Alec Udell – Engineering A Professional Driver
November 27, 2017 | The Woodlands, Texas | Alec Udell balanced his senior year at Clemson University and a full season racing in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class with the engineering precision for which he has gained a reputation. The mechanical engineering student from The Woodlands, Texas received top grades both in class and in the car. Driving the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R by GMG, Udell – who turns 22-years-old on November 29 – won the first two races of the year and was moved into the professional class where he went on to take a podium finish and multiple top-ten finishes. He concluded the season with the longest GT race of his career to-date and the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) “Hard Charger of the Year” Award.
Udell had tested the waters of the PWC GT3-specification GT classes at the season-ending race of 2016. Last year, entering the final round of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS), the Texan had already secured his first PWC title, in the GT Cup class, and rather than enter the one-make Porsche class again, he joined with GMG to race in the SprintX race in the team’s new Porsche 911 GT3 R finishing in sixth-place in both races. Buoyed by that success as well as the GT Cup title, Udell moved into 2017 with an announced full-season program racing the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche in the PWC Sprint Championship and co-driving the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics 911 GT3 R with Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland) in the PWC SprintX Championship. Each 10-race season consisted of five event weekends with two races per track.
Before the championship attack could begin, Udell joined with Carter Yeung (Bradbury, California) and Andy Lee (Manhattan Beach, California) sharing the No. 88 GMG Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the four-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway. The trio finished in 12th-place overall on the classic American road course/oval track.
The warm-up now behind him, Udell put his full focus on the 911 GT3 R. The PWC season opened on a street course in St. Petersburg, Florida. Being a student, Udell is not a full-time race car driver therefore PWC officials placed him in the GT Amateur (GTA) class to open the year. After racing to the class victory in both 50-minute single driver format races, the Series immediately moved him up to full professional status for the remainder of the year. This meant the young driver would be facing competition from factory and international championship-winning drivers with far more seat time on their resumes. Udell did not back down from the test. In Round Three of the PWC GT Championship – another street race, this time in Long Beach, California – he piloted the blue and Clemson-orange Porsche to seventh-overall; an impressive debut among the highest level of competition.
Just as the competitors were getting settled in the Sprint format, the SprintX season opened at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) with the first two of ten 60-minute, two-driver races. Joining amateur Calvert, Udell was the Pro in the Pro-Am style races. The pairing raced well capturing a fourth-place finish in the first race. However, in race two, the No. 77 was forced off-track causing significant damage to the black and yellow Calvert-owned 911. Fortunately, it was nearly a month before Rounds Three and Four of the SprintX season would be held on the dauntingly quick Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) round course in Bowmanville, Ontario. Working together, GMG and Phoenix Performance made the repairs and Udell/Calvert arrived ready to continue their championship aspirations together. A seventh-place result in class was enough to shake out the cobwebs in Race 1 on Saturday. Weather denied the field from taking the green flag on Sunday and the 60-minute Round 4 would be rescheduled for the end of the season at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Lime Rock Park was the third SprintX weekend and the No. 77 took seventh and eighth-place, respectively, in the two races held on the short Connecticut road course.
Late June brought the beautiful Road America course and the Sprint championship. This meant Udell was back in the No. 17 and driving solo. He took seventh-place overall in both rounds.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has long been a favorite for Udell and he showed why in late July. In Race 1, on Saturday, he had a strong start but would finish in eighth-place. On Sunday – Round 7 of the 10 races – another masterful start gained him several positions when the green flag fell. He fought throughout the 50-minute race against factory drivers like Patrick Long of Porsche and captured his first career podium finish – third-place – in a Pro class. In addition, as he did several times throughout the season, Udell was awarded the “Hard Charger Award”. This recognizes the driver with the most positions gained during an event. Udell’s impressive ability to balance aggressiveness and defensiveness on the starts became a major tool in the rookie driver’s toolbox.
When World Challenge traveled to the Utah Motorsports Campus in August, it did so for the penultimate weekend of the SprintX title chase. Udell and Calvert had shown competitive speed but incidents of one kind or another had kept the combination from their full performance potential. The desert gave up some of its riches with the No. 77 scoring a second top-five finish of the year in Pro-Am on both Saturday and Sunday.
The final SprintX weekend of the year was a triple at Udell’s home track in Austin. A race on Friday evening was scheduled to make-up for the rained-out round in Canada. While events out of Udell’s control kept him from showing his prowess in the first two of the three races, in the final event on Sunday afternoon he took the challenge, and the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R, and charged with a precise determination from 23rd in the field up to third-place overall before handing the Porsche to Calvert. He and co-driver Calvert finished the day with their third top-five finish of the season.
The final PWC race of the season came at Sonoma Raceway and would close the Sprint Championship. He wrapped his first professional season with a top-ten performance. In Race 1, contact ended his race early but, in the final race of the year, Udell charged to a top-ten overall driving the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche.
At the season-ending banquet, Udell was acknowledged by PWC officials as the competitor that he is. The rookie in a field of veterans was given the 2017 PWC GT “Hard Charger of the Year” award. The recognition for the most positions gained throughout the race season was an apt reward for the driver who races with both his head and his heart.
One remaining hill awaited Udell. The Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) brought its unique eight-hour race format for GT3 and GT4 cars to MRLS in October. Udell was given the opportunity to join Porsche factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Sven Müller (Germany) in the No. 17 Hybrid Kinetic Group Porsche 911 GT3 R prepared by GMG. The trio earned a hard-fought sixth-place finish in the Pro-Pro class. The eight-hour race was the longest of Udell’s racing career and the first time in a race greater than one-hour driving the GT3-spec Porsche.
Within two-days, Udell was back sitting in classes in Clemson, South Carolina.
2018 plans will be announced in the coming weeks.
Alec Udell |
about 2017| “I think this season is a good one to hang my helmet on. We had an overall GT podium, two GTA wins and we were only out of the top-ten once. Many good things happened in my first full year of Pirelli World Challenge GT3 racing. Reflecting back to my goals, I achieved all but one of them [winning a race overall]. However that’s what keeps bringing me back, the desire to be better. The competition has pushed me to a level above my previous performance, and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
We worked so well together with Euroworld Motorsports, GMG, Hybrid Kinetic Group and Porsche as well as with Preston. I am really proud of everything that came together and I want to thank everyone involved. I’m looking forward to racing with the world class drivers again next year. We’ll see y’all on the track.”
about Alec Udell |
Alec Udell is a junior studying engineering at Clemson University. The 21 year-old from The Woodlands, Texas began his racing career in karting at age five. He went on to win the Rotax National Points Championship in 2008 and represented his country as part of Team USA in Egypt in the World Championships in 2009. By 2011, he made history by becoming, at the time, the Pirelli World Challenge’s youngest ever competitor at age 15. He has 15 career Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup class wins entering the season and is the 2016 PWC GT Cup Champion.
about Hybrid Kinetic Group |
Hybrid Kinetic Group is a company invested in clean renewable energy, battery technology, nanotechnology and complete hybrid systems. They use motorsport as a proving ground for the various forms of technology they develop.
about Euroworld Motorsports |
2017 is the third season Udell partners with Euroworld Motorsports (www.euroworldmotorsports.com). Euroworld is the country’s only certified automotive carbon fiber repair facility. Based in Houston, they are one of Texas’s leading European auto repair and performance facility.