Spotting A Great Opportunity

February 8, 2021

"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

Often, the highest point at any racetrack throughout the land is where you will find a very valuable part of every race team – the spotter. As most people in the position will tell you, the job is a lot more than just getting a good view of the track and talking to the driver in the car. Spotters must know what is happening behind, around and in front of their car and their driver so they can be in constant communication, providing their team the best opportunity to win. It is an important role on a race team and one that takes years to master.

The journey to the top (literally) is usually different for everyone, but especially for Josh Williams, the spotter for Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Ford Mustang team. The spotter’s perch high above the track is often filled with former drivers who know what it’s like behind the wheel, but rarely do you find a former professional golfer there. Yet, that’s part of the background Williams brings to the team, along with a different perspective.

A native of Martinsville, Virginia, Williams grew up near the famed Martinsville Speedway, where his grandfather was the General Manger of the track and his parents worked for Dale Earnhardt Sr. While the young Williams enjoyed being at the speedway, hanging out with his parents and helping out in the merchandise and souvenir haulers, it wasn’t until he was older that he even considered the idea of being a spotter. And that concept came after Williams realized the commitment and dedication needed to excel at a any sport.

When he was in middle school, Williams began playing golf with his friends after school almost daily. He had seen his dad and cousins play a lot of golf growing up, so he was naturally drawn to the game. With the regular routine of playing, Williams began to hone his skill and really developed a passion for golf. Like many other aspiring golfers at that time, Williams began following Tiger Woods and the star golfer became his idol. Wood’s accomplishments served as an inspiration to Williams who continued to refine his game. In 2006, when Williams was a senior in high school, he won the Virginia State Championship in golf and he decided to turn pro that summer.

Much like professional motorsports, making it to the top levels of pro golf is extremely challenging. Williams began competing in mini tours, including the EGolf Tour and the Carolina Pro Golf Tour. He won nine events and in what Williams called “perhaps the biggest win of my pro golf career,” he captured the Carolina Tour Championship in 2006. He went on to compete in two tournaments, which is golf’s equivalent to NASCAR racing’s Xfinity Series. Despite his talent on the links, the jump to the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tour was a huge one and that opportunity never presented itself to Williams.

With his background working in the NASCAR industry, Williams started giving golf lessons to some series drivers. “Scott Speed and I became good friends. When the golf career was kind of getting stale, he asked me to start spotting for him as a way for me to travel and go play golf on Saturdays after practice when we were not at the track,” said Williams. The opportunity with Speed in 2011 marked the beginning of Williams’ spotting career. After he worked with Speed through 2013, Williams met AJ Allmendinger and began serving as the spotter for the former Team Penske driver in 2014. William’s first win as a spotter came with Allmendinger’s NCS victory at Watkins Glen in 2014.


In 2015, Williams started spotting for Blaney and the two have worked together during Blaney’s time competing for Wood Brothers Racing, Brad Keselowski Racing and Team Penske. Through a friendship that began with his family’s racing roots, Williams opened new doors by teaching the sport he loved, and he’s turned it into a career that he never would have dreamed of.

So, what are the similarities and parallels between being a professional golfer and a NASCAR spotter? “I think the main thing I’ve learned from playing pro golf and what I carry over to spotting in NASCAR, is the work ethic. How much time it takes to be successful at your craft and how to unplug and get away from it when you need to. Another thing is the mental side. I am fairly calm on the radio and I think that comes from golf and understanding my performance back then was at its best when I had control of my emotions and being on a pretty even keel. Both sports are unique in that you lose a lot more than you win. So while we all want to be perfect and win every time out, your overall performance is based a lot on maximizing the bad days.”

Williams admits that he misses the competitiveness of pro golf, but he knows that part of his life is in the rearview mirror. He enjoys playing casual golf with his friends now and he continues to help aspiring golfers fine tune their swings. These days, Williams understands the best drives are the ones that happen on track and he is an important part of a team effort to win from high above the racing action.

“As much as I miss professional golf, my passion from day one has been racing and I will stick to dogleg lefts on Sunday afternoons, watching that No. 12 car.”

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