Speed Seeker — Race Car Driver Alec Udell
“I’m truly at home behind the wheel, but through my engineering studies I’m craving to understand every inch of the car from conception to completion,” says Alec Udell
Aside from his academic success, at first glance, Alec Udell, a John Cooper School graduate, and current mechanical engineering student at Clemson University, may seem ordinary: he loves video games, playing acoustic guitar (John Mayer is a favorite) and drives a silver pick up. What isn’t ordinary is his other set of wheels – a Porsche 911 GT3 R (which reaches top speeds of 175 mph!), which he races for Global Motorsports Group on the Pirelli World Challenge racing circuit.
Born in Charleston, Illinois, into a racing family (his grandfather, father and sister raced), Udell received his first go-kart at the age of 5. “Racing is in my blood,” he says. “My family is so supportive. Both sets of my grandparents come and watch me race. Racing brings my whole family together. I love that.”
Udell moved to The Woodlands when he was 8 years old. At 14, he represented the U.S.A. in the world finals in go-kart racing in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. At 15, he was the youngest racer at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix – at the time, the youngest driver to ever start at a Pirelli World Challenge race. Ironically, before he was old enough to obtain a Texas driver’s license, he went on to win his class in the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge and earned the title of Pirelli’s Youngest Champion. Udell’s upcoming summer racing schedule includes Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
During weekends, winter, spring and summer breaks from school, Udell splits his time between the racing circuit and helping out at The Houston Karting Complex, where he and his family keep racing in the family bloodstream with an impressive public race track for beginners and serious racers-to-be in Conroe, Texas. This track is 7/10th of a mile and features 12 turns with rental carts and speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Plans to build a second private track with memberships are in the works.
Polite as he is whip smart, Udell will graduate from Clemson this winter. Ideally, he’d like to secure a job as an engineer working for a car manufacturer and work his way up to becoming one of their coveted race car test drivers. This would allow him to be a part of a car development programming team while still being able to compete internationally in professional sports car racing.
“I’d love to be in on the design, build and optimization of these extraordinary machines,” says Udell. “I’m truly at home behind the wheel, but through my engineering studies I’m craving to understand every inch of the car from conception to completion.”
With a head for engineering and a body comfortable going faster than most of us can imagine, racing’s “young gun” is poised for his next big lane change in life – and we are there to cheer him as he races toward another win!