LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Andrew Palmer has been fast in just about everything he has ever done.
The 21-year-old Chicago native became the youngest GT winner (19) in Pirelli World Challenge history when he made a last lap pass in 2014 at Barber Motorsports Park. And the former college cross country and track and field star graduated from Pomona College in Southern California in three years, majoring in the difficult Mathematical Economics.
And last year, the personable driver of the No. 87 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 sports car captured class wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit LeMans events.
Now Palmer comes to famed Lime Rock Park for the Grand Prix of Lime Rock presented by Bentley this Friday and Saturday (May 27-28) over the fast 1.5-mile, seven-turn road circuit for the Pirelli World Challenge GT doubleheader with hopes of scoring his first 2016 triumph.
Palmer was close to the top of the podium last weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park northeast of Toronto, as he took back-to-back second place finishes to double winner Patrick Long.
“I had never been to CTMP before last weekend and it was a solid performance for the whole Absolute Bentley team,” said Palmer, who teams with Asian star Adderley Fong for Absolute Racing. “Now, we go to Lime Rock Park in the same situation. I’ve never seen the track before but I hear it is fast. I love the high-speed circuits and we want to get the Bentley into victory lane this weekend.”
The “fast” theme continues for the youngster who didn’t get into auto racing until age 18.
“I raced from ages 10 to 18 in karting,” explains Palmer. “Then I was working at the race track in Southern California (The Thermal Club) and was offered a spot in a Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo sports car. It was a start to an auto racing career.”
And, of course, Palmer won his very first auto racing event in October, 2013 at Virginia International Raceway. He continued the theme of being fast.
The 2010 Rotex natonal karting champion won the 2013 Lamborghini Super Trofeo world championship and was named an official Lamborghini Junior Driver. Last year, he won the North American Endurance Championship in the PC division with three wins and a second in four races.
“After last year’s North American Endurance Championship, the Bentley factory contacted me about racing for them in the Pirelli World Challenge,” said Palmer. “It is an honor to drive the Bentley in North America and in the Asian GT Championship. I am competing in 36 races in 18 weekends between PWC and the Asian GT championship. It’s a busy schedule but I want all of the seat time I can get at age 21.”
And Palmer knows the competition level in the Pirelli World Challenge is as tough as it gets within the GT3 sport car category.
“Pirelli World Challenge is a super series right now with the factory teams from many auto manufacturers,” said Palmer. “And the driver lineup is world class with Patrick Long, Johnny O’Connell, Alvaro Parente, Michael Cooper and others. I feel I can run right with them now and I hope to prove it again this weekend at Lime Rock Park. I have heard a lot about the track growing up and I’m anxious to race on it.”
Palmer’ stock has been raising in PWC leading in the Canadian rounds last weekend and two runner-up placings have vaulted the Venice Beach, Calif., resident from ninth to sixth in the current GT driver point standings.
“I’m getting more familiar with the Bentley race car as well as with the Absolute Racing team,” said Andrew. “We have had some tough races too already this year. I was running second at COTA (Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex.) and received a penalty. And then in the streets of Long Beach, we were fourth and hit some liquid from another car and slid wide in a corner. It’s sad to look back on those two races and I think what might have been with those good results.
“But we can’t think about the past now. It’s time to continue our good performances heading to Lime Rock. I know that Adderly and I are looking forward to testing there early in the week and racing in the two weekend main events. We expect another strong showing for the Bentleys.”
Palmer will be in for a fight in the two 50-minute GT sprint races set for Friday and Saturday with four-time PWC GT series champion O’Connell, GTS champion Cooper, three-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner and former PWC champion Long, former Indy 500 driver J.D.Davison, international GT star Parente (a 2016 two-time winner), former sports car champion Jon Fogarty and other youngsters such as Austin Cindric (age 17) and Colin Thompson (age 21).
Pirelli World Challenge action at Lime Rock Park begins Friday with the GT 50-minute feature scheduled for 4:55 p.m. EDT. Saturday’s GT race is set for 4 p.m.