Bill Lester makes history with Rolex Series GT victory

Bill Lester, left, and Jordan Taylor celebrate winning the GRAND-AM
Rolex Series' GT class victory on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway.
Credit: GRAND-AM Road Racing
DANVILLE, Va. – Bill Lester became the first African American to win a GRAND-AM Road Racing event on Saturday, teaming with Jordan Taylor to take the Rolex Series’ GT class victory in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.

Adding to the moment: the victory came in Danville, Va., the hometown of auto racing pioneer Wendell Scott, the only African-American to win a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I’m sure that the Scott family would be happy about what I was able to accomplish,” Lester said. “I actually spent some time at the Scott residence in Danville and saw Wendell’s old garage and sat in one of his race cars. It was quite an honor for me. They might not necessarily have seen the race, but hopefully they get word of it.”

Lester’s win was part of an eventful day for the Rolex Series, which came into existence in 2000. The Action Express Racing trio of Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and JC France co-drove a Porsche/Riley to the overall and Daytona Prototype class victory, ending the six-race win streak of reigning series champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas from Chip Ganassi Racing. In the process, Action Express collected a special $25,000 “bounty” available to any team stopping the Pruett-Rojas win streak.

Lester and Taylor co-drove the Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to the monumental win in the Rolex Series’ class for production-based machines. In addition to Lester’s milestone, it also marked the first GRAND-AM win for both the Autohaus organization and Taylor.

“We’re ecstatic,” Lester said. “Everything came together for us. We knew at the beginning of the season that this team had a lot of potential.

“I was actually fortunate enough to help induct Wendell Scott into the National Sports Hall of Fame. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been influenced by him. Even though this is a different type of racing, the fact of the matter is that I’m glad that I was able to represent for minorities, basically, across the board.

“But that’s not what I’m all about. The fact is that I’m just really proud that everything was able to come together. We’ve shown flashes of brilliance and this time we were able to put a dot over the ‘i’.”

Lester has raced in the top levels of NASCAR. In 1999, Lester became the first African American to run a Nationwide Series race, his single series start. He made his Camping World Truck Series debut in 2000 and competed in the series through 2007. Lester's best finishes were a pair of fifth-place efforts in the 2005 Truck Series season. Lester's Sprint Cup debut came in 2006 when he qualified for the spring Atlanta race; in making the race, he became the first African American to compete in a Cup event since 1986. He made one other Cup start that year.
Bill Lester makes history with Rolex Series GT victory Bill Lester makes history with Rolex Series GT victory Reviewed by Admin on Monday, May 16, 2011 Rating: 5