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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bill Lester Returns to his Roots for 08

Racing season is upon us once again. NASCAR’s crews and drivers in each of its divisions have begun testing at Daytona.

Racing season is upon us once again. NASCAR’s crews and drivers in each of its divisions have begun testing at Daytona. However, this may be exciting for some observers, but hardcore fans long for real racing. The Rolex 24 at Daytona is a delectable appetizer for hungry race fans. Each year more and more of NASCAR and open wheeled stars tangle with some of the best endurance racing drivers in the world in one of the most prestigious tests of man and machine.

The entry list for past 24 hour races at Daytona read like a who’s who of NASCAR champions. There was Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Bobby Labonte. Seeing those drivers out of their element and behind the wheel of a different sort of racing machine is a testament to the caliber of driver in NASCAR. A name that deserves to be mentioned in NASCAR circles but never had top-flight equipment is Bill Lester.

Bill Lester honed his craft behind the wheel of sports cars for years before making a splash in the Craftsman Truck Series. He was able to make history in NASCAR several seasons ago when he became the first African- American to qualify for a race in NASCAR’s premiere series at Atlanta. Lester also became the first African- American to surpass $1 million in career earnings. Things seemed to be progressing in the truck series for Lester after landing rides with Bobby Hamilton Racing and Bill Davis Racing. Then suddenly, Bill Lester was gone.

Bill Lester fans fear not. He will be back in a racecar at Daytona January 26th for the Rolex 24. We have grown accustomed to seeing Lester race at Daytona, but in a truck. For those that have not seen him drive a sports car, prepare to be dazzled. Some may doubt his talent because he never won a race in the trucks, but he is a very talented driver.

Unfortunately, black drivers have been forced to spend their best years in other series hidden away from racing’s mainstream. Bill Lester has signed to race the full Grand Am schedule for 2008. A strong showing in the 24 at Daytona as well as a solid season may land Lester in several NASCAR events this year. I hope so!

Lester Riley- Scott Lexus photo courtesy of Brian Cleary and Grand- Am Racing

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