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First Jewish/Israeli NASCAR Driver

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When I was growing up, a popular anti-Semitic joke was, "What’s the shortest book in the world?" Answer: "The book of Jewish sports heros". Perhaps you have heard that joke too. My teenage daughter tells me that joke is still being told. 

Believe it or not, stock car racing, and more specifically, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) racing is the #2 watched televised sport behind professional football.  It has been shown that 40% of NASCAR’s viewers have children under the age of 18.  While other televised sports may have a few Jewish athletes, at its elite levels, Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series, NASCAR has never had a Jewish driver.  Since its rise in popularity in the 1980's, countless Jewish kids (and their parents) have watched the sport without a role model. 

Recently, I was inspired to do something about that.  I have found an excellent candidate and a race team willing to give him a chance. Alon Day is a 24 year old native of Israel.  He has an impressive record on NASCAR’s European Circuit.  He was named Rookie of the Year and has been named Israel’s Sportsman of the Year.  In May of this year, Alon was selected as one of eleven young drivers to participate in the NASCAR Next program, a program wherein NASCAR features this year’s upcoming stars of the sport. 

It takes a lot of money to field a competitive race car and support crew.  In NASCAR, unlike most other professional sports teams, it is primarily the driver’s responsibility to raise the funds necessary to compete.  Such funds come from businesses, organizations, and individuals who buy “advertising” space on the driver’s race car and uniform.   

I am not a professional fundraiser, but I am a friend and advisor to Alon Day.  I have made a commitment to Alon to secure for him sufficient funds from sponsors to allow him to showcase his talents as a NASCAR driver.   (See the link below to a recent article in USA Today.)

While NASCAR has been bending over backwards to provide whatever non-financial support they can offer to help Alon, the same cannot be said for the companies who are owned by or cater to the Jewish Community, or claim to be friends of Israel.  A large part of the problem may be that without a Jewish/Israeli driver, NASCAR is viewed as a sport without Jewish fans.  NASCAR is no longer just a southern “redneck” sport.  Three of the top 5 NASCAR markets, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, are outside of the south.  The geographic distribution of NASCAR fans reflects that 58% of such fans do not live in the south.  It may also be that potential sponsors prefer to take a “wait and see” attitude.

Alon’s debut race in NASCAR’s XFINITY series is scheduled for August 13 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.  He is scheduled to follow that race with another on August 27 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and five more races until the end of the 2016 season in November.

In order to make sure that Alon can get on the track and show what he can do, I have personally guaranteed the minimum required funds from my retirement account.  My request for $75,000 hopefully will allow Alon to keep racing until businesses are willing to buy advertising on Alon’s car and uniform to fund his career.  Without such financial support, Alon’s NASCAR career will be short lived.

In the absence of funds for the purchase of commercial advertising, Alon’s race car will be covered with logos promoting Jewish and Israeli charities.  For example, for his debut race(s), Alon’s car will be promoting support for the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League.

If adequate funding to support Alon cannot be raised, Jews worldwide and Israelis will remain without presence in NASCAR.  ALON DAY POISED TO MAKE NASCAR HISTORY


David Levin
Sarasota, FL

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