Bill Lester on Saturday became the first black driver to win a Grand-Am Road Racing event. He teamed with Jordan Taylor to take the Rolex Series’ GT class in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.
Adding to the moment: The victory came in the hometown of Wendell Scott, the only black driver 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 began 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 of 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 win the Rolex Series’ class for production-based machines. In addition to Lester’s milestone, it also marked the first Grand-Am win for 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’.”
The bulk of Lester’s NASCAR career was in the Camping World Truck Series, where he made 142 starts from 2000-07. His best finish was fifth, which he achieved twice in 2005, when he won two of this three career poles. He also made one start in the Nationwide Series (1999) and two in the Sprint Cup Series (2006). He has made 42 starts in NASCAR’s Grand-Am Series.