Central Pennsylvania car-owner John Trone has gone in a variety of different directions when picking a driver to be the face of his Sprint Car team over the years.
There have been locals and guys from outside the area. Regardless of the geography, the goal was always to try and pick the driver who had the best chance to park his car in Victory Lane.
Things haven’t always gone as planned. In fact, it’s been a little bit of a struggle of late, which has Trone adjusting and taking a different approach to his team heading into the 2024 season.
How different? Well, Trone is going outside of the North American continent by hiring New Zealand talent Callum Williamson to compete in central Pennsylvania and tackle some big events over the summer months.
“I was watching the race from Australia between [Callum], Brad Sweet, and Rico Abreu, and they were battling it out,” Trone said. “I thought, ‘Man, this guy is a gasser.’ I saw him run around the top, and I thought he would do well at Port Royal.
“Kevin [Frey] said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘What do you mean? What are you going to do … call him?’ Kevin talked to him a few times, and then we had a three-way chat. He seemed like an easy enough guy to work with.”
Continued Trone, “I didn’t have anybody around here that I felt comfortable putting in my car who was capable of winning more than one race or two. It was time for a change, so Kevin made the arrangements, they gave us a schedule, and we agreed to it.”
This will not be a full season of work for the Callum-Trone combination … at least not yet. The 30-year-old driver acquired a three-month Visa and will enter the states in time to run the first race in May.
After that, Williamson, who turned heads in the United States with his run at the Perth Motorplex this year, will tackle the tough central Pennsylvania scene before competing in high-profile events like the Kings Royal and Knoxville Nationals.
“He has some races to finish over there, and then he has some things to take care of before he comes over,” said Frey, who is the crew chief for the John Trone team. “He’s got everything in place now to make it a self-run business, and he can get a three-month Visa.
“Callum can stay through the end of the Kings Royal weekend. Then, he has to go back for a week and can come back for us to do Knoxville. We are going to run the Outlaw and High Limit races here and the High Limit races in New York.
“Lynton Jeffrey told us about this guy a couple of years ago and said he is really good. We showed him our whole schedule … every race in Pennsylvania. They agreed to it, and we are ready to go.”
No doubt there will be some adjustment for Williamson, who has excelled at Perth, an action-packed third-mile track. The only track in Central PA that mirrors what he sees in Australia is Grandview Speedway.
But Williamson should like Port Royal Speedway. He likes to run the fence, which is advantageous around the Speed Palace. Lincoln also could be in his wheelhouse, and BAPS Motor Speedway is a configuration that seems to interest him.
“We will have to wait and see how things pan out,” Trone said. “It could be great, and it could be not-so-great. Who knows? We are going to give it our best shot and hopefully get the car to the front.
“It could be interesting. He’s not afraid to run up against the wall; I think he will be good at Port and Selinsgrove. Williams Grove is always trouble for people coming in new. I wish he was here a month earlier so we could get more practice before the Outlaws come here.”
Trone indicated that there could be another driver in the car to shake it down before Williamson enters the country. As for the end of the season, the long-time owner hasn’t ruled out filling the seat with another driver at the end of the season.
But it won’t be at the expense of Williamson. And if things work out and both sides like the direction of the team, you could see this combination more in the future.
“We talked a few times, and his dad said, ‘We want to make this long term, and we want to run good enough that you guys want us back,’” Frey said. “That is where we are at, and we are looking forward to it.”