EXCLUSIVE: EuroNASCAR Champ Alon Day Looking For U.S. Team But Worries For Wife, Family, Friends Facing War, Terrorism In Israel

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Four-time NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (EuroNASCAR) Champion Alon Day stopped off at Daytona International Speedway to check out potential American driving opportunities with one of NASCAR’s top three touring divisions and to pick up his 2022 championship ring – but the Israeli-born racer’s heart was elsewhere.

“So … I won the 2022 championship but then I never got the ring because of the COVID and everything that happened,” Day said, holding up his hand to show off his new golden bling. “They gave it to me today, so I feel special today. That’s my fourth championship and I got to the point that I realized I am done with Euro. I need something bigger. I need something better. And obviously, the next natural step will be to come here to the States.”

Alon day euronascar championship ring. Photo by seth eggert/kickin' the tires

Day said he has done some sportscar and endurance racing, but his love is driving stock cars and he has proven that he is good at it. His two Cup Series finishes aren’t indicative of his talent level, as funding issues forced him to drive with backmarker teams, including the now-defunct BK Racing. In the Xfinity Series, Day was on his way to a Top 5 finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when he was spun on the final turn of the final lap.

“The goal now is, you know, to find our way back, back to the cars here in the States,” he said, admitting the process is not easy. “I don’t know. I mean, we will see. It’s kind of hard, but I’m sure I have, you know, a lot to deliver. I’m a road course guy. I’m a road course specialist. I’m coming from Europe. I’m coming from a road course background, GT, endurance, touring car, stock car, everything. And I’m sure I can deliver and bring some good things here and in the race.”

While Day’s focus that day was on being presented with his championship ring and meeting with potential racing partners, his heart and most of his thoughts were heavily focused on his homeland, which is still being relentlessly attacked by Hamas terrorists. He was there just two days earlier and will return to Israel this week to be with his wife.

Born in Israel and living in a kibbutz (village) for most of his life near Gaza, where Hamas terrorists paraglided in on October 7, murdering over 1,200 people, Day has endured death after death of his family and friends. He’s attended numerous funerals and has taken shelter multiple times as rockets rained down from the sky, hoping Israel’s Iron Dome would stop them. Despite these personal tragedies, something many might not be willing to share publicly, Day opened up to Kickin’ the Tires in an exclusive interview about how his wife likely saved their lives and what life is like right now in Israel. So far, he’s lost 10 people close to him and he realizes he is lucky to still be alive.

“I’ve seen it firsthand,” Day said. “I think it doesn’t matter how many words I will tell about this story, nothing can express what happened on October 7. Obviously, everybody knows exactly what happened but I used to live in a house in the kibbutz, in a village just next to the border in Gaza and thank God I wasn’t living there at that time. But I knew everybody, all the friends, my neighbors and my friends. And I lost quite a lot of friends. It was tough. Again, I cannot even express what happened. But it was a tough, tough week at the beginning, you know, to go from funeral to funeral to funeral and I have four friends that already for 133 days as hostages in Gaza. There is nothing, it’s more than a human mind can digest. You know what I mean, to think about the fact that we are here, we are at Daytona racing, it’s wonderful and somebody, a civilian, an innocent guy is sitting right now in Gaza surrounded by terrorists and bombings and inside a war. It is something that the human mind cannot even realize.

“I was at home at the time *October 7), I live in Ashdod, which is around 30 minutes from the border with Gaza, so we got tons of rockets at that day …”

But the rockets didn’t just stop after the first day. They have continued to come, destroying homes and killing his fellow Israelis. For Day, he is a decorated former soldier with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). He was given the opportunity to become a fighter pilot but chose to continue racing. After he was later married, he and his wife decided to move from his home in Kfar Aza.

“I lived in a house in the kibbutz Kfar Aza for a bit more than a year,” Day said. “I left that house because my wife didn’t want to live there. She kind of saved our lives, or we could have been hostages now, too.”

He shared a photo of the home he would leave at his wife’s behest. It was destroyed by one of thousands of rockets that overwhelmed Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. Day took a second to pause after looking again at the photo he had shared.

