ENCORE LEGENDS: THE SERIES - THE LEGEND OF BILLY MEYER
Forget any preconceptions you might have had about Billy Meyer, the Hall of Fame Funny Car driver, developer of the game-changing Texas Motorplex and one-time owner of the IHRA. In this episode of Legends: The Series, producer/director Bobby Bennett cuts through the brash, bold façade that was the talented Texan’s alter ego to reveal a thoughtful visionary whose impact on the sport has been immeasurable.
From fielding one of the first 18-wheel support rigs to introducing myriad new corporate sponsors through previously untapped B2B relationships to building a racetrack that set a new standard for the sport at almost every level, Meyer’s fingerprints are all over the straight-line landscape.
Growing up in a household in which failure was not an option, he was the youngest son of motivational entrepreneur Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, who early-on taught him the value of goal setting, focus and hard work.
He was introduced to drag racing by friend Grover Rogers, who at the time was dividing his time between a go-kart he raced as a teammate to Meyer and a drag racing Funny Car sponsored by Steakley Brothers Chevrolet. When Rogers suffered an injury that sidelined him for six months, he gave Meyer the opportunity of a lifetime as his replacement. Licensed at 16, he bought Rogers’ half of the Funny Car team two years later and, in only his second race as owner/driver, won the prestigious Manufacturers Funny Car Championship at Orange County International Raceway in California.
He would go on to win 12 races in 112 starts on the NHRA tour including the 1982 U.S. Nationals and would win another eight races on the IHRA circuit, five times prevailing in that sanction’s signature Spring Nationals. However, by 1986 he had become consumed with the concept, design and construction of the Motorplex, the first major drag racing facility bult in the U.S. in more than 15 years. Upon competition, it elevated the sport at every level – from its all-concrete post-tension racing surface to two levels of corporate suites to spectator amenities including more bathrooms at the time than there were at Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Through the successes and the failures, including a couple of near-death experiences, Meyer was guided by his father’s corporate mantra: “whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe in and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”
“He wrote it and that’s the way he raised me and my two brothers,” Meyer said. “In other words, ‘dream big and don’t give mental recognition to the possibility of defeat.’”
It’s how Meyer has lived his life. It’s how he still lives it. Enjoy the ride.