Race team could give boost to Israel at Daytona 500

Car entered by America Israel Racing to attempt to qualify during ‘Gatorade Duels.’

America Israel Racing’s No. 49 Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 390 (photo credit: America Israel Racing)
America Israel Racing’s No. 49 Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 390
(photo credit: America Israel Racing)
A race team on a unique mission will attempt to spread its message of Israeli support on the grandest stage in motorsports, the Daytona 500.
America Israel Racing (AIR) was formed to raise awareness of the importance of Americans supporting the Jewish state through a unique and very public forum – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In order to earn a spot in Sunday’s Daytona 500, the America Israel Racing No. 49 Toyota will have to race its way in during the Gatorade Duel 150s, which takes place on Thursday in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The car, driven by J.J. Yeley, will participate in the second duel. Both races will be televised by SPEED.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history as it pertains to our relationship with Israel,” said Rich Shirey, cofounder of AIR.
“As the only true democracy in the Middle East, we feel it is critical that the United States reaffirms its commitment to stand beside Israel. By fielding a car in the most-watched race of the year, we hope to show Israel just how many Americans feel the same way.”
To help achieve its goals, AIR teamed with NASCAR veteran Jay Robinson of Robinson-Blakeney Racing to attempt to place a car in this year’s Daytona field.
The car’s design was inspired by AIR’s mission of promoting American-Israeli support and prominently displays both the American and Israeli flags. A striking image of a bald eagle holding both nations’ flags in its claws and an olive branch in its beak is featured on the hood.
“We wanted to ensure our car design was not only eye-catching, but properly conveyed the mission and values of America Israel Racing,” said Shirey.
“The eagle in particular contains a great deal of symbolism – it has a determined look on its face, because we are determined to voice the importance of America’s support of Israel.”
“However, we wanted to be sure to include the olive branch, because it is a universal sign of peace and above all else, America Israel Racing’s message is a peaceful one,” he added.
AIR hopes to continue its partnership with Robinson-Blakeney Racing beyond Daytona, and with the support of like-minded individuals, the organization will spread its message by placing a car in the Sprint Cup field for the entire 2012 season.
“If enough people make a stand, the world will take notice,” Shirey said.