Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
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When it comes to the world of racing, Brian Alder has just about done it all. Mechanic? Check. Crew chief? Check. Team manager? Check. Team owner? Check. But it wasn't until two years ago when Alder, an Ohio native, took his place in the driver's seat.
"Honestly, I had done every job except driving," Alder said. "It completes the package. It makes me a better owner, first of all, but it's also a challenge. I'm always looking to doing something new and push the boundaries."
Alder made his driving debut last year in the Lites 2 class of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series. The difference between L1 and L2 is the engine. The choice an easy one for Alder, having a championship-caliber car in his BAR 1 Motorsports shop.
"We had the car just sitting there and ready to go," Alder said. "It was actually Ricardo Vera's L1 car from 2011, when he won the Lites championship. It was ready for what was then the L2 class, and we went for it."
Alder went for it, and he succeeded. He ran only a partial season and still took the L2 championship in his rookie season, winning each race he entered. Many times Alder also finished in the top half of Lites 1 drivers, a trend that continues in 2014 during his sophomore season.
"It's a great class for me to be in," Alder said. "It's all about the learning and fine-tuning of the racecraft. It's my hope that more people see the benefits of the L2 class and join us."
With the addition of Top 1 Oil as a title sponsor, Alder made the decision to run a full season in 2014 and has continued his winning ways. The BAR1 Motorsport team has started on pole in every race and won every race except two, in which Alder finished second. He leads the L2 standings by 70 points entering Rounds 9 and 10 of the season this weekend at Road America.
One of the biggest draws for Alder to Lites is the tough competition, especially in the sometimes small L2 class.
"There are three to five of us that are all really close in times," Alder said. "We qualify mid-pack so we're not just dealing with ourselves but the other L1 cars around us, too. It makes it more fun.
"(Jerome) Mee and I race each other hard but fair.Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was probably the best race we've ever had. We respect each other, and that's key. We go head to head, but it's to fine-tune our own racecraft."
But even more than personal championships, Alder is looking for team success in Prototype Lites, where he is hoping to grow thatprogram, and also in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Alder's BAR1 Motorsports team also fields an entry in the Prototype Challenge class.
"Top 1 Oil as our title sponsor adds a lot to our program because we're able to do more," Alder said. "It helps grow us as a team and compete not only in Lites but in TUDOR. With the experience I get racing myself, I know exactly what our drivers mean when they are telling us about changes or problems on the course."
But it's not like Alder jumped in the car, crossed his fingers and hoped for the best. Prior to his first race, Alder had 13 years of experience in the industry. It all started in 1989 when his dad took him to his first Indianapolis 500. He was hooked from there.
In 2000, he got his first job as a mechanic on a professional race team and worked inIndyCar and Indy Lights. In 2003, he made the jump to sports car racing, where he stayed and started his team in 2011.
"It wasn't like I didn't know what I was doing when I decided to drive," Alder said. "With the experience I had, I knew what goes on in a driver's head. From there, it was just doing testing and getting as much seat time as I could."
Alder's next challenge will be to take on Road America, a 4-mile, 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
"Road America is a great track," Alder said. "It's a long lap and gives you a lot of time to think. It's a balance of how much aero you carry in the turns and how much grip you have. Our cars are so close together - trimming the car will be the main focus for us."
On one of the fastest tracks in the entire country in cars very familiar with the US 131 Motorsports Park quarter-mile, the usual suspects were expected to rule the day in IHRA's Mountain Motor Pro Stock class Friday during the opening night of the annual IHRA Northern Nationals.
Instead, surprise participant Scott Hintz, in only his third start of the year with the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series, was the top qualifier in the Pro Stock class, joining Mike Pelrine (Nitro Harley), Ron Maroney (Nitro Altered), Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) and Dom Lagana (Top Fuel) as the top qualifiers Friday at the IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park.
Hintz, from Odessa, Texas, was the quickest car from Friday's trio of qualifying passes for the Pro Stock teams, running an evening-best 6.259 seconds at 222.29 miles per hour on the quarter-mile in the Hintz Racing 2013 Ford Mustang. IHRA points leader Cary Goforth qualified second in the Dean's Casing Service 2014 Chevrolet Camaro with a 6.294 at 222.31, followed by Todd Hoerner, John DeFlorian and Kevin Bealko.
