grandfather, Fred Peckham. Living within ear shot of Stafford Speedway, the roar of modifieds drew the Williams family to the track. 

In 2012, Williams buckled in the seat of an SK Light Modified, scoring four Wins and 13 Podium finishes in two seasons of competition in the division. In 2014, Williams graduated to an SK Modified and achieved a win in his first season in the division. Like his grandfather, Williams found his comfort zone in an SK Modified. He won SK Modified championships at Stafford Speedway in 2018 and 2019. He now competes weekly in the No. 50 SK Modified at Stafford and fills his race schedule competing with the NASCAR Whelen Modified, Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series and Open Modified events when he can. He may not turn the wrenches, but he turns the steering wheel and has proven his skill with success. 

What got you interested in racing?

“My grandfather, Fred Peckham. He raced at Stafford Motor Speedway from 1991-1997 and won rookie of the year in 1992. He drove an SK Modified. His best finish was seventh, so he was not a top of the field guy, but he loved the sport. He did not have a lot of money and they went to Stafford with what they could. He loved racing until my grandmother made him quit after a bad accident one year. He had broken a couple of ribs and other stuff. He could not take time off from work if he got hurt at racing so he stopped. So I got my start because of him. We lived right up the road and came here every Friday night.

“We were only about one mile up the road from the track and we would hear the cars every Friday about six o’clock and when we heard the Modified sound it was time to go down. So my grandfather got us into racing.

“I came to the track with my cousins once my grandfather stopped racing. We had our spot in turn four on the top row. My grandfather would put the blanket down for us there. Those are good memories.”

What type of racing do you like the best?

“It depends on the year and it depends on how good the car is. This year we are having a lot of success with the Open (Tour Type Modified) car. So I know anytime that we go to Staffor with the Open car, I know that we are going to be very fast and have the potential to win. We have been good this year in the SK [Modified], except for a few little races. And even [with car owner Gary Casella’s] car, every time we go to [a Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series] race or Thompson [Speedway Outlaw Modified event] you know that car is going to be top notch. I like them all.”

Do you work on the cars you drive at all?

“No. I do not think that people understand. I would rather be good at one thing instead of being OK at a bunch of other things. Some people that work on race cars are OK on a bunch of things which is great. But I am sure that they cannot tell me what the PE ratio of the S&P 500 is. I have my thing outside of racing. Racing is not my whole life. A lot of these guys racing is their life, it is their night and day world. I am fortunate to be able to come to the track to race and I can tell my crew what it is going on with the car without worrying about what spindle or what shock or what the car is doing. I can just tell my crew that it is loose in the center and tight off, fix it. Then when I go back out I can tell them if it is fixed. I do not want to over think the stuff. I like the aspect that the No. 50 team has built such good guys in different areas that we can excel as one team. It is like any business, the CEO does not do everything in the company he delegates.”

What is your most memorable racing experience?

“Probably the first [NAPA SK 5K] win with the No. 50 team. Because anything that I did in that race, I did it correctly. Or I could go to the next year when I won [at New Hampshire Motor Speedway] on Sunday, won the Tri-Track race with Gary (Casella) on Wednesday at Seekonk and then I went to Stafford and won the [NAPA SK 5K] race. So that week or within six days I won three big races and that will never happen again. It was a cool Trifecta.”

What challenges do drivers have at Stafford Speedway?

“Today it is not so much the race car, but mind games with social media. Back in the day when Teddy would boot someone it wasn’t about going online and posting something about him. People kept their thoughts to themselves and most would not go up to Teddy in the first place. You can go online after a race and see how much people hate you and do not like your move and stuff like that. People instant messaging you where it is not so much just about racing now but more of a mind thing. I do not really care what people think or I didn’t until it got to me. It was then that I realized that you have the people around you for a reason and I can now really say I do not care.”

What are your 2022 Goals?

“To win races. I have three this year I think. Last year was not an ideal year being suspended and that whole other thing. It was kind of like having the year off. We just come here to have fun. I realize that a championship does not change your life. So at the end of the day it is the people around you. I have some great people that I like coming to Stafford and hanging around with every Friday night. If we won a championship at Stafford that would be great, but right now it does not look like we are going to. So our goal this year is just to win races.”

If you had to do it all over again would you?

“I would not give this up. My wife and I have our own interests. Her thing is horses and my thing is racing. And we support each other to the fullest and are comfortable with it. So it is good to have multiple things.

“I am with good race teams. My end goal was to race in the [Whelen Modified Tour]. That was always my dream. It is cool to see that I have done that but now I can just continue on and build and make friendships with these guys.” 

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