Alec Udell Approaches Street Courses with Engineer’s Mind
April 4, 2017 | Long Beach, California | Alec Udell opened the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season with twin GTA class victories on the St. Petersburg street course. Now, the native of The Woodlands, Texas travels across the continent to Long Beach, California where the Pacific Ocean and concrete walls will greet the Clemson University student. While Porsches are a familiar sight on the streets of SoCal that does not mean these public roads are made for racing. They provide a unique challenge to drivers, mechanics and engineers. For Udell – who enters Round Three of North America’s premier sprint racing format for GT cars having just been moved into the highest category for professional drivers (GT class) by virtue of his performance in the opening weekend in the GT Amateur (GTA) class – it is a contest of mechanical wit and driver willingness, both things at which he excels. Udell will take the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R to the street for a single 50-minute battle on April 9.
While the Euroworld Motorsports 911 GT3 R is based on a street-going model that does not mean that piloting the car on the streets is like driving a built-for-the-road 911. Driving a car developed to challenge the great racetracks of the world is a different challenge when facing the compromises that must be made to overcome the narrow, barrier-lined circuit that the public uses every other day of the year. The surface often transitions between concrete to asphalt, oil laid down from hours of rush hour traffic and distortions to pavement created by large trucks are all magnified in cars with little ride height or suspension travel. The crest on the roads themselves – developed to drain water – become launching ramps for the low-slung, high-speed racers.
All of this demands a special approach and one custom-tailored to the analytical mind of the 2016 PWC GT Cup Champion. While aerodynamics has become the key to all automobiles, particularly racecars, the assistance of wind is less vital on the slower, tighter road courses. This puts the emphasis back on mechanical grip – tire pressures, shock settings, spring rates and the like. It is here that the mechanical engineering mind, studies and practical experiences pay off the most for the junior in the Mechanical Engineering department of Clemson. Lessons learned in the classroom help the 21-year-old analyze and communicate back to the GMG Motorsports team what the car is doing in the 1.968-mile long street circuit’s 11-turns. Similarly, the real time experiments in automotive dynamics at the track help better explain the academics of the lecture hall when he returns to classes on Monday.
Udell will get his first opportunity without the “A” on his car, at a single practice session for the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday, April 7. A second session will take place just before GT/GTA qualifying on Saturday morning. Round Three of the Championship will take the green flag at 10:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, April 9. The 50-minute race can be seen live at www.world-challenge.com and on the CBS Sports Network at 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 9.
Alec Udell |
about the importance of mechanical grip on a street course| “For Long Beach we will be doing a similar setup to what we ran at St. Pete, considering both are street courses they have similar attributes. Our St. Pete setup worked really well for us and it’s something Neville [Agass, team engineer] and I worked on a lot together while testing out at The Thermal Club in California. For me, I try to be as objective as possible when describing how the car feels and let Neville make the setup calls during the session to get the Porsche headed in the correct direction. After the session we debrief and I’m able to go more in depth about what I felt throughout the time on track, we have a good back and forth on what we think the car needs. In doing so I’m able to put my engineering cap on a bit and help make educated decisions on the car by knowing some more advanced mechanics and geometry of my Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R’s inner workings.”
about Long Beach| “Going into the Long Beach Grand Prix I’m excited to carry forward the momentum that we had at St. Petersburg. I’m looking forward to getting back in the Euroworld Porsche and show what I’m capable of. It’s also very exciting because it’ll be GMG’s home race, being located just down the road in Santa Ana. We’ll have lots of supporters out there for the even so I’m excited to host and show well for our guests!”
about being moved to GT class | “This is a great opportunity to compete at the highest level of GT racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. Being at the professional level is what I’ve been working towards my whole racing career. So, it is very exciting to have those efforts, and successes, recognized. I am under no delusions; I know that this will be the hardest challenge of my career. I will be racing against veterans and factory drivers like Patrick Long and Johnny O’Connell but that will only hone my skills that much more.
To meet my goals, this is where I need to be and, honestly, it comes a little earlier than I had thought it might and that makes it even more satisfying. Everyone at Euroworld Motorsports and GMG has been working so hard to put us into this position. Now we are there which only means the real work has begun. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
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 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.
Bio and Images Available Upon Request
More information on the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge can be found at www.world-challenge.com .