By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Bill Lester quit his job as a Research and Development Project Manager for the Hewlett-Packard company to become a full time race car driver. He's happy to report he's "not looking back." This will be ...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Bill Lester quit his job as a Research and Development Project Manager for the Hewlett-Packard company to become a full time race car driver. He's happy to report he's "not looking back."
This will be Lester's fourth consecutive appearance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He will drive the No. 44 Team Amick Motorsports Corvette in the AGT class with co-drivers Joe Varde, NASCAR driver Lyndon Amick and his brother David Amick.
In Lester's first Rolex 24, he earned a fifth place finish in GT2 driving a Mazda. One year later, in 1999, he scored another top-ten finish in class, behind the wheel of a GT3 Porsche. Last year he failed to finish after suffering mechanical problems in the Specter Werkes Corvette.
Lester has tested a Toyota Atlantic car for Cal Well's PPI team. He has also tested a Team Kool Green Indy Lights car, but for now, he's found a good opportunity in sports car racing.
In the two-hour Grand Am Cup race held Friday afternoon at Daytona, a support race to the Rolex 24, Lester finished third driving the No. 37 Phoenix American Motorsports Corvette after starting from the back of the pack.
"The last two days, for me, have been very eventful," said Lester. "The first time I got into the Corvette was this morning. I thought it was going to be after John (Heinricy) started the car. They made a last minute decision this morning to have John bat clean up, and me start the car. As a result of some complications yesterday I didn't get any seat time in the car."
"It was a huge thrash," said Lester regarding his run from the back of the pack. "I didn't know, until right before the cars were sent out to pre-grid, that I was going to be starting the car. I had every expectation that I was going to be doing the second stint. I had to immediately shift my mindset to get into racer mode."
"It was pretty eventful to jump in at the last minute, start out at the back of the pack and work your way forward. We did that pretty successfully, I think we turned the car over to John in fifth."
Heinricy drove the car into the lead but a cut tire forced the No. 37 Corvette to the pits for a replacement.
"We were right back in fifth" after the pit stop, said Lester, "then we got back out there and scraped back up to third place."
Not bad for driver that, one month ago, didn't have a ride in the Grand Am Cup or the Rolex 24.
"I came here for test days with my helmet bag and nothing lined up. I was hoping to get a few laps in the Varde Amick car, but that didn't happen when they suffered a little motor problem."
When a test at Daytona didn't work out, the team took the car to the Carolina Motorsports Park to give Lester an opportunity to test. "We took the car to the Carolina Motorsports Park, I hopped into it and they were pleased with how I did and so far, so good," said Lester with a smile.
"Let's just hope I'm smiling on Sunday"