California Car Owner Morrie Williams, 85

The famed More Williams No. 0 sprint car. (Joe Shivak photo)
The famed Morrie Williams No. 0 sprint car. (Joe Shivak photo)

Morrie Williams, owner of the iconic number No. 0 sprint car and a veteran of six decades of racing on the West Coast, has died at the age of 85.

Williams died early Sept. 11 after a long battle with cancer.

His distinctive white Morrie Williams Motorsports/Alviso Rock/AV Solutions/Williams Roofing Maxim emblazoned with a red “0” was a fixture and consistent winner in the King of the West/Fujitsu sprint car series where he won four championships, the most recent in 2017 with driver Bud Kaeding.

“I’ve been fortunate to be part of Williams Motorsports for the past six and a half years and they have made me feel like family since day one,” said Kaeding.

Three of Williams’ championships were with driver Jonathan Allard (2006, ’08, ’12), while other notable drivers who had seat time with Williams over the years included Greg DeCaires, Jimmy Carr, Dennis Moore and Peter Murphy.

Morrie Williams (left) and Bud Kaeding. (M&M photo)
Morrie Williams (left) and Bud Kaeding. (M&M photo)

“He helped a lot of people get ahead in this sport, including mechanics,” noted Ashley Smith, his son-in-law and former crew chief of Williams Motorsports. “He was an incredible man but very humble about his accomplishments,” he said of Williams, who was soft-spoken and often preferred to stay in the background and allow his drivers and crew members to claim the spotlight.

Williams got his start in motorsports as a driver in the 1960s, racing a winged supermodified he built with his father at tracks in California’s San Joaquin Valley, such as Madera Speedway and Kearney Bowl, near Fresno and his home in the Sierra foothill town of Coarsegold.

By the mid-1980’s he was a car owner in the Northern Auto Racing Club/KWS series and for many years travelled from the West Coast to compete at the Knoxville Nationals.

Despite being physically limited by his illness, Williams consistently joined his race team at the track until about four weeks ago and his passion for motorsports continued beyond that.

“He was watching DirtVision over the last weeks,” noted Smith, including Kaeding’s most recent win when he dominated all 30 laps during the KWS Championship Classic at Stockton’s dirt track in late August.

A celebration of life ceremony is scheduled for Williams on Oct. 11 at the Oakhurst Community Center in the Sierra foothills town of Oakhurst, east of Fresno.