Wilson County racer William Hale says last season just about everything went wrong “except the seat falling out of the car.”
He forecasts better things this year, as he prepares to challenge for the Pro Late Model championship at Fairgrounds Speedway.
“My expectation is to win — it’s that simple,” says William, 19, who races out of his grandfather Alan’s shop in Mt. Juliet. “That’s the bar I’ve set. I won’t be satisfied with anything less. Last year was disappointing because we didn’t get a win.”
William won Rookie of the Year in 2017 and his career appeared to be on the rise. But he had a bumpy ride last season, exemplified by a trip to Canada for a Labor Day race. Just two laps into a heat race he was wiped out in a wreck.
“We drove eight hours and raced two laps,” Alan says, managing a chuckle as he added: “But we got to see some pretty scenery while we were up there.”
Like William, Alan has not lost his confidence.
“We’re expanding the race shop,” he says. “We’re going to be doing this for a long time. Will works hard and I’m going to help him every way I can. We’ll get things turned around eventually.”
“He has supported me every step of the way,” William says of his grandfather. “I wouldn’t be here without him. When we start winning, the trophies will be for both of us.”
Alan says one reason for the optimism is the presence of crew chief Bobby Hurt, who in the past worked with the famed Wayne Day Racing team.
“Bobby knows a lot about racing and race cars,” Alan says, “and he’s a great mentor for Will.”
William spent a semester at Vol State, with plans to transfer to Tennessee Tech and major in engineering. He has put those plans on hold temporarily to help out at his grandfather’s race shop and his Hale Mechanical appliance dealership in Mt. Juliet.
In addition to making a bid for the title at Fairgrounds Speedway, William also plans to run a major race in Montgomery Ala.
“It’s fun, traveling and racing at different tracks,” he says, adding:
“It’ll be more fun when we start winning.”
Alan echoes the favorable sentiments of several other Wilson County racers about the new track management at the Fairgrounds.
“I’m hopeful about it,” he says. “The track needed a breath of fresh air.”
“All drivers ask for is to be treated equally,” William says. “I expect the new management to do that. When I roll onto the track, I want to feel like I’ve got the same chance as everybody else.”
Rather than being discouraged by some of the past struggles, William says they have made him even more determined.
“I know we can get it done,” he says. “All we need is for things to go our way for a change. We’re not just due — we’re overdue.”
Larry Woody is The Democrat’s motorsports writer. Email him at email@example.com.