Ashdod-born Alon Day, the first Israeli driver to compete in an IndyCar-sanctioned series and in one of National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)’s top three touring series, is trying to become the first full-time Jewish driver in NASCAR, the NY Daily News reported Saturday.
Earlier this month, Day was recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Sports as Athlete of the Year in Israel for 2016. Day is a part of the NASCAR Next program, which recognizes young drivers from diverse backgrounds with a proven track record who are attempting to move up the NASCAR Ladder. His goal, he says, “is to do a full season in 2017.”
Day, 26, began his racing in go-karts as a child. He is optimistic about his chances in the US. “One of the goals I had when I came to the States was to make myself a name,” he told the Daily News. He finished 13th in his August debut in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., not too shabby for a rookie.
Coming from Israel, where track racing is a rare event, Day is used to having to train and compete abroad. “I had to fly to Europe while basically I was still a student in high school,” Day said. “More than that, in Israel one thing even more difficult is the military service. Everybody has to do three years of military service when you finish high school; when you’re 18 you have to go into the military. Every time I had to fly to a race, they let me fly, but every time I’m here in Israel I have to put the uniform on and be in the military.”
He won the Asian Formula Renault Challenge championship in 2009; finished ninth driving the German Formula Three Championship in 2010, and fourth in 2011 driving for HS Engineering; he made six starts in Formula Three Euroseries; and drove in two races in Austria Formula 3 Cup, good enough for eighth in that championship.
In 2012 Day moved to North America, where he signed to drive in the Firestone Indy Lights series with Belardi Auto Racing. He has made six starts for the team before they amicably parted ways. In August, 2016, he joined MBM Motorsports for his Xfinity Series debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, making Day the first Israeli to compete in a major NASCAR touring series.
Day was supported by Jewish attorney David Levin, who gave him $60,000 from his retirement account to fund his car. According to USA Today, Levin was watching TV at home in Sarasota, Florida, when he saw Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame give the invocation before a race at Texas Motor Speedway, calling on his audience to “pray that we put a Jesus man in the White House.”
“That was pretty insulting,” Levin told USA Today. “It reinforced the impression that NASCAR is a white, Christian sport. But NASCAR is for everyone. There’s no reason it can’t also include Jews, blacks and Mexicans.” So Levin put his money where his mouth was and Alon Day’s career got the boost it so richly deserved.JNi.Media