Driver Spotlight: Bill Sweedler
Driver: No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia
For you and Townsend Bell to bounce back after losing last year and now win this year’s GT Daytona class championship, how satisfying is that?
“Last year we led the entire time to the last two races. What a difficult pill to swallow being there and thinking we had it in the bag. So I feel for TRG-AMR and Christina (Nielsen). I know exactly how it feels. We knew we had to stay within a couple points the entire time. Closer to VIR and COTA, we knew needed to be within striking distance, and have a strategy to play for the championship.”
Although it’s been with different teams (Alex Job Racing, Level 5 Motorsports, AIM Autosport and Scuderia Corsa), how important has it been for you to have a consistent lineup driving with Townsend every year?
“It’s been fantastic. We know what we’re thinking. It’s very easy. We don’t have the ‘rookie’ turnaround in the beginning of the season where we need to learn each other out. We know how each other work, who pushes the buttons. I would say that is a major asset.”
From the outside it looked like your drive at VIR was your best of the season, but were there others?
“Sebring was a great track for us. Daytona was a great track. COTA I love. Frankly I love VIR as a track either way. The facilities and what they’ve done there have been amazing. The tracks they have on our schedule this year are perfectly suited for both our driving styles and the Ferrari this year.”
How much better a driver are you now compared to 2008 or 2009, your early years in the American Le Mans Series GTC class?
“I’m convinced racing is all about seat time. The more you get behind the wheel, better you’ll be. You’ll have better decision making, and provide better feedback to make the car faster. Comparing to 2008 and 2009, it’s been heads and tails difference to become a better and smarter driver.”
How do you balance your business commitments (Sweedler is an investor and entrepreneur outside of racing) and racing?
“I would say we have historically – Townsend and I – not done a significant amount of testing. It’s literally been about maximizing every minute you have on race weekends. Hopefully you can going into next year, we’ll have more testing in the new car. We’ll need even more seat time and need to be acclimated heading into Daytona.”
What was your racing background prior to sports car racing?
“I did the Skip Barber series back in the 90s. I recognized, I’d just gotten married. So I had to pick a career path. I thought my business career was going to be more fruitful for earning and supporting my family, after seeing a lot of friends struggle in racing. I chose to do that, thinking I could come back to racing when the time is right.”