Mechanical Engineer student wins GT Cup in 2016, Jumps Up a Class in 2017
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Young Alec Udell has been learning on and off the track for the past fifteen years.
While being an honor student, the 21-year-old college junior scored top grades in the classroom as well as at the race track. After a stellar karting career as a teenager, Udell became one of the youngest competitors in Pirelli World Challenge history when he was 15 and racing a Chevrolet Camaro against pro drivers two- and three- times his age.
Recently, the mechanical engineering student at Clemson University used that track knowledge to capture the 2016 PWC GT Cup road racing championship that included 12 victories in the GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 sports car.
So, just like at school, it’s time for The Woodlands, Tex., resident to move up in his class.
Next week in the streets of St. Petersburg, Udell will drive a Euroworld Motorsports-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 R machine against some of the world’s top sports car drivers as the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season begins with two 50-minute sprint events in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Cadillac. The 2017 PWC debut weekend will be contested on the same 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit as the Verizon IndyCar Series opener on March 11-12.
“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R at St. Petersburg,” said Udell, who compete in the GTA division. “The last time I was in that car I had a grin on my face the entire time. Plus, it will be nice to be away from the studies like Vehicle dynamics, mechanical design and technical lab work at Clemson. I’ll just have my mind on the race track.”
Udell, who currently takes 14 units at Clemson, likes the fact he has graduated from the small Porsche division to the GT3 cars in 2017. But he also knows it won’t be easy.
“It has been a nice transition from the GT Cup Porsche to the GT3 Porsche,” admitted Udell. “You have to drive the GT3 aggressively because it has more downforce, better brakes and more horsepower. I really want to thank Euroworld Motorsport, the nation’s only certified carbon fiber repair shop, for giving me this opportunity to move up in class. Without their assistance, I wouldn’t be doing this jump in 2017.”
For Udell, racing was something he started at the tender age of five because his grandfather, who was a race driver himself, bought him a go-kart.
“Racing is so special for me,” said Udell. “I started at age five in karting and moved into cars as a teenager. I’d love to be a professional racing driver in the future but I want to get my degree and learn about other off-track opportunities.”
Udell wants his career to remain in the car industry when he graduates from Clemson in a couple of years, whether it’s continuing his driving or as an engineer.
“Taking mechanical engineering definitely helps me understand the race car and working with our GMG team,” he said. “I think I can relate more information to the team on how the car is performing and the direction to go with the car setups.”
The Pirelli World Challenge has been the perfect platform for a young driver like Udell and others who have worked their way up the racing ladder,
In addition to his sprint racing in the GTA class in 2017, Alec will also compete with driver Preston Calvert in the newly-designed SprintX category, a division featuring two drivers sharing the same machine in a 60-minute race. Last year, Calvert won two SprintX races.
“Last year, I drove in the final SprintX race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the Porsche 911 GT3 R and it was just a blast,” said Udell, who twice posted the fastest practice speed in that event against some top professional drivers. “I think I showed that I can drive with some of the top GT racers and that gets me excited for this coming season, especially with the season opener in the streets of St. Petersburg.”
Udell and Calvert won’t team up until the first SprintX weekend set for April 28-20 at VIRginia International Raceway. But, for right now, it’s Udell in two 50-minute contests on March 11-12.
“In the last week, I have been studying in school and my mind will drift off thinking about the St. Petersburg race weekend,” Udell admitted. “I have talked to my professors already about next week and my excitement to go racing. They seemed to understand. I know I’m ready to go.”
Pirelli World Challenge action gets underway next Thursday (March 9) with practice runs at St. Petersburg and the first race set for Saturday (March 11) at 9:35 am ET. Sunday’s second race is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. ET.