Starting as a driver in the K&N Pro Series West, back then the Winston West Series, Bill McAnally drove his first race in 1991. He now owns and operates a multi-car race team – Bill McAnally Racing – that has become a top driver development team for Toyota and stepping stone for drivers going to the higher levels of NASCAR.
Still a mainstay in the West Series, over the last several years, BMR has been bringing cars and drivers to the East Series races as well, a couple of them contending to win both championships.
“Well, back when we were developing, Cole Custer was the first year we started doing it,” says Bill McAnally referring to bringing some of his teams to the K&N Pro Series East races. “It just gives the young drivers more development on some great race tracks. I mean being able to take them to Bristol and Loudon, here at Memphis. Some great race tracks to give these kids some experience as they’re developing and trying to move their careers forward.”
One of those drivers is Todd Gilliland, now driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Gilliland drove for BMR in 2016 and 17, winning back-to-back West titles and almost capturing the East title in 2017 as well. This weekend he returns to BMR at Memphis driving the No. 19 machine and reflects on what the experience and team mean to him and the development of drivers in general.
“I think just really good leadership and surrounding the drivers with the people they need,” says Todd Gilliland. “Obviously coming here and having confidence in your team members, that’s what it’s all about. Unloading fast…that’s what its all about, is building your team, making them stronger week in and week out. Like I said, the great leadership from Bill (McAnally)”
The current driver of the infamous #16 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Records Toyota is Derek Kraus who leads both the East and West point standings coming into Saturday’s K&N East Memphis 150 Presented by AutoZone at Memphis International Raceway. He is aware of the points situation but isn’t hard focused on them with each race as they come up. Kraus has also earned himself some starts at the upper levels, having made two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series already.
“I think it’s pretty much race by race,” says Derek Kraus. “You’ve got to have focus on one race at a time, you can’t be looking forward to a different race. You’ve got to focus on one race and then have a good finish in that one race and the points will do what they need to do”
The newcomer to the team this year is 20-year old late model driver Brittany Zamora. She is keeping her expectations in check as she realizes the step-up she has made in the stock car progression ladder.
“It’s been good so far this year,” says Brittany Zamora. “Its a big transition going from super late models to K&N cars. Think we’ve been doing alright, this weekend has been a little bit tough. Been getting a little bit of help from Derek and Todd and hopefully, we can show that in the race”
The caliber of drivers and champions this team has already produced and has in its pipeline is nothing short of amazing. The leadership of Bill McAnally makes everyone willing to put in the miles between the East and the West on the highway, as well as on the track to see talent evolve and mature, both as drivers and mentors.