Kristian Aleixo: In The Driver’s Seat: April Edition

Courtesy of: Kristian Aleixo

In 2020, Kickin’ The Tires welcomes a new feature called ‘In The Driver’s Seat’ where a number of drivers will come on board and share their thoughts, race season and more with you the fans each month. Our mission is to provide a glimpse into their lives in and beyond the driver’s seat.

Hey race fans! It is now mid-April and if you’re anything like me, Covid-19 has had you cooped up inside long enough to start forgetting which day it is several times a week. It feels good though to be able to fire up the ol’ keyboard and give a virtual fist-bump to you all… other fans of the sport who miss it just as much as I do! Firstly, I want to say that I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe and that if you are able to, you continue to exercise the necessary measures to keep it that way. Massive thanks to all of the “Essential Employees” for keeping the country afloat since the beginning of the pandemic.

The quarantine hasn’t been easy on anyone but I recently read an article (you know, since I had the time and all…) about Sir Isaac Newton and how he used his time in isolation during the Bubonic Plague to invent calculus and the laws of motion and it inspired me to make the most of this extended off-season. I live 6 minutes east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and It’s been really eerie driving through my neighborhood and not seeing any “Is it May yet?” billboards anywhere but here is what I’ve been up to since the world went all “I am Legend” on us!

It became apparent to me that C-19 was going to place some heavy adjustments on the 2020 season during the lead up to the Road to Indy/IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend. My manager and I knew we didn’t have the budget to compete in the season opener, which I was OK with because of our financial limitations. Aside from the part that utilizes the airport runway, it’s a super tight street course, and I’ve seen enough bottle-necking going into Turn 1 to know with a degree of certainty that a lot of cars would take some damage. For a driver with just a few sponsors and a small budget, it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

Still, I planned on making the trip and watching from the media center because making your rounds in the pits is always a good way to let teams and owners know that you’re still available should an opportunity arrive – plus, my race engineer lives there so I had a place to couch surf and it would’ve been nice just to catch up. And then…that Thursday hit. Having a race to attend gradually went from being in a somewhat manageable amount of jeopardy to ‘this ain’t happening’ (justifiably) overnight.

I was saddened for the world, saddened for the U.S. and selfishly, a little bummed for myself. After all, St. Pete signifies the end to another restless off-season and I know it won’t be long before we are sitting at one of the custom seat shops in Indianapolis getting fitted for our Taautus cockpit. Once the initial shock wore off and the CDC guidelines had been set, I accepted there was nothing left to do but tap into my inner “Isaac Newton” and use the time wisely! The quarantine came with some obvious cons, like a truncated series schedule, and some not so obvious ones.

For instance, I was slated for a couple of speaking engagements at Rolls-Royce North America Headquarters around PTSD and some of the things I learned about coping with it from my time at war in Iraq, and that’s been pushed back to an undetermined date. We had planned to release the children’s book, “Faster & Faster: A children’s guide to Motorsport!”, that I wrote with Robby Unser on Indy 500 weekend but that’s been delayed until late August.

Speaking of August, now that it’s the new May, the USF2000 event at Lucas Oil Raceway is now on August 22nd and the Indy Pro 2000 race at Gateway is now the weekend after. This gets a little tricky because I was kinda looking forward to having the 3 months in between- – mainly because it alleviates a lot of the pressure to raise sponsorship for back to back races, not to mention, LOR can tear up a lot of cars so there’s no guarantee that there will even be one available to rent come the following week. Finally, the quarantine meant that I’d have to take an extended hiatus from simulator training at RaceCraft1 as well as physical training in the gym.

But, as with most things in life, it hasn’t been all bad! The extra time on my hands has allowed me to start my very own podcast via my association with Amplify Indy, entitled “The Outside Groove”, which will be available on iTunes and Spotify in a week or so. I filed the paperwork for my idea for a Foundation for Disabled/chronically ill kids who aspire to be pro athletes, that had been rolling around in my head for a while. Having the time to put together a business plan for that has surely been a blessing. I’ve welcomed a new partnership with Carbon Neutral Indiana and I’m really excited to see where that goes!

My management and I have also started exploring putting together an Indoor Auto Racing Championship presented by VP Fuel winter program to better promote our New York City based sponsor Gutzy Organic (Look for them at Safeway!). It’d be pretty sweet to hit some of the fastest indoor tracks in the northeast like the PPL Center and Atlantic City and we’re currently looking at some potential test dates at Pocono Raceway in the summer to prepare. Comment below how you guys have been winning your quarantine!

Before I sign off, I just want to say thank you to everybody who is doing their part in reducing the spread of the Coronavirus. We are in this together. Stay safe, love your friends and family (from a distance) and I’ll see y’all next month!

Kristian Aleixo is a Racer, Reality TV Personality with Sharp Entertainment and author of the autobiography “My Life in Story: The Outside Groove” foreword by Willy T. Ribbs and the upcoming kid’s book “Faster & Faster: A children’s guide to Motorsport” introduced by Robby Unser. He is also an Iraq War Veteran, Type 1 diabetic and proud Brand Ambassador of Gutzy Organic and Gleaner’s Food Bank of Indiana.

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