IN HIS OWN WORDS: BILL SWEEDLER Meet Bill Sweedler, one of the competitors in the American Le Mans Series' new Challenge class. The 42-year-old will make his second career start in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix next week at Lime...
IN HIS OWN WORDS: BILL SWEEDLER
Meet Bill Sweedler, one of the competitors in the American Le Mans Series' new Challenge class. The 42-year-old will make his second career start in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix next week at Lime Rock Park, his home track. From Westport, Conn., Sweedler has been part of IMSA GT3 competition the last two years and will drive an ORBIT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry with longtime friend and Patron Spirits Company CEO Ed Brown.
Question: Looking back at your Challenge class race in Utah, how do you think it went?
Answer: Ed and I had a great time. We enjoyed the race and we thought it was fantastic that we could drive as teammates in one car.
Q: So you find it easy sharing a car with another driver?
Answer: I'm a lot taller than Ed so other than all the manipulating of the seat, it was a lot fun. We really enjoyed it, to be able to do an endurance event together. More importantly, we're very close friends with Scott Sharp, and we had a great time. The fact that Scott, Ed and I were out on the track at times together, it was just awesome.
Q: Between the Challenge class and the competition in the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, what are the biggest factors that stand out?
A: There are two huge differences. One, the GT3 competition is short sprint races, so you go 101 percent. The races happen very quickly, and the most important thing is qualification. So you have to focus on getting as far toward the front in qualifying as possible. Two, you're racing with all cars that are the same speed and caliber. They're all basically Porsche stock race cars. There's very little difference in setup between ourselves and the other cars that are racing. So a sprint race and the fact that they're all the same car make that race that much different than the American Le Mans Series' Challenge class where you have not only a time difference - being five or six times longer - but more importantly you're racing with four different classes of cars.
Q: Which do you prefer?
A: Each have their inherent challenges. I mean obviously it's fantastic to be out with the drivers that you have in the American Le Mans Series. Certainly that's quite a thrill. Then you have the Patron Challenge race that's just amazingly fun because you know that you're racing against cars that are 99 percent similar, and the only difference is you and the other driver. That's kind of exciting also. You really come to appreciate people that are faster than you, and you aspire to figure out what little nuance they're doing to get themselves around the track faster.
Q: What kind of challenges do you think you're going to see at Lime Rock?
A: Lime Rock is actually my home track, however I have never raced on the new circuit. I've raced numerous times on the old circuit. What I think is based on what I've seen in the new layout; there's more passing opportunities than the old track and clearly there will be tight corners that will add to the thrill in terms of traffic with the American Le Mans Series cars, especially the prototypes. I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of traffic in these tight turns. I would say traffic is going to be a challenge.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. The race is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 18. The race will air live on SPEED. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at Racehub on americanlemans.com. You also can follow the Series on Twitter.
The race also will mark the fifth round of the MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and limerock.com.