Lewis Hamilton is the most talented driver of the moment, that is what many people say. But, at the other side of the world, called the United States of America, there is an other British driver which is a real talent. Alex Lloyd is the name of this young and talented guy. He broke records with his amount of victories in the Indy Pro Series. RacingInside.com spoke to Alex Lloyd about his performances and future.
Hello Alex, you are a real talented driver. Unfortunately, a lot of our visitors will not know who Alex Lloyd is. Could you give a short introduction about yourself?
For those who don't know me... Hi! I'm Alex Lloyd. I was born and raised in England. I was most recently crowned as the 2007 Indy Pro Series Championship, a development series for the Indy Racing League in the United States. I won the championship with a series record eight victories in a season, five consecutive win, led all other drivers with 11 races led, 399 laps led, 751 laps completed, five pole positions and 13 top-five finishes. I also just signed a contact with Target Chip Ganassi Racing as a development driver for 2008.
During the last couple of years you have made some great steps in your career. Did you always wanted to become a race driver, also when you were just a little boy?
I didn't come from a motorsport background but I was obsessed with racing cars since I could walk and pushed and bullied my family into taking me karting. I won my first real championship at 14 years old at the British Junior Championship.
You started your career in the go-karts, like many good racedriver. Do you think driving the go-karts is a crucial step in the career of a racedriver? Was it an important fact in your career?
I do believe go-karts are crucial. It is such a great thing for a driver to be able to start driving at the age of 8, or in some case younger. You learn so much about how racing works and how to push yourself to take things further. The race craft you learn in go-karts is also very important. It means that when you begin your career in cars, in my case aged 16, I had already had 6 or so years of learning about racing and driving on the limit and had already won races and championships. That experience helps you drive at a great level than your age and puts you a long way ahead of drivers your age that have never raced go-karts. In some cases those drivers never do catch up with the guys who raced go-karts from an early age.
You are a young British race driver, but you have taken the step into the USA. Why are you switched to the USA?
I had always felt like American racing would suit my needs and wants out of my career. I guess I always felt I would end up in America but I wasn't sure when. At the end of 2005 after I had a year of very little racing and my options in Europe really dried up I started looking at American openwheel formulas. I immediately saw genuine interest from teams in having me race with them even though I had no sponsorship to bring. It was then I gave 100% of my time to finding a drive in the Indy Pro Series and actually turned up to the first race of 06 with my helmet and race suit and pleaded for a drive the following weekend at St Petersburg. My career really took off from the moment I arrived in the States and it became very clear this was the place for me. People take you on talent not sponsorship and that is refreshing. I also love the way of life in America, and the relaxed yet professional way people go about their business. It was definitely the best decision I have made in my career and at the right time.
You have raced in several classes and over several years now. What is the most important race in your career, so far? What is the biggest disappointment to you, so far?
The biggest disappointment would be lack of funding and not being about to drive in 2004 and 2005. But I was really proud of winning the "Young Driver of the Year" award in 2003, doing the test for McLaren, and winning the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis and the Indy Pro Series Championship. I'm also proud to say that I am the only driver to have won races on both the oval and road course at Indianapolis.
This year, the low point was Nashville where I had the race won until, with a few laps to go, some backmarkers crashed just in front and the debris smashed my front wing. That was the start of a string of bad luck I had that included breaking down at Mid-Ohio and at Infineon. We had more poles in the second half of the year than the first but that run of bad luck cost us a couple more wins, which was very frustrating but fortunately we had a big enough lead in the championship where it didn't matter too much. All in all I have very little to be disappointed about and am just thrilled with how this season turned out, and I am looking forward to the challenges that the future holds.
You have driven in several single-seaters. Which car do you enjoy the most? Which one do you dislike?
When I drove the McLaren Formula 1 car that was an eye opening experience. The technology on a Formula 1 car is truly amazing and the acceleration is something I will never forget. Although a Formula 1 car is unbelievably fast, I would say an IndyCar is more fun to drive. An IndyCar slides around a lot more and you really have to fight the car. That is not the case in F1. I have never really disliked any car. You give me a car and I'll go fast and have fun!
During the 2007 you really impressed with your results. You dominated the Indy Pro Series, the big step into the Indy Racing League. So how does that feel?
Obviously my season was amazing. I set out with the goals to win 50% of the races including the Freedom 100 and the championship. It is very rare in motorsport that you achieve all of your goals, but this season with Sam Schmidt Motorsports we were able to do just that. There were many high points this season. A less obvious one is the fact that we never qualified lower than second place, and we never finished lower than third in any race except in the three races where we had problems while running in the top three. The main high point was definitely winning the Freedom 100. That race meant such a big deal to us and it was the best feeling I have experienced in my career crossing the line of bricks in first place to win at Indy.
In 2008 you will be racing the Indy Racing League, an amazing championship, with one of the best teams: Chip Ganassi. What are your expectations about that season?
I'm not yet sure what 2008 has in store for me. I'm under contract with Chip Ganassi. I'd love to run the full season but the team may not be able to run a third car. I'll be doing some testing for them and I might be lent out to another team as well. Either way I'm just really proud to be part of this team and they seem to be quite confident in my abilities. I just want to prove that I can do well.
Of course, you need to be in a good shape to have successes in racing. Do you have a special training schedule?
I do a lot of running, biking, and weights. I work out at St. Vincent Sports Performance with Tim Drudge and he does a great job at keeping me in shape.
If you take a look at your future, what will the future bring to you then? Are there special targets that have to be accomplished?
The future looks great to me. I got married to my beautiful Samantha and we just celebrated the birth of our daughter Ava, and I just signed with Chip Ganassi Racing. Right now everything is great. One of the things I'd like to do in 2008 is win an IndyCar race in my first season. After that I can dream big and hope to win a Championship and an Indy 500!
What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
Don't ever give up. No matter how tough it seems.