In Nitro Harley, Canadian Mike Pelrine led the way in the nitro-powered motorcycle class with a 6.370 at 218.22, just ahead of Randal Andras who ran a 6.412 at 212.83. Class points leader Mike Scott was third, followed by Mark Cox and Lyle Newton.
Ron Maroney was fastest in the Nitro Altered category in the "Blind Faith" machine, running an evening-best 6.258 at 207.01. Shane Harter in "Nasty Benjamin" was second with a 6.342 at 190.54. Troy Martin, Don Blackshear and Kyle Hough rounded out the top five.
The Nitro Altered rounds were filled with the kind of excitement fans have come to expect from these wild machines as both Kyle Hough and Mike Hilsabeck slapped the left-side wall in almost identical spots, joining a number of exciting runs from the nostalgia class.
Rounding out IHRA's regular classes was Jet Dragster as Floridian Marisha Falk put the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University jet-powered rail in the top spot with a 5.827-second pass at 274.74 mph. Elaine Larsen was second, followed by Kat Moller and Allison West.
Finally, IHRA welcomed Top Fuel back to its lineup on Friday as the Lagana brothers put on an incredible show for the Michigan fans. One year after making the fastest pass in IHRA history at this very same event, Dom Lagana went back to work with a tremendous 4.689-second pass at 314.88 mph, crossing the finish line in a bright ball of fire after suffering an engine issue. Brother Bobby Lagana Jr. had an evening-best 4.717-second pass at 320.94 mph.
Martin, Mich. - Qualifying from the 2014 IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park
Top Fuel Dragster - 1. Dom Lagana 4.689, 314.88; 2. Bobby Lagana Jr. 4.717, 320.94
Pro Stock - 1. Scott Hintz 6.259, 222.29; 2. Cary Goforth 6.294, 222.31; 3. Todd Hoerner 6.335, 222.52; 4. John DeFlorian 6.340, 221.42; 5. Kevin Bealko 6.374, 220.37; 6. Pete Berner 6.378, 218.98; 7. Matt Bertsch 6.379, 218.24; 8. Dean Goforth 10.450, 82.73; 9. Brad Waddle 15.707, 51.40
Nitro Harley - 1. Mike Pelrine 6.370, 218.22; 2. Randal Andras 6.412, 212.83; 3. Mike Scott 6.413, 216.14; 4. Mark Cox 6.565, 221.42; 5. Lyle Newton 6.725, 191.31; 6. Alvin Kobernusz 6.833, 193.02; 7. Jim Fagan 8.175, 132.20
Nitro Altered - 1. Ron Maroney 6.258, 207.01; 2. Shane Harter 6.342, 190.54; 3. Troy Martin 6.364, 197.17; 4. Don Blackshear 6.721, 202.44; 5. Kyle Hough 7.267, 130.29; 6. Mike Hilsabeck 7.377, 185.02; 7. Troy Ray 9.018, 122.53
Jet Dragster - 1. Marisha Falk 5.827, 274.74; 2. Elaine Larsen 5.845, 272.15; 3. Kat Moller 5.912, 270.40; 4. Allison West 6.068, 203.49
The IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals will resume on Saturday with sportsman racing throughout the day followed by final eliminations in all Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series professional classes beginning at 6 p.m.
After a long day of practice and a shortened qualifying session Friday, Performance Tech Motorsports owns three of the top-10 starting positions for Round 9 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda on Saturday at Road America. The team struggled to find the best setups and get in a good groove for the long, high-speed track in Elkhart Lake. To make the situation worse, almost half of the 20-minute qualifying session was wiped out due to a red flag. But Performance Tech did what it does best: Perform. Rookie Hayden Duerson kicked it into gear by qualifying third.
"Qualifying went really well," Duerson said. "We've been struggling with car setup this whole weekend, but we made some changes before qualifying that really paid off. We were very quick; we actually had pole up until the last lap when we got knocked off. I'm really looking forward to what we'll be able to do in the race tomorrow."
