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Aug 08, 2014 - 03:24 PM
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Natural Talent Helps Alon Learn, Climb Standings Quickly
Posted by: newsla on Aug 08, 2014 - 03:23 PM
Sports Cars
Natural Talent Helps Alon Learn, Climb Standings Quickly


All it took was mom's permission to borrow the car.

Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda driver Robert Alon turned 16, took the keys to his mom's car and discovered his passion for cars and speed. That passion led him to racing.

 

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"It was just the most fun I'd ever had," Alon said. "I was 16, my mom gave me the keys to her car, and I discovered I liked to drive fast. Then at 18 I went to the Universal Technical Institute to learn about mechanics, and I started karting."

After graduation, Los Angeles resident Alon decided becoming a driver was his career path of choice, admitting he makes a terrible mechanic. Alon, now 24, jumped from go-karts to the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series this season with Performance Tech Motorsports.

"I actually almost quit karting because I didn't feel like I was progressing," Alon said. "Even in my first test with Performance Tech, I could tell I was progressing. Having someone there like Brent (team principal Brent O'Neill) or JJ (driver coach Jonatan Jorge), who knows what's going on and can give me direction, really helped. I would get so frustrated when I was karting because I would bust my ass every weekend and not get any better. It's helped having people tell me what to do to get better."

Having the right people behind him has allowed Alon to find speed and flatten the learning curve quickly despite his late start in the sport. He is second in the Lites 1 Driver Championship entering Rounds 9 and 10 this weekend at Road America, with runner-up finishes in June at Watkins Glen and July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

"I don't know how to say this other than I didn't think I'd be doing so well," Alon said. "I wanted it, but I didn't know what I was getting myself into. So many of these guys have been running karts and racing forever. I started at 18. But I think I've leveled the playing field and have proved I can run upfront."

Alon has still found a few things surprising while being backed by a well-seasoned team with plenty of professionals to teach him.

"Something that took me by surprise was the speed," Alon said. "The cars can take the corners at a very high speed. The amount of downforce they have was also a surprise to me. Speed is what I'm working on getting better at, too, speed and lap times."

One thing that was not a surprise was his ability to advance positions during the start and his natural comfort at overtaking, vital skills needed to be a successful driver.

"Maybe I got it from driving through the freeway traffic in L.A.," Alon said, joking. "Maybe it's natural. It's just something I've always felt comfortable doing."

Alon's plans for the future involve becoming a professional driver. Ideally, Alon wants to switch from open- to closed-cockpit cars and drive something German.

"I want to drive for Porsche one day," Alon said. "I've always been a fan of the team and the car. I own one, and I just think they make a good product all around. I'd like to be at Le Mans one day."

Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda

The two classes of competition in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series take drivers and teams down unique, exciting roads of prototype sports car racing. Nimble, high-tech, purpose-built Lites 1 machines pack in the power with a 230-horsepower, 2-liter Mazda engine designed to prepare aspiring professionals for prototype competition in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Equally capable and affordable Lites 2 machines offer world-class competition for semi-professional drivers. Both formulas take competition to the next level, producing thrilling, high-speed action at premier venues across North America.

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