Troy Williams Jr. knows a thing or two about big-money bracket races, winning them and what it takes to succeed with a big check on the line.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier, even as the accolades continue to come for the veteran. He’ll head to the Great American Guaranteed Million, which takes place May 20-25 in Memphis, as one of the favorites – or at least one of many capable of winning the million-dollar payday – but that won’t make the weekend any easier. In fact, Williams admits, a litany of wins makes the spotlight even bigger and winning races possibly more difficult.
“It absolutely doesn’t allow you to perform better,” Williams said. “They put a bulls-eye on you, but it’s a give and take. The competition-side has increased and, to be honest, the biggest thing anybody can do is to race every time like it’s just a round. I don’t approach a million-dollar race…you attempt to not approach a million-dollar race any differently than you would a $5,000 race at home.
“You try to do the same thing and put down a great run. Even if you do that, you can lose. Everybody in bracket racing has great stuff and if there’s 450 guys there, there’s 300 of them truly capable of winning.”
That’s about the number who will have a fighter’s chance in Memphis, putting it all on the line to win the Great American Guaranteed Million. The brainchild of promoters Britt Cummings and Gaylon Rolison, the highly-anticipated race has attracted all the big names in the bracket racing world for the first-ever guaranteed million-dollar payday.
Williams is among that group, and has always been a fan of their Great American bracket races. He’s expecting another memorable scene in Memphis, knowing full well it will be a first-class event.
“The potential to have a race like this has been there for a few years. Britt and Gaylon made it happen first, and it’s very exciting. I can’t tell you how jacked up everyone has been,” Williams said. “Anytime racers put on events, they tend to run better. They know what the racers expect, what should happen, and especially someone with the experience Britt has and what he’s seen. It’s one of the best-run programs there is, there’s no doubt about that.
“Anytime you’re at a comfort level, it’s a lot easier to focus on the competition part. If you’re second-guessing the decisions, you kind of get distracted. If it’s run absolutely correctly, it’s easy to get zoned in.”
That starts with testing, includes the trio of $40,000-to-win races during the course of the race, and then, of course, the main event, which will start on Friday, May 22 and conclude the next day.
With the million-dollar race taking place over the course of two days, Williams noted the challenge of that, as well as the escalating pressure as the race goes on.
“You really have to be numb to it. You can’t get any more jacked up for the finals than the first round,” Williams said. “I know guys that are rock stars the first few rounds, and then they start getting deep and they fall apart, and vice-versa. The biggest deal is just staying even keel, and trying to keep everything as normal as possible. The biggest thing is just staying calm and doing your deal.”
It’s a routine that has brought Williams immense success throughout his career. He’s won the Million Dollar Race, $50,000-to-win races three times, dozens of $20,000 and $10,000-to-win races, as well as championships in the IHRA, NHRA – where he’s an 11-time divisional champ – and B&M series.
Williams and his brother, Gary, will each bring their dragsters to Memphis, while the veteran will also bring his Chevrolet S-10 truck and possibly another dragster for his son, Brandon.
It will be all hands on deck, but the reason for that is clear – a victory in Memphis at the Great American Guaranteed Million changes everything.
“It’s life-changing money for anyone, I don’t care who you are. I don’t care who wins, it’s going to have an impact. It’s a phenomenal amount of money,” Williams said.