Brandon Williams is steeped in the racing industry as a race car driver, hauler driver and crew member for Dave Reed Racing. The Redding, California resident is also the father of a young racer hoping to make his way up the racing ladder. For Williams, racing is his passion, but he has been busy over the last month helping cut-in fire breaks on the Carr Fire in Redding California.
Most summers Williams and his company, Sunrise Excavation out of Redding, California, are called upon to run his bulldozers on major fires, a risky job even compared to driving a race car.
Recently, Williams has been helping save homes and cities from burning to the ground. Williams has three Caterpillar bulldozers and two water trucks working the fires, and most of the time he is right in the middle of it operating the equipment. It is an endeavor that is dangerous at times, but also rewarding.
“My family owns an excavating and paving company. It has been a lot of fun working with my family and being outdoors,” Williams told Speed51.com. “I really enjoy running heavy equipment and I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. We contract with Cal Fire for emergency wild land fires with a lot of our equipment, mainly dozers. It is a lot of long hours and it is a massive adrenaline rush when things get hot out there. I have to admit that I have been scared from time to time.
“Dozer operators are the number one discipline of workers who are killed during a fire. What scares me the most is getting burned all over or rolling to the bottom of a canyon in a machine that weighs anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 pounds. Overall I feel safe, however, as I have over 30 years of experience operating heavy equipment.”
Earlier this month, Williams had to remove himself from cutting fire breaks to save his own home, which was in the direct path of the Carr Fire. His family was evacuated, as was everyone in the greater Redding area. At that time, Williams made the decision to stay and defend his home after all of his family and animals left the area for safer locations. Fortunately for Williams, the winds changed direction and now his family and property are safe. But nearly 230,000 acres were burned, with over 1,000 residences destroyed and three firefighter fatalities.
On the race track, Williams has been racing all over the Northern California scene for many years in everything from an Outlaw Kart, to Motorcycles, to Super Late Models.
“I started racing BMX at a young age, probably eight I guess,” Williams explained. “That quickly changed into motocross, and I raced motocross all over the state of California. From the mid-80’s to mid-2000, I won several races and was a vet expert when I stopped racing motocross. I started racing four wheels around ‘92 to current.
“I have won many Outlaw Kart races, two Red Bluff Outlaw Championships and a West Coast National Championship in the Sportsman Division. I have raced Asphalt Modifieds off and on from 1995 to 2015, and have several wins in that division as well. I’ve also played around in Asphalt 360 Winged Sprint Cars.”
Williams is currently concentrating his on-track efforts on his Outlaw Kart, Super Late Model and his son’s racing career.
“Currently I still race Outlaw Karts,” Williams began. “I also occasionally race the Asphalt Super Late, and I would love to win in that division to finish off my racing career. But I have been focusing on my son Brayden’s racing now and spending my extra time on his Kart racing. To summarize my racing career, I have spent a lot of money, had a few injuries, and made a lot of good friends over the years.”
Williams most recently has raced at Shasta Speedway, his home track, in his No. 91 Super Late Model with the Pacific Challenge Series. Williams was having a good run before pulling off late with brake failure, finishing 14th.
In addition to racing on his off-weekends with his son Brayden in the QRC Outlaw Karts in Red Bluff, Williams is the hauler driver for Dave Reed Racing with driver Craig Raudman in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series. He is one of Reed’s long-time crew members and is never lacking for telling a humorous story, or being the entertainer in the group.
The Dave Reed Racing and Craig Raudman race shop is located in Anderson, California, just south of Redding. It was an adjoining area in which Williams was defending from the Carr Fire.
“We have a three-year group text going with all the crew guys and we’re are all keeping tabs on Brandon,” Reed commented. “We were reminding him to be safe and letting him know how proud we are of him and his Sunrise Crew’s efforts fighting that monster fire. Brandon’s quick to reply, in his ever so funny ways, that he is just ‘pushing over trees, not getting much sleep, and is really looking forward to a cold Blue Mountain Coors Light, or maybe a few.’”
In the midst of the fire efforts, Williams was quick to confirm Reed’s words.
“I have been doing well, working 18 hour a day for the last 14 days. But the lack of drinking any Coors Light is catching up with me.”
Williams’ next racing event is always dependent on his work schedule, but he would love to participate in the Fall Spectacular at Redwood Acres Raceway (CA) this weekend. The event features a 100-lap race for Super Late Models and is the highlight of season for the facility.
“I would really like to, but I will have to play it by ear. When you are in the construction industry, you have to make hay when the sun shines.”
-Story by Kevin Peters, Speed51.com Southwest Editor
-Photo credit: Paul Kitagaki Jr / Sacramento Bee