A year after flipping and totalling a car in his first career race, Shane Williams is a national champion.
The Minot resident and Minnesota native won the 2012 INEX Legends Points Championship for the Masters (age 40-plus) dirt division.
The season concluded last week in Elko, Minn., where Williams took third in both the national championship race and the race of champions.
The 43-year-old laughed when thinking back to his rocky start in 2011.
"I was upside down on the front straightaway," Williams said, "but I had fun doing it. I jumped out of the car screaming and hooping and hollering. I guess I'm nuts like that."
Williams grew up racing Go Karts, but stopped as an early teen. He continued to follow the sport and was asked to drive last year by his friend Tim Brockhouse.
Brockhouse - a former champion and this year's national championship race winner - brought two cars to Nodak Speedway and Williams took the offer to try out the tiny 1937 Chevy sedan.
The series has proved to be a natural fit for Williams, who raced across the midwest this season.
"I've been pretty lucky," he said. "I won a bunch of races, I won a track championship in Glyndon, Minn., and won nine features over there."
Williams is considering racing in Las Cruces, N.M., next week and plans to enter the Nodak sport modified series next season in hopes of racing closer to home.
"It's not real expensive," he said. "They run a crate motor and that's actually cheaper than the motor I put in my Legends car."
Burlington's Zachary Lutz, 16, also had a strong year in Legends racing. The Des Lacs-Burlington High School junior took second nationally in the Young Lions (16-under) dirt division. He had a big final weekend in Elko, taking the race of champions and coming in second in the title race.
"It felt great," Lutz said. "I mean, the car ran awesome all summer so I had a good year."
Lutz has been racing Legends for four years.
"I like the fact that I race with a bunch of guys that don't wreck all the time," he said, "and I don't have to work on my car 24/7 like in some other classes."