FORMER NASCAR DRIVER / MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER
Bill Lester is living history. He is a member of the small group of African-Americans who have raced — and won — in professional motor sports. Bill’s life has played out in reverse of the traditional rags to racecars story. Racing cars was Bill’s second career. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983 (with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science), and began a career with Hewlett-Packard as a software development engineer, writing diagnostic code for workstations and business class server systems. In 1988, he became a research and development manager.
In 1985, Bill began racing in the Sports Car Club of America (San Francisco region) amateur road racing organization. He earned Rookie of the Year in 1985 and Regional Class Champion in 1986. In 1989, he ran his first professional sports car auto race while still working for the Hewlett-Packard Company. Ten years later, he left his career at HP to start a new life. A much faster life. And the rest is history.
Bill’s story is an inspiration to all who know it. His speaking topics include:
Some of Bill’s highlights as a driver include:
- The first African-American in NASCAR history to compete in the second tier Xfinity Series in 1999.
- Competed for the Dodge factory team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2002 and 2003.
- The first African-American to earn a pole position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2003.
- Earned back to back pole positions at two different race tracks in 2005.
- In 2006, he became only the third African-American to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the past 60 years.
- He competed professionally in the NASCAR sanctioned United Sports Car series in 2011, and became the first African-American to win a race. He finished second in championship points that season.
- In 2012, Bill transitioned from racing to working as a special projects consultant for NASCAR, followed by a stint as a motor sports broadcast analyst with NBC Sports in 2014.
Honors and Recognition
- Featured on the cover of General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios boxes from 2003-2004.
- Received the “Trailblazer in Motor Sports” award from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2004.
- Featured on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine in April 2004 and in many magazine and newspaper articles.
- Received the “Breaking New Frontiers” award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 2004.
- Featured in nationally televised NASCAR Camping World Truck Series “Flags” commercial in 2004.
- Received the “Jackie Robinson Award” from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2006.
- Received the “Trailblazer Award” from RYSE Magazine in 2013.
- Received the “Sam Lacy Pioneer Award” from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2013.