Winning in Reverse
Defying the Odds and Achieving Dreams—The Bill Lester Story
The amazing and dramatic story of Bill Lester, 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.
Winning in Reverse tells the story of Bill Lester whose love for racing eventually compelled him to quit his job as an engineer to pursue racing full time. Blessed with natural talent, Bill still had a trifecta of odds against him: he was black, he was middle aged, and he wasn’t a southerner.
Bill Lester rose above it all, as did his rankings, and he made history time and time again, becoming the first African American to race in NASCAR’s Busch Series, the first to participate in the Nextel Cup and the first to win a Pole Position start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Whether you are contemplating a career or lifestyle change, challenging social norms, or struggling against prejudice or bigotry, Winning in Reverse is a story for sports fans and readers everywhere about the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.
In this affecting memoir, African American NASCAR driver Lester recounts how he went from being a child obsessed with fast cars to an adult who lived out his dream of competing at racing's highest levels. Lester writes that he "became hooked on high performance cars that commanded excessive speeds" at age 8, in 1969, right after his father took him to his first race. After finishing college, Lester worked for Hewlett-Packard as an engineer and project manager, and dabbled with amateur racing on the side (including an SCCA Rookie of the Year award in 1985). At 37, with the support of his wife, Cheryl, he quit his job to become a professional driver. That decision led to historic accomplishments, including becoming the first African American driver to compete in NASCAR's Busch series in 1999 and winning the Grand Am division race in 2008. While Lester is mostly upbeat, he doesn't shy away from calling out the racism he encountered, including an especially ugly incident when an effigy of him was torched by white racers at a racing gear marketing event in 2001. He is also guarded about the prospects of future Black NASCAR racers, noting that "the sport condoned the flying of Confederate flags for decades." Lester's inspirational story of resilience in the face of daunting obstacles wins big.