“Even at my house, we are getting bombed, thousands, I am talking about thousands of rockets since October 7,” Day continued. “They are flying straight into our houses. You don’t know the feeling; suddenly you hear a siren and you need to run. And when I am saying run, you need to run for your life, literally, you need to run for your life. And this is something that we don’t deserve. You know, people here don’t know the feeling of running for your life.

“The neighborhood that I lived in, usually young people live there and I have a lot of friends and neighbors that at 6:30 in the morning, somebody came with a glider or, you know, invaded through tunnels through the border, get into their houses and start shooting everybody, slaughtered everybody, beheaded. Just crazy stuff that just thinking about it makes me feel sick. And, for what? They just didn’t even woke up in the morning, you know, 6:30 in the morning and they died for, I don’t know why. I really don’t know, just because of hate.”

Day said that despite the fear for his family in Israel and his desire to race, a big part of why he came to Speed Weeks at Daytona was to help spread awareness about antisemitism and hatred towards Jewish people. It’s something he helped fight last year when a group called Goyim Defense League stood across from Daytona International Speedway holding signs supporting antisemitism. This year, the fight is much closer to home. Literally.

“The hostages, we want to bring them home now and I am trying to raise awareness,” Day said, reflecting on what his and others’ lives are like living in Israel. “Antisemitism is rising right now in the United States and worldwide since October 7. I want to talk about it. I want to bring it to the table. I want people to realize what is going on.

“I cannot say what is going on right now with the hostages’ families. You cannot even imagine that it is your son, your daughter, your father, your mother that got kidnapped together. This is something that even I, an Israeli, cannot even imagine how they feel. It must be a terrible, terrifying situation to be in.

The antisemitism watchdog group, Anti-Defamation League, estimates there has been a 337 percent increase in antisemitic events since Hamas descended on Israel and December 7, compared to the same time period the year before.  Additionally, the American Jewish Committee reported 46 percent of American Jews have changed their behaviors due to fear of antisemitism. Reports also indicate that 24 percent of Jewish college students felt uncomfortable or unsafe at school because they are Jewish and 1-in-4 have stopped carrying displaying or wearing items that would indicate their Jewish faith.

“I you just said it, I think it is education,” Day explained as to why there are more antisemitic events occurring around the country and the world. “As an Israeli, I don’t talk about stuff that happens in America. You live here, you know what the problems are, you have your own ideas. People who live here, they don’t know what is going on exactly in Israel and they still comment. They still comment, and they are still saying their ideas, and sometimes, there is so much disinformation and misinformation going on right now, especially on social media. Just wrong stuff, like a snowball. It’s going and getting bigger and bigger and bigger and it is not even fact, it is just like lies.  I think that is the main problem right now … that is the main reason who you see those type of antisemitism incidents.

“I am a man on a mission right now, I want to talk about it, even if people feel uncomfortable, I want them to feel uncomfortable, this is a fact what is going on right now in Israel. Next week, I am going back. It is still my country; I love Israel. I am Israeli; I am a proud Israeli. I am proud Jewish.”

Asked when he thought the end of the war between Hamas and Israel would come, Day was blunt, saying it likely won’t happen until Hamas is eliminated. He did not blame Palestine, expressing kind words for many of the Palestinian people also affected by Hamas’s acts of terrorism. He said America and Israel are doing the right thing joining together to fight Hamas.

“Obviously, there are so many innocent people on both sides that deserve to live a happy life, you know, just a normal life and the fact that a terrorist group is holding function as a government of Gaza, that’s, you know, that’s the issue,” Day said. “And I think that everything will be over, I hope, I really hope everything will be over when we get rid of Hamas.

“Before that, Israel was a wonderful country, it is still a wonderful country. Just living life like everybody else, same like here. Thank God, my family is safe. I have a lot of friends fighting in Gaza, trying to do their best to get the hostages back. I think this is the first war in the world that we actually fight underground and above ground at the same time … hopefully, it will end soon, as soon as possible.”

Alon day discusses what he and thousands of israelis have faced since hamas attacked his country on october 7, 2023. Photo by seth eggert/kickin' the tires

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