Tom Bogert, CBS Local Sports
Alex Lloyd raced in a few Indianapolis 500 races, even finishing as high as 4th place, but that’s not what he’s known for. He earned the nickname Pink Lloyd after doing an Indy 500 in a bright pink car and race suit.
Lloyd joined the JR Sport Brief to talk to JR about his time as a driver as well as his transition to the corporate world. But first, JR had to ask about Pink Lloyd.
“That was an interesting time,” said Lloyd. “That was during the 2009 Indy 500… (my sponsor) said… we’re going to paint your car bright pink and make you wear the pinkest race suit that you could ever imagine. When I first saw it, it was literally the most embarrassing moment of my life.”
After the initial embarrassment, he embraced the overload of pink. And once people got used to it, they loved it. He became a story.
“As it happened, people started to love it, and the local news people said ‘hey, we should give him the nickname Pink Lloyd after Pink Floyd,'” said Lloyd. “I got a lot of attention from that, for better or worse, for being the pink guy for the month of May.”
Lloyd started driving go-carts, which can reach 60 mph, at eight years old and moved up to race cars at 15. Yet, hilariously, he failed his driving test to get his license… three times.
“I was in cars before I’d even got a drivers license,” said Lloyd. “I was racing cars at age 15 and in England you’ve got to be 17 to pass your test, which I failed three times.”
The sport is difficult to get into, though. When Lloyd was learning, business wasn’t great. Prospective drivers had to pay to play, and that cost was not cheap, something he laments about the sport.
“That’s how it is in racing, unfortunately, it’s a rich man’s sport. You’ve got to find some funding, I didn’t have that,” said Lloyd. “It’s a tricky old world and it’s not a business that was very stable. But it’s an awful lot of fun, you’re driving 230 mph in insanely cool cars.”
Lloyd is no longer a professional driver. He transitioned away from the sport a few years ago and began writing about the industry. His decision was impacted heavily by the death of a friend.
“At the end of 2011, the last race of the Indy Car season. … There was a huge 15-car accident that killed a friend of mine called Dan Wheldon, I was involved in that 15-car accident,” said Lloyd. “It was one of the most horrific accidents that the world of most sports had ever seen. … I quickly realized after that, because we were good friends with Dan Weldon and his wife and children… that if I can’t get in a competitive car… unless I can do it right, I don’t want to do it in these small teams where you’re putting yourself on the line for nothing.”
Lloyd wanted to put his family first.
“I’ve got children, I’ve got to do something here,” said Lloyd. “I can’t just hang out and hope that I can play around in a race car this weekend.”
As far as crashes go, JR gives all the credit in the world to Lloyd and other professional drivers.
“I think the max I’ve gone on a track is probably 180 mph, with nobody out there just me. If I hit the wall, I’d probably pass out from just being a punk,” joked JR.
But Lloyd had the chance to get into a safer profession, where he still enjoys success. He’s head of content at Beepi, a company trying to change the experience of car buying online.
“At some point you’ve got to figure out what’s next, and I had this great opportunity on my lap so I thought ‘I’m going to go all in on this and make it work,'” said Lloyd.
Looking back at everything, Lloyd has no regrets.
“It’s been an interesting journey from race cars to corporate life, it’s been a fun time,” said Lloyd.
As a fan of repetitive disappointment and frustration, Tom holds Liverpool FC, the New York Knicks and New York Red Bulls near and dear to his heart with occasional joy coming from the New York Giants and New York Yankees.