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Bill Lester Biography

Bill Lester is an author, keynote speaker, and a former NASCAR driver. He earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984. Before becoming a professional race car driver, he spent 15 years working as a computer scientist and project manager in Silicon Valley for Hewlett-Packard. He has raced in the SCCA Trans-Am Series, IMSA Series, NASCAR Truck series and is one of only three African American drivers to ever race in NASCAR’S premier Cup Series. Lester worked as a broadcast analyst for the Fox Sports South show, “Around the Track” and the NBC Sports show, “NASCAR America.” His memoir "Winning in Reverse: Defying the Odds and Achieving Dreams—The Bill Lester Story," which was published by Pegasus Books in February 2021, is the dramatic story of one of the most well-known NASCAR drivers in history—and a pioneer whose determination and spirit has paved the way for a new generation of racers.

Bill Lester is a graduate of the Bill Gove Speech Workshop, which is an extensive, week-long public speaker and corporate presentation training program where he learned how to create vignettes and deliver his message in an impactful and entertaining way to become an effective keynote. He is a poised and professional speaker who been interviewed countless times throughout his career and has featured on CNN, NPR, GMA3, The New York Times, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, CTV News, Car and Driver Magazine, AutoWeek, Black Enterprise, Black News Channel, We Buy Black, Mass Live, Sports Business Daily, The Undefeated, Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Times, and many more. During his five seasons of participation in the NASCAR Truck Series, NASCAR featured Lester in a TV ad promoting the series on the Speed Channel. In 2003 and 2004, General Mills featured Lester on Honey Nut Cheerios collector edition cereal boxes. Lester appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise in April of 2004.

Bill Lester competed in NASCAR and IMSA, two of America’s most prestigious racing series. He won over $2 million in purse money, drove a total of 30,162 laps in competition, earned six podium finishes and one victory during his 10 full seasons. In 2006, Lester became the first African American driver in 20 years to compete in NASCAR’S premier Cup Series. It would be another 11 years before another African American driver, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, would compete again in the Cup ranks. Among Lester’s other credits are initial professional races in the SCCA Trans-Am Series and IMSA Series. In 1999, he won the CART African American Driver Development Program tryout and, as a result, successfully tested an Indy Lights car with Team Kool Green. In 2012, he earned a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals of international karting competition in Portimao, Portugal proudly representing Team USA. Lester “retired” shortly after, but he made a triumphant return in March of 2021 when at the age of 60 years old, he raced in NASCAR’s Truck Series at the Atlanta Motor speedway to support diversity efforts within NASCAR and promote his memoir.

Bill Lester has received various awards including: “Breaking New Frontiers” award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 2004; “Trailblazer in Motor Sports” award from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2004, “Jackie Robinson Award” from the Rainbow/PUSH organization in 2006; “Trailblazer Award” from RYSE Magazine in 2013; and the “Sam Lacy Pioneer Award” from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2013.

"Winning in Reverse: Defying the Odds and Achieving Dreams—The Bill Lester Story," tells the story of Lester’s love for racing, which eventually compelled him to take a huge risk, leaving a lucrative career as an engineer to pursue racing full time. Lester had a trifecta of odds against him: he was black, he was middle-aged, and he wasn’t a southerner. Lester rose above it all, as did his rankings, and he made history time and time again.

Acquiring the right set of values and attributes became fundamental to Bill Lester’s success. There were many pitfalls, heartaches, and lessons to be learned during his difficult journey. But Lester defied the odds and overcame adversity, discrimination, and racism, becoming a legend on the track. Lester’s life story resonates with those contemplating a career or lifestyle change, challenging social norms, or struggling against prejudice. His ability to overcome challenges and persevere in the face of adversity and is what makes him a compelling, motivational speaker and an inspiration to anyone who has the honor of listening to him speak.

All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Bill Lester for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Bill Lester speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.

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Please Note: All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Bill Lester for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Bill Lester speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.

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