Oct 27, 2019
Ep. 244: Before becoming a professional race car driver, Bill Lester spent 15 years working as a computer scientist and project manager in Silicon Valley for Hewlett-Packard. After embarking on a full-time racing career, Lester competed in NASCAR and IMSA, two of America’s most prestigious racing series. He won over $2 million in purse money, drove a total of 30,162 laps in competition, earned six podium finishes and one victory during his 10 full seasons.
In 2006, Lester became the first African American driver in 20 years to compete in NASCAR’S premier Cup Series. It would be another 11 years before another African American driver, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, would compete again in the Cup ranks. Among Lester’s other credits are initial professional races in the SCCA Trans-Am Series and IMSA Series. In 1999, he won the CART African American Driver Development Program tryout and, as a result, successfully tested an Indy Lights car with Team Kool Green. In 2012, he completed his racing career by earning a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals of international karting competition in Portimao, Portugal proudly representing Team USA.
During his five seasons of participation in the NASCAR Truck Series, NASCAR featured Lester in a TV ad promoting the series on the Speed Channel. In 2003 and 2004, General Mills featured Lester on Honey Nut Cheerios collector edition cereal boxes. Lester appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise in April of 2004. Feature articles about Lester also appeared in USA Today and The New York Times as well as Car and Driver magazine, among others.
Bill Lester has received various awards including: “Breaking New Frontiers” award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 2004; “Trailblazer in Motor Sports” award from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2004, “Jackie Robinson Award” from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2006; “Trailblazer Award” from RYSE Magazine in 2013; and the “Sam Lacy Pioneer Award” from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2013.
Lester’s TV work began in 2003 with a two-year stint as a broadcast analyst for the Fox Sports South show “Around the Track”. In 2014, he also worked as a Broadcast Analyst for the NBC Sports show “NASCAR America.” Bill Lester is available for celebrity speaking engagements through Bruce Merrin’s Celebrity Speakers, NOPACT Talent, Executive Speakers Bureau and Great Black speakers. Bill Lester retired from professional racing in 2007.
For more on Bill Lester, please check out his website: http://www.billlester.com/
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Intro and Outro Music is Funkorama by Kevin MacLeod
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