Nolan Allaer placed 14th out of 21 racers in the St. Petersburg Indy NXT Race.

When Nolan Allaer was 4, he went go-karting. At the time, it wasn’t meant to set him up for a career in car racing. It was simply a way for his parents to get him used to driving because they wanted him to be a safe driver when he got his license.

Then something changed. The former FishHawk resident got his license at 16 and found a renewed interest in cars. Allaer comes from a family of racers. His dad and maternal grandfather race cars competitively. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Allaer is participating in this year’s Indy NXT season.

Allaer made his debut in the first race of the Indy NXT season, the racing equivalent of Triple-A baseball, at the beginning of March in St. Petersburg. The 45-lap, 55-minute race took Allaer and the 20 other racers alongside the water of the South Yacht Basin and down the Albert Whitted Airport runway, turning through the streets of St. Petersburg.

“I always loved it but I never imagined I would be back in it full time,” he said.

The track itself was a challenge. Over three Gs of force weighed on Allaer as he made sharp turns on the bumpy track bordered by walls. He topped out at 158 mph.

The Bevis Elementary and Randall Middle School graduate, sponsored by Keel and Curley Farms and Martini, has been practicing with simulators in his apartment. It’s the only real way to prepare for a race. But it’s not the same as being in his car on the track.

“The thing you don’t get is the g-force and the sensation and speed,” he said.

On top of that, this was the longest race he had ever done. After his first practice run earlier that week, he felt like he was going to pass out. After the next practice and qualifying round to determine his starting place for the actual race, he focused on relaxing.

“It’s just kind of taking all that stress off of you and just doing what you have to do to last,” he said.

Allaer finished in 14th place in his debut race. While he said he normally wouldn’t settle for that, he and his team were very happy with the results. It’s his first round in the series and his fastest lap was already just .3 seconds off the fastest time.

“We’re pretty thrilled with it,” he said.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.