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Bellevue West student races on Daytona International Speedway

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Johnathan Williams, sophomore at Bellevue West High School, got to race in the Ignite Senior Margay category at the Daytona Speedway as part of KartWeek. He placed fourth in the category. His Grandpa John and father Jarrod drove him down to Daytona and were his pit crew.

The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s premier event, attracting millions of viewers each year.

Thousands of famous drivers have made their livelihood based on their performance on the Daytona Speedway.

Jonathan Williams, a sophomore at Bellevue West High School, got a taste of the Daytona experience when he raced his Margay kart on the Daytona Speedway.

Williams’ experience was during KartWeek, an event organized by the World Karting Association.

Williams said KartWeek consists of a week where racers go down and race at several big tracks around the nation. For example, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona.

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Johnathan Williams also races a LO206 cage kart from May to August at Sunset Speedway in Omaha for dirt races.

Williams’ interest in the sport of karting began about two years ago near the start of the pandemic.

“I had been watching Formula One and NASCAR and really getting into it,” Williams said.

In his kart, Williams reached a top speed of 74.7 miles per hour and drove around 30-40 miles per hour for the corner sections at Daytona.

Williams said he raced roughly 98 drivers at the same time while at Daytona, with there being several different classes of karts at the event.

Williams raced in the Ignite Senior Margay category and placed fourth.

The trip from Bellevue to Florida was a long one. Williams and his father chose to drive down to the iconic speedway.

“When I got there, it was like a dream come true,” he said. “We went under the little bridge under the track to get into the infield, and then you look up and you see the banking and it was like a dream come true knowing that I was going to race on the actual track.”

Williams has eyes on eventually making it big on the racing scene.

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Johnathan Williams puts on several layers of protection when racing his Margay kart. His Margay kart, pictured here, is used for on-road races such as the one in Daytona.

“Obviously, you got to start small. As of now, it is a little side hobby, but I really am getting into it and, like, meeting a lot of good drivers that go all around the nation and compete in the biggest events,” he said.

Williams is registered for next year’s Daytona event and said he looks forward to it.

Melissa Fish-Williams, Williams’ mother, said it was exciting for her son to race on a track where so many famous racers have been on.

“I actually had to stay home in Nebraska with his brothers, but my husband got to go down to that, I mean, just thinking about it, it’s such a huge experience,” she said.

In kart racing season, Williams races his Margay kart for on-road racing and a LO206 cage kart for dirt racing.

Williams will race on dirt with his LO206 kart at the Sunset Speedway on Thursdays from May to August.

Williams plans to travel with his Margay kart to Charlotte in March and Indiana in May, among several other locations.

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