Hayden's father, Craig Duerson, spent most of the first practice session in the pits but bounced back to qualifying eighth.
"Overall Performance Tech Motorsports pulled together really well for qualifying," Duerson said. "We were struggling with setup during testing yesterday and practice this morning too. We all put our heads together though, and we came up with a package that was comfortable to drive and also had a good pace. I'm proud of Hayden for qualifying third. My qualifying efforts were aborted by a little incident, but overall I'm happy because the team showed that they don't give up. I'm going to have a great car in the race tomorrow."
Robert Alon qualified ninth.
"We changed setups almost every session leading up to qualifying," Alon said. "But we finally honed in on a good one for the qualifying session. We didn't have a lot of green flag time during the session, but we made the best of it. I feel like we have a good car for the race tomorrow, and I'm not too far back in the field. The big goal tomorrow is going to be to make as many passes as possible."
Joel Janco found himself in 12th and fifth in Lites Masters.
"We had a pretty good qualifying session, despite being stopped by a red flag," Janco said. "We were able to get five laps in, and we got in our fastest lap of the weekend during qualifying. I'm hoping that we have a clean race tomorrow and get a ton of track time."
Jon Brownson suffered an engine problem and was unable to record a lap. He will start the race in 24th.
"Qualifying was short, and not so sweet for me today," Brownson said. "I went out after the red flag was lifted, and immediately felt my engine turn off after I made it through Turn 1. I limped home to pit lane, but it was a blown engine. It was an unhappy end to the day, but if we can get a new engine in by tomorrow we'll look forward to having lots of passing opportunities here at Road America, where I've won before."
Despite the issues, Team Principal Brent O'Neill has confidence his team is back on the right track and ready for the 30-minute race Saturday.
"We weren't so good the first session," O'Neill said. "But the good thing about our whole crew and all the guys driving the cars, we just put our heads down and get back to where we need to be, and everyone improved throughout the day.
"Hayden made a couple of little mistakes and that's OK, and he ended P3. We've struggled the last two days, but he has a good car and he and the rest of the guys are all going to have something for them tomorrow. It's good. It was a good day today."
The 30-minute Race 1 takes place at 10:40 a.m. Saturday, August 9, and the 45-minute Race 2 is scheduled for 7:55 a.m. Sunday, August 10. Follow live timing and scoring at scoring.imsa.com/prototype-lites/ and also follow the action live at @IMSALive on Twitter.
Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) will take on some of the world’s best racers in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) round at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Tex.
During the Lone Star Le Mans weekend – Sept. 19 and 20 – the Florida-based team will compete in both the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race and the FIA WEC Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
“This is exciting for ESM and Tequila Patrón to get a feel and a taste for the WEC and the one-off race at COTA," stated owner/driver Scott Sharp. "This will be exciting for us to compete against other P2 cars from around the world and in a different series. The No. 1 car is pretty much out of the TUDOR points and the No. 2 car is a little bit closer, the timing worked out well for us to compete in the WEC race and we want to see how we compete against some of the best sports car racers in the world. This will be a good experience for us; a good way to test the waters.
Continuing its success in the IMSA championship race, ESM’s TUDOR Championship entry, the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b, will be driven by Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek. That race will take place at 11:35 a.m. CT on Saturday the 20th.
But it’s Saturday night that will hold the global fight, with Scott Sharp, Brown and Ryan Dalziel co-driving the flagship No. 1 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b in the Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas WEC race.
“We’re bringing Tequila Patrón into another racing series," added Ed Brown. "It gives us more exposure and more fans. I’m doing a double-header there in the No. 2 car in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the No. 1 car in the WEC. It will be a great weekend. We’re looking forward to it.”
Becoming a global contender with approximately one month to prepare is not going to be easy for ESM, as the team will need to make several modifications to the No. 1 entry that currently runs in the TUDOR Championship. The team will run on different tires, a smaller restrictor, modify the aerodynamics and install a different electronics package to comply with the rules set by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).
