Bill McAnally has an impressive list of accomplishments as a race team owner, with 10 championships in what is now the ARCA Menards Series West topping that resume. McAnally is now using his resources and experience to open the BMR Drivers Academy, hoping to give the next wave of racers valuable seat time to climb the racing ladder.
However, McAnally’s success story comes from humble beginnings. His career started like many short track heroes, racing on Saturday nights at his local race track while working a regular job to pay the bills and fund his racing. McAnally shared his story on Speed51’s “The Bullring” Monday.
“I worked at a utility company and raced Saturday nights at All American Speedway in Roseville,” McAnally said. “I started in their entry-level Bomber division and worked my way up to Street Stocks and Late Models. I had an opportunity to contend for and win a NASCAR Winston Racing Series championship there in the premier division. I always loved racing.”
All of that nearly came to a halt in 1994. While preparing for the new season, an act of vandalism cost McAnally his race car and equipment.
“Back in 1994, we were loaded up and headed to Mesa Marin Speedway to open the Winston West season. I had a dually and an enclosed trailer, and I had parked it away from my house. I had parked there many times and didn’t have a problem. Someone stole it and took it to a rice field, took what they wanted, dumped my fuel jug over and lit the truck and trailer on fire to cover their prints. It was devastating. I was working at a utility company fighting for every penny I could to go racing.”
Surprisingly, one phone call from NASCAR Cup Series team owner Richard Childress helped McAnally get back on track.
“I got home from the utility company one night, and there was a message on my phone. Richard Childress had called and said to call him back. I couldn’t sleep that night waiting to call RC back.
“I wound up flying to RCR. He had talked to Chuck Bahari. I think Michael Waltrip was driving for him at the time. Richard and Chuck set me up. RC took me over to the parts warehouse and said, ‘Anything we’re not using that can help Bill out, let him take it.’ We filled up a U-Haul truck with wheels, clutches, springs, all kinds of stuff that RC and Chuck Bahari gave me. I came back and won a Late Model race the next weekend and sent RC the trophy.”
While he enjoyed racing, McAnally made the decision to jump to car ownership in 1999. That decision immediately proved successful, winning the championship in what was then called the Winston West Series with Sean Woodside.
“In 1999, I got smart and got out of the race car and had drivers that wanted to develop and move forward, and made a business of it. I couldn’t do it driving myself. I wanted to, I just didn’t have the talent to move forward. It was too hard to get the money together, and I was too worried about crashing cars and spending the money to fix them.”
The rest is indeed history. Since then, Brendan Gaughan, Eric Holmes, Chris Eggleston, Todd Gilliland, Derek Kraus and Jesse Love have won series championships while driving for McAnally.
The interactions with Childress from 1994 also spawned a friendship and a business relationship. Many of the drivers who have competed for McAnally came from a partnership with Childress.
“We struck a friendship and we started developing drivers for him. We worked with Sarah Fisher, Clint Bowyer, Kerry Earnhardt, Peyton Sellers. We had a lot of fun working with RC, and what a great organization to spend some time and learn how to build a professional organization.”
To hear Speed51’s “The Bullring” interview with Bill McAnally in its entirety, click here.
For more information on the BMR Drivers Academy, click here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevvans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo