Clemson mechanical engineering major wins in Porsche GT Cup
AUSTIN, Tex. — Alec Udell has been taking a full load of classes this year as a mechanical engineering student at Clemson University. And he also is racing full time professionally with his No. 17 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the Pirelli World Challenge.
The 20-year-old junior from The Woodlands, Tex., probably could use a nice break for the summer as the personable racer continues to lead the point standings in the Porsche GT Cup division in 2016.
But that’s not in Udell’s plans right now.
“It’s great being a student at Clemson University and racing too,” said Udell, who has scored seven wins in 2016. “I’ll go back to school in the middle of August. But I’m keeping very busy this summer with an online class (technical writing) and an internship in Austin. School is going fast right now. I’m going to be a junior this year. I’m not getting much sleep right now.”
So when Udell isn’t wheeling his Porsche 911 around many of North America’s top road racing circuits (including Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 28-31), the former karting national champion is assisting one of Texas’ biggest architectural firms, PBK Architects, Inc.
“I’m a math and science guy so taking my last writing class before working on my major is good right now,” Alec explained. “But gaining the experience with PBK is a tremendous opportunity for the future. They let me continue my racing during the summer while working for them in the week days. My friend Ian Powell, a fellow racer, helped me get connected with Darrell Pearson, the head person in the Austin office. Darrell has let me get acclimated to the program and work in the company’s MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) division. I get to go out on job sites and follow inspectors.”
With over 200 employees at PBK, it is a good bet that most workers at the architectural firm don’t know that Udell has been a champion racing driver since he was in elementary school. Alec won the 2008 Rotax Minimax National karting title and became one of the youngest drivers to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge at age 15.
“Racing is so special for me,” said Udell. “I started at age five in karting and moved into cars as a teenager. Now, racing a Porsche for GMG and all of my great sponsors in PWC is the path I wanted to go. 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’s recent double victory weekend at Road America has propelled him into the point lead over Sloan Urry in the GT Cup points. Udell has 1288 to Urry’s 1250.
“The races at Road America were very exciting for me,” said Alec. “I remember racing at the karting track there when I was little. And the Champ Cars were racing on the big track the same weekend. I would run over to the fence and watch the big race cars fly by on the back straight. I told myself I wanted to race on that big track someday. So winning two races on the same weekend at Road America was a thrill.”
Udell has put together a solid sponsor base to help continue his racing career while still studying at Clemson.
“To be honest, without GMG, Panther Pipeline, Amsource Capital and Euroworld Motorsports, I wouldn’t be able to live my dream of racing cars,” said Udell. “They make things possible and I can continue my family’s legacy in racing. My grandfather, Chuck, got me into racing at age five. He raced cars, his father raced cars and my dad raced cars. I have been climbing around race cars since I was a baby. I just love being around cars.”
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 setups.”
Right now those settings have been working well for Udell and his Porsche 911 with seven wins already. And he hopes to add to his winning record on July 28-31 at Mid-Ohio in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presenting by Honda Racing.
“I love sprint racing as it focuses on the car and the driver,” Udell said. “Mid-Ohio will be a tough track for both the car and myself with different elevations and corners. But we are prepared to keeping the winning record going. It’s been a good season so far.”
Pirelli World Challenge action gets underway Thursday July 28th at Mid-Ohio with qualifying and racing set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 29-31 in the GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS divisions.