Andrew Novich of Comprent Motor Sports earned his second pole of the 2014 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season Friday at Road America. Novich, from Novato, California, will start on the inside of the front row in Round 9 of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Development Series race Saturday, Aug. 9. He turned a top lap of 2 minutes, 5.662 seconds in his No. 61 Elan DP02 machine. Novich started from the pole position in June at Kansas Speedway and is on a quest for his first victory of the year in the Lites 1 class.
"Qualifying was awesome for us, obviously," Novich said. "We were lucky that I was able to get a tow from several drivers. These cars are equal, so you need every little bit of help you can get to edge out your competitors. (Mikhail) Goikhberg has been a rocket ship ever since Watkins Glen, and it feels like he's impossible to beat."
Championship leader Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, will start second Saturday in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry after a top qualifying lap of 2:05.953. Novich sits fifth in championship standings, 68 points behind Goikhberg.
"There are a lot of fast corners here, and moments where you wonder if you're going to make it through the corner," Novich said. "On the other hand, there's Turns 5 and 8 that are very technical and slow. Comprent Motor Sports did a great job setting up the No. 61 car. They gave me a car that was capable of going out and winning the pole, and I'm so happy we were able to execute today."
Hayden Duerson, from Gulfport, Mississippi, qualified third at 2:06.022 in the No. 39Performance Tech Motorsports car. Christian Potolicchio, from Hallandale Beach, Florida, was fourth at 2:06.142 in the No. 2 8Star Motorsports entry. Richard Fant, from Houston, rounded out the top five and was the top Lites 1 Masters (drivers 40 and older) competitor at 2:06.293 in the No. 44 Ferrari of Houston Race Team car.
Las Vegas resident Todd Slusher of ONE Motorsports earned his first Lites 2 class pole position during the 20-minute qualifying session Friday. Slusher, driving the No. 62 car, turned a top lap of 2:09.829 on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit at Road America.
"We had a bad start to qualifying today because my car actually broke on the way down to pre-grid," Slusher said. "The ONE Motorsports crew came down and took everything apart right away. They had the car fixed with 15 minutes left in qualifying, so I basically had four laps to go out and get the job done.
"My final lap was the best one because I had new tires. Once the tires were warm, I let some traffic around me so that I had clear track and wouldn't get in the way of anyone else's flying laps. I couldn't believe it when I looked down at my dash and got my best time of the whole weekend."
Round 9 of the season, a 30-minute race, starts at 10:40 a.m. (ET) Saturday. Round 10, a 45-minute race, begins at 8:05 a.m. Sunday.
When Andre Belzile crashed heavily July 20 on the Streets of Toronto, the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season reached a crossroads for GT Racing.
It was the second time this season one of the Quebec-based team's cars had been heavily damaged during a race. And the calendar showed the team had less than three weeks to repair Belzile's 911 GT3 Cup car.
The team spirit already was ebbing due to disappointing results through the first five rounds of the season. But instead of writing off Belzile's car and the 2014 season, GT Racing decided to fight. To work. To enjoy racing.
Belzile's No. 93 Platinum Cup (2014 model cars) Porsche was repaired in time for Rounds 7 and 8 of the championship this weekend during the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières(GP3R) at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, a vital round for the most successful Quebec-based team in the series. GT also fields the No. 2 entry for Platinum Cup standout Etienne Borgeat.
"It's my job to pick everyone up and make sure we're still there for the next event," team owner Eric Cote said. "With Belzile crashing his car, the team spirit got stronger because that's a challenge to get the car fixed in the little time we have. So it kind of bonded all the guys a little more."
The unity at GT Racing, based in the Montreal suburb of Mirabel, should come as little surprise considering the team's history.
Cote was an employee at GT since the team was formed in 2004. He bought the team from owner-driver Borgeat at the end of 2008, and Montreal resident Borgeat became his first customer. In the early days of the team, many of the mechanics were volunteers, forming a band of brothers in the pits with great zeal for the sport.
"The guys that are with me when I started this, they were all coming for free to the racetrack," Cote said. "They all have their hearts into the team and into the racing. Nowadays, with the bigger events, they're getting paid now. When it all started, it was all volunteers.
