As the UK moved towards a second lockdown last week, Alex packed his bags and flew to the United States to compete as part of NASCAR's Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
A dream he has held for a long time, Alex started this journey when he was invited by NASCAR to attend as their guest at the Daytona 500 in February.
With the world suddenly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, his plans to go to the U.S. to race looked like they would have to be put on hold. Then NASCAR had to postpone its planned races from March until it could restart in May as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.
Having raced for two years in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the next step up the NASCAR racing ladder was to race in the U.S. in the ARCA Menards Series West.
After a number of opportunities had to be cancelled due to the ever-increasing challenges brought about by COVID-19, Alex got the news he had waited for. He would be able to contest the final round of the 2020 season in Phoenix on the 7th of November.
Alex would drive the #12 BELFOR Property Restoration Toyota Camry in the final championship race for Bill McAnally Racing, who has won the ARCA Menards Series West title a total of nine times from 1999 to 2019.
The team was based in Roseville, California, over 5,100 miles from his hometown of Southam in Warwickshire, England, Alex’s first challenge was to get there. With help from NASCAR and the White House, Alex was granted access to the U.S., whose borders are currently closed to regular visitors. As an elite athlete, Alex was granted special access but would still need to pass a COVID-19 rapid test on arrival or be subject to a fourteen-day quarantine.
The self-isolation Alex had endured for weeks before and the rigorous use of current COVID-19 preventive measures on the 11-hour flight to San Francisco, Alex was rewarded with a negative test on his arrival in the U.S., thanks also in part to the Director of the San Francisco International Airport, Ivar Satero who was waiting for Alex with his manager as he exited U.S. Customs.
Alex and his manager Ryan Johnston also were on a mini-tour with BELFOR Property Restoration as they visited employees in Sacramento & Bakersfield, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and then on to Anaheim, California.
Once at the Phoenix Raceway, Alex had only a one-hour practice session on the morning of Saturday, November 7th that enabled him to gain some experience of the car and the one-mile oval track before the 100-lap Arizona Lottery 100.
As the green flag dropped, Alex immediately had to figure out how to race the oval and the other competitors. The first 50 laps was a steep learning experience, with Alex figuring out how the car handled in traffic and over a longer run. In the later stages, his car started to get tight which resulted in him dropping back a few places.
At the halfway point Alex was running 19th. After feedback from Alex over the first run, the BMR crew made some changes at the midpoint of the race which saw Alex start to fight his way through the field, overtaking the 2020 Champion and running lap times which would have put him in the Top-10. As the chequered flag came out, he crossed the line in 13th place.
“It is crazy to think that in February I was at Daytona as a spectator and now I have just got back from my first race in the U.S., at the finale in Phoenix. With everything that has happened this year, I'm extremely fortunate and grateful to be racing at all, let alone chasing a dream I have had since I was a kid to race in the U.S. I’m looking ahead to a NASCAR career, and I am very excited to get to work on 2021 and look forward to announcing our plans soon!”, commented Alex.