Jimmy “Nitro” Williams still remembers how he bought his first race car, way back in 1998. He was at the races at Viking Speedway in Alexandria was talking to Jim and Shawn Koranda — Jim was running a street stock at Viking while Shawn had just hopped into a modified — when they made the offer to Williams to test the streeter the next week at Viking.
It didn’t take him long to get hooked.
“I talked to those two and they let me test-drive that car in the heat in Alexandria the next week. They said ‘if you want to run it in the feature you’re going to have to buy it Jimmy.’” Williams said. “They gave me a test drive. I come in and Jim Koranda says ‘what do you think?’ I couldn’t see a damn thing. But I’ll take it.”
More than two decades later, the veteran from De Graff, Minn. — a small town located just eight miles southeast of Benson, Minn. — is still behind the wheel of the #22W street stock. He’ll be at Viking Speedway on Saturday for the half-mile’s season opener, which is also another stop on the Steffes Street Stock tour.
Williams may also boast one of the best nicknames in area racing — Nitro. It was given to him back in the days when Williams had some intense battles with fellow driver Mark Blom. One fan started calling him Nitro Jimmy, made a sign with the name on it — and he’s been Nitro ever since.
“I’m happy to be out having fun,” Williams said. “We just love it. We’re trying to get the car more competitive.”
Williams has done plenty on the track, too. He has 41 feature wins at Viking — the most of any street stock driver ever at the track.
“It’s something to be proud of. It’s nice to run good, and run with these guys. There’s a lot of talent out here,” Williams said.
He’s won three street stock track championships at Viking — which he considers his favorite place to race — and has two at KRA Speedway in Willmar and one at Madison Speedway. In 2003 he won the dual track championship between Viking and Madison when the tracks were sanctioned NASCAR.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Williams said.
Nitro is still running competitively at age 61. In four shows this year at I-94 Sure Step Speedway, he’s finished in the top five three times. Williams owns and operates Jim’s Transmission in De Graff and says despite the Covid-19 pandemic, business has been good.. His son, Matthew and grandson, Landon help a lot of with the street stock.
“The boys do most of the work on the car and I work in the transmission shop,” Williams said. “We’ve been fortunate this year; we’ve been keeping busy.”
Two of his regular tracks open this week — KRA (tonight) and Viking (on Saturday). Matthew and Landon are two big reasons he’s still behind the wheel.
“They love it. We all do,” Williams said. “It keeps us out of the bar. We kinda look forward to it all winter.”
Jimmy “Nitro” Williams
Wissota Street Stock #22W
Hometown: De Graff, Minn.
Sponsors: First Murdock Agency, Inc., John’s Body Shop, Thonvold Excavating, Tirell Trucking, Dooley’s Petroleum, Dakota Engine Builders, Outlaw Graphics, Stealth Chassis, Jim’s Transmission, Benson Air Ag, Fischer Farms, Hawkinson Construction, Riley’s Travel, Debbie Anderson Agency, Northside Auto Supply, Benson Laundry