The American dream. That is what Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites driver Nur Ali is living, thanks to his parents who decided years ago to move the family to the U.S. He was born in Pakistan and lived in Germany until the family moved to America in 1983 when Nur was eight years old.
While growing up in Germany, Nur was bit by the racing bug. “I don’t come from a racing background or from a culture that is into racing,” said Ali. “I grew up in Germany surrounded by F1 and lived there from an infant to eight years old. I grew up riding on the Autobahn. My dad was constantly driving on the Autobahn. The feel of driving fast and watching the F1 cars on television is what got me going. But you know, every young kid wants to be a racecar driver, a football player or whatever. But I really wanted to race cars.”
After arriving in America, Ali soon realized that the racing and road systems were a little different than those in Germany. “There was no longer F1 and no longer the Autobahn,” said Nur. “It was now 55 mph and NASCAR.”
As the years went on, Ali began telling his parents that he really wanted to go racing. “My parents said it wasn’t a problem because they had, after all, moved to this country for the business opportunities and educational opportunities. They were there to support me and my younger brother as long as we got our education.”
After graduating from American University in Washington D.C. in 1998, (with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a focus on U.S. foreign policy) Nur handed his dad his college degree and told him that he was ready to go racing.
He set off on his racing career not knowing anything about the race industry. He made his first step into the world of racing by heading to Skip Barber Racing School. He obtained his regional racing license and soon realized that in order to get his racing career started he would need sponsors. He wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to get sponsorships without any racing experience or connections. “I couldn’t just pick up the phone and say ‘Hey, buddy, help me out’,” said Ali. “I had no experience or coaching. I didn’t have anything or anyone behind me, but I had the passion for racing.”
Fast forward seventeen years later and Nur has been behind the wheel of many different types of cars in different types of disciplines such as NASCAR (Camping World Truck Series & Nationwide Series), open wheel testing before the Indy Lights Series, Legends, ARCA, Pro Mazda Championship, Formula Mazda Southwest Championship, and A1GP. “I ran the A1GP for Team Pakistan, their first motorsports team,” said Ali. “I became their driver by default because there was no other Pakistani driver that had any type of racing license, let alone an international racing license.”
This season Nur is piloting the #42 GRC Lites car for AF Racing team. “I’ve partnered with Dave[Carapetyan] from Rally Ready Driving School,” said Ali. “I had no dirt experience at all other than a bit at another school and then at Dave’s property. I had the opportunity to go down there and test. I didn’t do my first jump until Ft. Lauderdale.” He has also partnered with Tweaker Energy Shots, Valvolineand Adidas.
So far for Ali, the Los Angeles round has been the most difficult in terms of putting things together. “In Los Angeles, I was in every single practice session qualifying and it was difficult,” said Ali. “It took me a little longer [to get a feel for the track] than I expected. I had some car issues in D.C. and didn’t get enough seat time. But with the lack of seat time and jumping into the car in D.C., I was quick. I was able to put it together really fast even though I didn’t have practice. Now, I’m ready to go to Barbados.”
For the Ali family, it all came together by hard work and believing in the opportunities the United States can provide. “Born in Pakistan, [then] grew up in Germany, and now I’m living the American dream,” said Ali. “I am blessed and thank my lucky stars. I am blessed that I have a great family that has supported me from day one.”
“One thing my parents have taught me and I will teach my son is that you have to stay grounded,” said Ali. “It doesn’t matter if I become a Lites champion next year or a supercar champion a few years from now. My parent’s story is a very humble beginning which is a motivation for me and my brother. It’s here today and gone tomorrow.”
Fun Facts: The City of Southlake, Texas declared January 25th as Nur Ali Day;
Nur is fluent in 3 languages: English, German and Urdu;
First Asian American to compete in the ARCA Racing Series
HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: AGAINSTTHEGRAINPRODUCTIONS.COM
PHOTO CREDIT: MOTORSPORT.COM (2), RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS (3)