As driver of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America IndyCar, Alex Lloyd has a built-in fan base of millions of Scouts, parents, volunteers, and alumni.
And when he finished fourth at the May 2010 Indianapolis 500, he wooed many more fans who have never been involved with Scouting. Hundreds of thousands in the stands and millions more watching the live national broadcast saw Alex’s impressive day.
I caught up with Alex last July for an exclusive interview during a rare break in his busy schedule. He chatted with me on the phone from his home in Indianapolis.
Bryan: You had a relatively slow start in the four races leading up to the Indy 500. Talk about how you stayed the course during those early struggles.
Alex Lloyd: Racing’s no different than any other career or activity. You have your bumps along the way, and sometimes those mountains can seem like Mount Everest and you can’t imagine how you’re going to get to the other side. It’s a matter of digging deep and picking yourself up. Keep working and believing in yourself and your team and the guys around you. We knew that we could do the job, and we wouldn’t let the disappointing start prevent us from achieving what we want to achieve. That never-give-up attitude applies to every aspect of life. We have proof for myself and the team and Scouts and anybody watching—it pays off to take that kind of approach.
B.W.: You were a Scout in England, where it was founded. How was that?
A.L.: Yes, I was in Scouts for three or four years in Manchester. My mom was a volunteer, and when I was in the Cub Scouts she would come in and help look after everybody. It was a lot of fun. When it came about that I was going to be driving the Boy Scouts car and I looked into it, I didn’t realize how many of my family members had been involved in Scouts.
B.W.: What did you think when you were first approached by the Boy Scouts of America?
A.L.: They explained it to me, and I got pretty excited. I could see that this was a fantastic opportunity for myself and the team. You’re meeting so many different kinds of people, the leaders and the kids, and you get to share all of this. You work with a lot of sponsors and a lot of different companies as a driver. And most of them involve very corporate events. You put on your suit and tie and meet people. That’s fine, but I’ve just found this [partnership with the BSA] so refreshing.
B.W.: What are the BSA events like?
A.L.: Other sponsors’ events have never been a chore for me, but these kind of events that we do with the Scouts, I love doing them. I wouldn’t want to miss them. Say I’m told to stay there for an hour. Well, I love to spend more time there than that. You talk the kids, and they ask some really good questions. “How fast do the cars go?” “What’s it feel like to drive one?”
At the end of the day, when I’m driving one of these cars I feel like a kid again. And the parents and the adult leaders enjoy seeing their kids get fired up about something. It’s like the ultimate pinewood derby car.
B.W.: What would you tell an adult leader who’s thinking of taking his or her Scouts out to one of your races?
A.L.: It would exceed what he would expect in terms of how much he would enjoy it. You don’t have to be a racing fan to enjoy these kinds of events. You can enjoy the nice weather, the whole setting. You can just go and have fun. Compared to NASCAR, IndyCar is really open and not cut-off. We say, “come in and let us show you the cars.” You come away thinking that trip was worth it. It’s good fun, it’s educational, and it’s a great activity to do.
B.W.: What has been the BSA presence at the races so far?
A.L.: We’ve got tons of Scouts. You can really feel the Scouts out there. It’s been impressive to see everybody come out there in their uniforms. It’s quite a presence. Drivers come up to me after and say, “Wow, we saw so many Boy Scouts out there.”
I’ve been amazed at how many people are affiliated with the Boy Scouts. There just seems to be so many people that are involved or know somebody involved. Even in the people that aren’t involved, I’ve found so many cheering on the Boy Scouts car. I’ve had a number of people say, “I’m not a Scout, but I’m cheering for the Scouts.” Everybody knows somebody that’s been involved in the Scouts. Everybody knows something about them. You have that kind of relation where, “That’s a cool thing,” As opposed to some random company that you might not know anything about. Everybody cares about kids and seeing kids grow up in the right manner.
B.W.: Thanks for chatting with us, and good luck this season!