Chandler, AZ (December 1, 1999) -- Bill Lester, the top participant in CART's African-American Driver Development Program, successfully completed a full day of on-track evaluation with Team KOOL Green's Indy Lights team at Firebird International...
Chandler, AZ (December 1, 1999) -- Bill Lester, the top participant in CART's African-American Driver Development Program, successfully completed a full day of on-track evaluation with Team KOOL Green's Indy Lights team at Firebird International Raceway today. Lester completed 148 laps (185 miles) around the 1.25-mile Firebird East road course, setting a fast time of 53.29 seconds.
"I got adjusted to the car very quickly this morning, then my times kind of levelled off." Lester said. "After that it was just a matter of working on a couple of key areas around the track, which is what we worked on most of the day. Although I didn't get quite on top of Jonny Kane's times (TKG's regular Indy Lights driver), I know where it is that I need to be faster. It's just going to take more experience. But overall, I'm very pleased with how I did."
"I just hope this opens the door to more opportunities. Needless to say, I'd love a ride in a CART series. But it's kind of out of my hands. All I can do is put my best foot forward and hope that I continue to be blessed. It's been a very long and trying road to get to this point."
"For a guy who had started this morning having only driven an open-wheel car (Atlantic) for half a day, Bill did an extremely good job," said Lou Schollum, TKG Indy Lights Team Manager. "He settled into the car this morning and got comfortable, then just went faster and faster all day. He made good use of new tires when we gave them to him and he made very few mistakes. But mistakes are a natural part of trying to go fast. His fitness level certainly helped him achieve a lot more laps (148) than we'd initially planned (90)."
Today's test does not offer any guarantee of a ride in a CART series, but it provides a full evaluation of Lester's ability, which he can use in an attempt to further his open-wheel racing career.
Lester earned the right to test with the TKG Indy Lights team after he demonstrated significant ability during a similar on-track evaluation with the PPI Toyota Atlantic team in late October. Lester, of Oakland, Calif., was joined in the Atlantic test by David Francis Jr. of Los Angeles, Calif. and Andrew Kelley of Columbus, Ohio.
CART's African-American Driver Development Program is designed to create opportunities to identify African-American race car drivers who may have the potential to climb the ladder of development in CART's three open-wheel racing series.
Andrew Craig, chairman and CEO of CART announced the program at the inaugural Rainbow Sports national sports conference on July 1. Rainbow Sports, which was founded by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., has defined its mission as challenging the sports industry to develop specific standards and practices to facilitate inclusion, expansion and opportunity for minorities.