Chronic tendinitis, fatigue, and joint pain forced what felt to a young Dan Williams into a markedly premature retirement from the U.S. Nordic Combined ski team. Undeterred by the pain of dreams faded and goals left unfinished, he immersed himself in the study of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Said Williams:
It became apparent to me early that I had considerably more talent for scholastics than Nordic skiing! Putting to use this talent with the work ethic I learned from skiing, I attained top grades and moved on to the University of Colorado school of medicine. The next eight years were completely dedicated to the study of medicine together with my wife Wendy. We studied intensely and enjoyed these years. However, much to my dismay, my tendons and joints were not improving. They were getting worse.
The next few years we worked hard at our medical practice and began raising three daughters, Emily, Anneka, and Abigail. Completely immersed in my work, I did not notice how far my health had declined until one evening I turned to Wendy and said, "Honey, I can't do the mail anymore. It hurts way too much to open all the envelopes." No sooner had the words left my mouth when the pain hit me. My grandmother, who was sharp as a whip until one week before her death at age 104, always said, "life begins at 40." Well, here I was 42 and I was going to miss all of it! Later I would be diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis.
Good fortune found me less than a week later when a friend asked me to join him in a car race where they drive junk cars around and wear costumes. I thought this could be fun. After all how hard could it be to sit in a car and drive it around? Not being one to enter a new hobby uninformed, I bought Skip Barber's Going Faster and read it cover to cover before ever going to the track. Wow! Driving line, break points, slip angle, friction circle, heel and toe, camber, ride height, etc etc.. This car racing thing I knew immediately was going to become very interesting indeed.
The last four years have been a fantastic journey in the study physics and engineering, pushing psychological boundaries, intense competition, and most importantly deep friendships formed and strengthened through one of the best sports on Earth. Auto racing! It is my hope to show people that even though it may take tenacious spirit and plenty of hard work, life can in fact not only begin at forty but also illness does not need to stand in the way. In addition, it is important to me to raise awareness for autoimmune disease and arthritis
Williams lists both Ken Miles and Kenton Koch as his racing heroes for their insatiable appetite for understanding the physics and engineering behind racing as well as winning races.
Previously: First race: High Plains Raceway, 24 hours of Lemons, 2011, Toyota MR-2, finished 12th place. NASA club racing 2011-present. Skip Barber winter series 2014-2015. 1st place in NASA coastal championships in 2014 and 2015 Spec 944. 1st place 25 hours of Thunder Hill E2 class, 2013