Last week. Belardi Auto Racing added to their 2012 Firestone Indy Lights team and made history by signing Alon Day, the first Israeli driver to compete in American motorsport on United States soil. Alon comes from a background including an Asia Formula Renault Championship, as well as a turn in German Formula Three and as an FIA Ambassador.
Alon took time out from his season preparation for an interview with INDYCAR Nation:
Alon, thanks so much for your time. Can you give us a little bit about your racing background, and why you’ve come to America to compete?
AD: Like many drivers, I was first introduced to motorsport at a go-kart track in my home town when I was very young. Almost immediately, I fell in love with the speed, adrenaline and the head-to-head competition and begged my father to take me back the following weekend for another race. Thankfully, he was happy to and things really took off from that point! I did a few years of karting and then graduated into single-seater motorsport in Formula Renault which is where most of the current Formula One grid began their career out of karts. I had a great year in Formula Renault and won that championship and then got offered a seat in the ATS German Formula 3 Championship, which is what I have been doing for the last two seasons. As for why I wanted to cross the pond and come to the USA, I had many, many discussions with my manager and we came to the conclusion that the US is where I should be! The USA has a reputation of giving people a chance to live their dreams if you've got what it takes. The Mazda Road to Indy program does exactly that. It gives every driver a shot at making it to the pinnacle of US single-seater motorsport and one day I hope that I will follow in the footsteps of many of the sports greats and drink the milk in victory lane!
What were your first impressions while driving the Indy Lights car?
AD: Naturally, the car was a lot of fun to drive - that goes without saying. To be honest, I feel that the Indy Lights car is a real racing car. It isn't massively technical or complicated - it is a big, powerful, heavy, fast race car and you really have to be on your game to get everything out of it.
As the first Israeli driver to compete in the United States, do you feel you’re sort of racing as an ambassador for your homeland?
AD: I really hope so! I want to be the person to show and teach Israel all about motorsport! It is a fantastic sport! The amount of team work and expertise that is behind every race victory is staggering! Motorsport really has something for everyone, whether you are a furious competitor, a tech expert, a car lover or just someone who enjoys great sporting events, motorsport caters for you and I want Israel to get as excited about it as I am!
What do you consider the high point of your career so far?
AD: It is a close one between being selected by the FIA as an ambassador and winning the Formula Renault championship in 2009, but I have to go with the Renault crown, it was my first title in single-seaters and one that will always be special to me.
What are your expectations and goals for the 2012 Lights season?
AD: I fully believe that I will be fighting for the Lights title this year. I have a great team of people around me and there is a real feeling that we achieve great things this season together. Obviously we will take things one step at a time but I think we will be the surprise package for 2012.
Where would you like to see yourself in 2-3 years?
AD: Driving the number 4 National Guard IndyCar to the season championship. It is a great looking car and I love the thought of having an army behind me!
Which track on the Firestone Indy Lights schedule are you most looking forward to, and why?
AD: I am really looking forward to St. Petersburg! In addition to being a great looking and challenging circuit, it is the first race of the season and one which every driver wants to win so as to put a maker down. I am no exception.
Will you be residing in Indianapolis for the season? Any culture shocks yet?
AD: That's the plan! It is where my team is based and I would like to be close to them. The fact that there is a pretty popular race on May 27 might have something to do with it as well. As for culture shocks, I would say I got more of a weather shock! When I visited the team this January I came off the plane to see snow for the very first time! It was a lot of fun although the drive from the airport to the hotel was…let's go with “eye-opening”!
OK, time for the Lightning Round, where the fans learn a little more about you:
Favorite band or type of music?
AD: Pink Floyd
AD: Jim Clark
Favorite TV show or movie?
AD: Forest Gump
AD: 2013 National Guard IndyCar (Sorry JR).
Ideal place to go on vacation?
Any superstitions related to racing?
What’s something about you most folks wouldn’t guess by looking at you?
AD: Like everyone in Israel, I spent more than 2 years in the army. I am guessing I must be one of the only drivers to have done this?