Sweedler makes his car-racing dream come true
Updated 8:04 pm, Thursday, August 4, 2011
Every child dreams of being a race car driver, the seemingly unattainable profession of driving really, really fast.
Westporter Bill Sweedler lives that dream.
At the Northeast Grand Prix in the American Le Mans Series on July 9 at Lime Rock Park, Sweedler placed third at the bull-ring of a track.
However, the podium was bittersweet for Sweedler because after successfully driving to lead his class in several laps, the car crashed and the front splitter had to be replaced in the pits.
"Unfortunately we were hit during the race by a faster class car, a prototype, that ripped our front splitter, which really affected the handling of the car," Sweedler said. "It was bittersweet because if that hadn't happened we feel we could have won the race. But any time we're on the podium, it's a good thing."
Sweedler has yet to attain his elusive first victory in the American Le Mans Series, he has reached the podium several times, but is still awaiting the win. The Northeast Grand Prix would have made his first win additionally special because of its proximity to home.
"The Northeast Grand Prix is the closest thing to a home event that I have. I love Lime Rock," Sweedler said.
Sweedler took a rather unorthodox path to the professional racetrack. Despite having an interest in driving from a young age, he didn't begin racing until he was older, after he'd established a career in the business world.
"I had wanted to do it since a young age, but my parents when I was young wouldn't support that expensive of a hobby," Sweedler said. "It wasn't until I could afford cars and when I went through the Skip Barber Racing School, that's when I developed a love for it."
Expensive it certainly is. Sweedler drives a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. In the past few years, Sweedler has attracted sponsors to help subsidize the expense of racing. Sweedler drives for Alex Job Racing, which Sweedler says is a great opportunity.
"Alex is probably the all-time winningest team owner in the American Le Mans Series, he's won it three times. He's won Sebring seven times. Those are all prestigious endurance races. He has an incredible team and guys that work with him. I'm lucky to be a part of it," Sweedler said.
Sweedler and his team will head to Lexington, Ohio to tackle the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge Sunday. It's on ESPN 2 at 10 p.m.
"My teammate and I both have success at Mid-Ohio so we have some good vibes on this one. We think we can win this race," Sweedler said.