In Israel, video games used to be the closest people could get to motorsports as racing was outlawed throughout the country until 2012.
Enter Alon Day.
When the 25-year-old Tel Aviv native takes the green flag on Sunday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, he will become the first Israeli born driver to compete in NASCAR and that journey began in the digital world before transitioning to the physical one.
Day will drive for BK Racing in the No. 23 with Earth Water Limited providing the funding. But again, this story begins on gaming platforms and an understanding family.
“I think I have an awesome dad who realized that this was my passion, even when I just played video games as a normal kid, nine or 10 years old,” Day said on Friday at Sonoma. “He gave me as a birthday prize the opportunity to drive in go‑karts.”
Even though racing has been outlawed, the sport remains hugely popular on television and in the media. Day embodies their hope as a motorsports loving culture. In fact, he was voted the Israeli athlete of the year in 2016 once Day began experiencing success in NASCAR’s Euro and Xfinity divisions.
“I think the fact that it’s illegal makes it so big,” Day said. “I think every illegal thing in the world, you always have more people who want it, you know. The fact that it was illegal in Israel makes people want it even more and more, and now when it’s legal, it’s kind of exploding. That’s the reason why we have so many fans in Israel who’s cheering and watching NASCAR now, and until a few years ago, I don’t think people knew what NASCAR is.
“They just think its people who turn left, and now they realize the sport. It’s a good thing, and it’s definitely progress, and I think you can see the progress, especially when they vote for me for the athlete of the year. It’s a big award. It’s probably the biggest prize, the biggest award the sportsman in Israel can win, so it shows you how we’ve progressed, that’s for sure.”
Ordinarily, it would be a tall task to expect BK Racing to contend but Day once took a Carl Long MDM Motorsports Dodge to the top-5 in the rain at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
It’s still a lot to expect the same thing to happen on Sunday but Day is an expert road racer.
“You know, last year I came to Mid‑Ohio, and I thought I have no chances of winning at all. I came with an all Dodge car, and I thought maybe 25th will be like a victory for me,” Day said. “I realized in the middle of the race I’m fighting for the win of the whole race, and finishing 13th was beyond my expectations. So since then I’m not really expecting any ‑‑ I’m not giving myself any target. I know I’m not in the best equipment. That’s for sure. Everybody knows that. Winning is not ‑‑ it’s not going to be ‑‑ it’s not even in my head.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can in the equipment that I’m driving and have the best result. I think the first task first of all is to stay out of trouble. This is my first race. I’m not familiar with the car, with the drivers, with the championship, with the truck, so try to get in easy, and as I said, try to get a good result.”