"I do this out of passion. I wake up in the morning and I want to go to work, and it's because it's what I like. Not a lot of people can say that in the world. So I'm very, very lucky to be able to do this and also have the support from the people around me to let me do this. I got married last Decenber, so my wife supports me, which is good. The guys around me, at the end of the day, we work together, so we're also good buddies and we can take a day and go out and have fun. That does a lot for us surviving the years."
GT Racing dabbled in GRAND-AM competition in 2006 and 2007 before racing with a two-car team in the Canadian Touring Car Championship from 2007-12 with Borgeat and other drivers. Borgeat won the CTCC title in 2011, but he always had aspirations to go endurance racing.
|Andre Belzile joined GT Racing for the 2014 season.|
So Cote decided to buy a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with the idea of fielding it in six-hour club events and other Canadian endurance races. But the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin mushroomed in 2012 after its first season in 2011, and growing grid sizes and increased competitiveness attracted Cote and Borgeat.
GT Racing competed in the CTCC and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin in 2012, with Borgeat finishing second to J-F Laberge in the GT3 Platinum Cup standings.
The team lured Laberge into its lineup for the 2013 season. Laberge finished fourth and Borgeat fifth in the championship last season, with Montreal resident Laberge winning two races.
GT Racing grew into a three-car lineup in 2014 with the addition of Belzile, from Drummondville, Quebec.
"That makes sense for GT Racing because of the transport costs, the transporter holds all three cars; it makes sense to go with three," Cote said of his growing team. "We're pretty much the only race team in Quebec that can do this all year round. It's a little nice to say that."
The first big crash of the season for the team came at the season opener in May atCanadian Tire Motorsport Park. Laberge's car was damaged beyond repair. He was unhurt, but he hasn't raced since in the series.
"That's a bummer," Cote said of Laberge. "He's a good driver. We miss him."
But Cote and the entire GT Racing team have never stopped working during the tough times. The late hours, bloody knuckles and sweaty brows are worth it when Cote and his crew see Borgeat and Belzile on track - especially this weekend at Trois-Rivières, the only event in the series in Quebec.
"All the Porsche teams right now, even if they're English-speaking or French-speaking, we have a very good group right now in the Canada Cup," Cote said. "All the guys of GT3 Cup Canada are working hard. Trois-Rivières is somewhere we need to shine."
McWilliams on pole for AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series doubleheader at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Former Grand Prix star Jeremy McWilliams secured the pole position for this weekend's AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series doubleheader at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. The Harley-Davidson of Bloomington wild card entry showcased the familiar skills GP fans have long associated with the No. 99, even if the big XR1200 the number plate is adorned to this weekend is far removed from the prototype machinery on which he originally earned his reputation.
McWilliams, who earned a victory in last year's Brickyard doubleheader, set the pace in the morning practice with a quick lap of 1:50.037. He then backed that performance up by topping qualifying at 1:49.370.
"Indy has been really good to me," McWilliams said. "And I have a really good team behind me. Bloomington are such an enthusiastic mob and it didn't take much to come back. When they said we've got an entry, I didn't think twice about it. The bike really worked well last year and we haven't touched it. It actually hasn't left the shop. That's its first outing of the year. So it's nice to be competitive on it."
McWilliams will be joined on the front row by Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson's dual threats, Steve Rapp and Ben Carlson. Defending champ Rapp was a mere 0.063 seconds behind McWilliams with Carlson just another 0.057 seconds in arrears. In fact, the front two rows were within a second of pole with championship rivals Danny Eslick on the Ruthless Racing XR1200 and Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson's Tyler O'Hara set to open the weekend's two critical races from fourth and sixth, respectively. Sandwiched in between is young Gage McAllister, who demonstrated his ability to exploit the draft en route to a Daytona podium in the season opener.
The front runners are all predicting a spectacular race with times tight, speeds high and tire life in question.
"After about five laps we have a big drop off," McWilliams explained. "I think that's maybe just to do with the rubber on the track at the moment, and that might get better as the weekend goes on hopefully. But pole position really doesn't mean much. It really depends on how well you manage the tire over race distance at the moment. It is only a ten-lap race, but as far as I remember, it's a pretty hectic ten-lap race.
