Chris Williams Joins Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as Race Director
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – After countless years in the sport, in various different roles, Chris Williams will join Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as NASCAR Race Director in 2019.
Williams has done just about everything in the sport of auto racing – from sitting behind the wheel himself in the Mini Stock division all the way to being the Saturday night Race Operations Manager at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In between both of these roles, Williams has also worked in technical inspection, spotted for drivers on the track and held the Race Director position with the Pro 4 Modifieds.
He is looking forward to leading the charge for Thompson’s 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series calendar. The schedule begins in just under one month, with the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend, April 5-7.
“I’ve been around racing since I was born,” Williams said. “My uncle ran modifieds back in the early 1980s, both at Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedway. I’m ready to join the staff at Thompson. I’ve been going to the facility since I was a kid -- I’ve raced there, and been on a crew there. The history at the track is so deep and I want to be a part of the history continuing.”
Williams fills the role that was most recently held by Scott Tapley, and even though Williams is bringing his own procedures to the table, the success of his prior work with Tapley and established Race Director Tom Fox is going to help from the procedural standpoint. He’s looking forward to putting his own structure in place for competitors to follow.
“I’ve worked under both of these Race Directors, so I know their ways and there are lot of things both of them do in their role that I use on my side as well. I just think the years of experience help me in making the most accurate, fair, calls on the spot,” Williams said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. It’s a split-second decision.”
Through his experience in the sport, Williams has been up and down the East Coast and visited countless tracks. With an eye on the competition, Williams has also seen the behind the scenes work of track officials, and feels like previous knowledge will help him in crafting the best procedures for Thompson Speedway.
“Everybody has a different way of doing it, but now, better than I have in the past, I can bring different things to the table in the position to make it a better show for the fans, and the competitors,” Williams said. “I want to come in and make things competitor-friendly – making sure to have the competitors in mind as the Race Director.”
After Terry Eames took over Thompson as General Manager, one of his top responsibilities throughout the winter was to put the NASCAR staff in place to make the 10-race schedule run smoothly for fans. With the addition of Williams to the staff, the group is nearly complete.
“We are excited to have Chris join the staff here at Thompson,” Eames said. “Chris worked with me at the Waterford Speedbowl in the past, and he really has a deep understanding for the race management side of the operations. We’ve developed a great plan for the season.”
Above all, Williams knows that each race is going to be just that – it’s own event. Even though races will build on each other, and staff and competitors will make adjustments throughout the season, it’s important to begin with an open-mind.
“Any human knows that no one is perfect, but each race, all of the cars on the track are just that – cars with numbers, to me,” Williams said. “Everyone starts the season with a clean slate. I’m looking forward to it.”
Adding to the staff, Thompson Speedway will make a clear line between the Race Director role and the Technical Inspection. For questions regarding Race Procedures and action on the .625-mile oval itself, competitors will be asked to contact Williams. For questions surrounding the technical aspect of the race cars, teams are encouraged to contact the technical staff.
Leading the list of inspectors will be the Head Tehcnical Inspector of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Mark St. Hiliare.
“We strive to make the complete field of cars as competitive with each other as possible to provide a great experience for the fans,” Hilaire said when he was announced for the role. “We strive to make rules to help keep everyone safe. Our tech staff is there for the competitors.”
Joining Hilaire, Thompson Speedway welcomes additional staff for the NASCAR events, including the addition of David Faita as Track Services Manager for the Road Course events and Chris Austill as Track Services Manager for the NASCAR events. Todd Stiles, who worked in the technical inspection department last year, will continue with the facility as a consultant to the tech department for 2019.
With the staff in place, work continues at the track to prepare the facility for the 45th annual Icebreaker, which is quickly approaching. The Connecticut oval will open the New England racing season, with the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the openers for all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. Over the winter, Thompson Speedway announced the addition of the Lite Modifieds as the Division III class.
Fans are encouraged to grab their camping spot as soon as possible, and can do that via the website and the registrations tab. The season officially begins with the Icebreaker, but teams will have a chance to Test and Tune on Saturday, March 23.
For more information on the oval track, and the road course, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.