Dion “Rocko” Williams has made a name for himself on pit road for more than 13 years. Now he is making a name for himself on air.
Williams made his debut as co-host of Motor Racing Network’s Crew Call last week, using his experience in the sport to help provide insight into the lives of top tier pit crew members both on and off the track.
Any butterflies that were present during the first few seconds of his first live show on MRN were gone by the first commercial break, he said, much like the nerves felt during each race until the first pit stop is out of the way.
The weekly show with co-host Sammi Jo Francis is just the latest endeavor in motorsports for Williams, whose pit crew career has included stints with Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Petty Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. His success in the sport, including 16 Cup series wins, created a desire in Williams to be involved in the sport long term.
“I really love what I do,” Williams said. “I really love the sport and you can really see that in the way that I talk about it. That’s ultimately what led me to what I’m doing now in terms of broadcasting.”
While Williams’ athletic background as a collegiate and professional football player helped lay the foundation for his pit crew career, his past has also prepared him for his newest role.
Williams graduated from Wake Forest University, majoring in communications, and later attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting to keep up-to-date with new technology and trends in the field.
Over the years he has taken on speaking engagements, emcee roles and even appeared on Under Cover Boss, but Williams hopes this is just the beginning. He has ambitions of one day calling races and working on the competition side of things.
Between shows Williams can still be found on pit road, working as a contracted pit crewman and serving as a mentor for young pit crew members through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program.
“It’s necessary for me,” Williams said. “It keeps me relevant and engaged with rule changes and new strategies, new techniques and what’s going on with the sport, as it’s constantly changing.”
Coming up at NOON ET it’s the Season Debut of MRN Crew Call presented by @HerculesTires with our new hosts @SammiOnAir and @DionRocko! Watch on https://t.co/5I6uCnfmiN or Facebook Live #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/Vecbyw1Ljr
— Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) February 21, 2018
Williams made history as the first African-American to go over the wall for Hendrick Motorsports. He has seen the growth of NASCAR’s diversity initiatives over the years and notes the visible transformation both on and off the track. He hopes his success will serve as an example of the opportunity for longevity and transition within the sport.
“The focus has really turned to showing the guys that once they are in (NASCAR) there are so many other opportunities in the sport for minorities to focus on besides the athletic side of it,” Williams said. “There are opportunities within the sport to make a great career and living on so many different levels besides just pitting a race car. That’s the main thing that motivates me.”
Tune into Crew Call Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET on MRN.