"I expect these guys - Steve, Ben, Tyler and Danny in particular - to be tough. It's going to be tight. You couldn't really call it. Last year I was just in the right place at the right time. When you're as close as four or five together, first place can go to fifth."
Second qualifier Rapp thinks he has more speed in the bike.
"The bike was good," Rapp said. "I made a little mistake on my fast lap coming through on the fast left-handers. You only get like two or three fast laps so I wasn't able to recover from that. But it's good. It should be a fun race."
Teammate Carlson knows he's strong at Indianapolis.
"Indy has always been good - we've run good here for years," Carlson said. "I've been on the box a couple times throughout the last three years. I feel like we've got everything working as good as we can at the moment and I feel good. I feel like I have a bike that can get up front."
Kyle Wyman heads Row 3 on the KWR/Millennium Technologies bike, followed by brother Travis Wyman aboard the Harv's Harley-Davidson XR1200. Wyman's teammate, PETRONAS-backed Malaysian newcomer Ramden Rosli, rounds out the row after quickly adapting to the big twin.
ChiliPepperRacing.com's Hayden Schultz completed the qualifying top ten.
Saturday's 10-lap contest is scheduled for a 4:20 p.m. local time (1:20 p.m. PT) start.
Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama, was the fastest in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires field during the second practice session from Road America, in preparation for Round Nine of the Championship. Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, and Michael Cooper, of Syossett, New York, were second and third, respectively.
Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda driver Robert Alon turned 16, took the keys to his mom's car and discovered his passion for cars and speed. That passion led him to racing.
"It was just the most fun I'd ever had," Alon said. "I was 16, my mom gave me the keys to her car, and I discovered I liked to drive fast. Then at 18 I went to the Universal Technical Institute to learn about mechanics, and I started karting."
After graduation, Los Angeles resident Alon decided becoming a driver was his career path of choice, admitting he makes a terrible mechanic. Alon, now 24, jumped from go-karts to the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series this season with Performance Tech Motorsports.
"I actually almost quit karting because I didn't feel like I was progressing," Alon said. "Even in my first test with Performance Tech, I could tell I was progressing. Having someone there like Brent (team principal Brent O'Neill) or JJ (driver coach Jonatan Jorge), who knows what's going on and can give me direction, really helped. I would get so frustrated when I was karting because I would bust my ass every weekend and not get any better. It's helped having people tell me what to do to get better."
Having the right people behind him has allowed Alon to find speed and flatten the learning curve quickly despite his late start in the sport. He is second in the Lites 1 Driver Championship entering Rounds 9 and 10 this weekend at Road America, with runner-up finishes in June at Watkins Glen and July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
"I don't know how to say this other than I didn't think I'd be doing so well," Alon said. "I wanted it, but I didn't know what I was getting myself into. So many of these guys have been running karts and racing forever. I started at 18. But I think I've leveled the playing field and have proved I can run upfront."
Alon has still found a few things surprising while being backed by a well-seasoned team with plenty of professionals to teach him.
"Something that took me by surprise was the speed," Alon said. "The cars can take the corners at a very high speed. The amount of downforce they have was also a surprise to me. Speed is what I'm working on getting better at, too, speed and lap times."
One thing that was not a surprise was his ability to advance positions during the start and his natural comfort at overtaking, vital skills needed to be a successful driver.
"Maybe I got it from driving through the freeway traffic in L.A.," Alon said, joking. "Maybe it's natural. It's just something I've always felt comfortable doing."
Alon's plans for the future involve becoming a professional driver. Ideally, Alon wants to switch from open- to closed-cockpit cars and drive something German.
"I want to drive for Porsche one day," Alon said. "I've always been a fan of the team and the car. I own one, and I just think they make a good product all around. I'd like to be at Le Mans one day."
John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, was the fastest driver during the opening Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires practice at Road America, in preparation for Rounds Nine and 10, part of the Road Race Showcase. Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, and Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, completed the top three spots.