While several drivers who raced last year in IndyCar have moved on to new ventures in 2012, one of them, Alex Lloyd, is still involved in doing TV work and analysis in doing car reviews. The four-time Indianapolis 500 starter has spent the month of May and June doing TV work for the Indianapolis FOX-TV affiliate, but is still actively searching for both one-off IndyCar rides and now opening his eyes to look at a possible dovetailing into sports car racing. The Englishman who was fourth at Indy in 2010 and that year's series Rookie of the Year spoke with RACER web editor Tony DiZinno to discuss the year thus far.
Q: Well, we really haven't seen you on track at all this year. What have you been up to?
AL: It got sort of dull. In February, I thought it likely I'd be full time this year in IndyCar, until things went south and fell apart. There's not a whole lot you can do, but I continued looking for Indy until about a week before bump day. You can't just sit around, you always have to be working to find funding in either IndyCars or trying to make the jump into sports cars.
I've done some driver coaching for Gustavo Yacaman in Indy Lights, and that sort of keeps you around the racetrack. I know Gus well, so it makes sense. I've also been doing a lot of writing, and that kind of fell on my lap. I enjoy driving cars and writing, so that's been the most enjoyable thing this year. I have enjoyed that more than anticipated. It's something I enjoy doing, as opposed to just doing what I can to get by and back into the racing.
Q: I should watch my back, then! But you seem to have developed a style and written some candid pieces elsewhere, it seems.
AL: I quite enjoyed the writing of the opinion pieces. You have to be – I wouldn't say careful, but sometimes you can't say things that are entirely controversial more than you anticipate. Effectively by saying things, there's a bit of a risk. I do enjoy it because those type of pieces, car reviews, you can inject personality. You can play and liven the article up a little bit. It was always one of my strengths growing up in university. Tying it in with racing, the (Indianapolis) Star, the lack of bumping – that was something that drove me crazy. But it wasn't from a biased standpoint since I wasn't in the field.
Q: What triggered your feelings and writing about the fact only 33 cars attempted to qualify, and how there was no bumping?
AL: People worked for months trying to get certain sponsors into the race, and were unable to do so. Bump Day this year turned out the way we expected – bland, nothing exciting. Writing was a nice way to get those thoughts with people around the paddock, nice to be able to put them to paper.
The year previous, qualifying in 2011 was pretty incredible, actually. The speed wasn't there, compared to the previous year where we had speed all month and were capable of a top 10 in the race. I always had faith in confidence in our team and myself, but there were serious concerns we wouldn't make it and the odds of getting in were fairly slim. When we did, you realized how much the race means, given the image of what it was like if we didn't. Qualifying like 31st was a greater accomplishment than finishing fourth the year before, almost.
The case in point this year was Wade Cunningham, who'd worked so hard to get in the field for years, but his entry was anticlimactic. He just drove around on Sunday with more downforce bolted on. It wasn't right…
Q: What have you got out of the road testing and reviews? It at least keeps you behind the wheel of something.
AL: Yeah exactly, and one thing that's become apparent, since I haven't been racing this year, is that realistically there's not that much in the works. Writing and reviewing cars has included running a Porsche Boxter at Barber, and later a Shelby Mustang at Road Atlanta. I just enjoy driving any car. I'll be doing the Honda Fit EV in enough time, which will be low horsepower.
One thing I've learned from this year, is enjoying the different steering wheels. I enjoy the process of getting behind the wheel. And that's one of the things you forget when you're racing cars full time. You become very stressed at the whole situation. It becomes very much a job, and you forget to have fun.
Q: What intrigues you about sports car racing, and the landscape of the sport at the moment with ALMS and Grand-Am?
AL: I like the close racing, being able to bump and bang a little bit. There, you'd get to do those on a more regular basis. I'm not saying closing the door on IndyCar, but you have to have your options completely wide open. Anything in a GT, P2, PC car, I'd jump on it.
It seems a different atmosphere too, again, where you're having fun, racing, trying to win races. It's about getting back to enjoying the sport rather than getting bogged down by the politics of it all.
Q: There always seem to be a handful of “nearly” IndyCar guys who wind up migrating to sports cars, or at least dovetail in certain events. What's been your interaction with any of them?
AL: I haven't actually spoken, personally, other than passing comments. Plowey's (Martin Plowman, one of Conquest Endurance's ALMS P2 drivers) whole deal, I'm presuming he made that jump because he didn't have the right budget for IndyCar. I think for what he's done, it's a really smart move. I think, it's clearly the right decision – I'd love to make it in that situation. It's about having time behind the wheel, and even with two drivers, you still get a lot of it. Plowey in a P2 car – it's still a hell of a machine. There's still a lot of things to work on on both sides, working on leads from the winter, and trying to make it work.