Alex Popow is a racing driver from Venezuela who achieved the most in the North American sports car racing. He was the LMPC class champion in the 2012 American Le Mans Series, driving an Oreca FLM09 for CORE Autosport. Four years later, in 2016, he was the PC class champion in the IMSA SportsCar Championship, driving the same car for Starworks Motorsport.
Victorious start of a racing career
Born in November 1975 in Barcelona, Venezuela, in a family of Eastern European ancestry, Alex Popow had a victorious start of his racing career in 1996, winning the Venezuelan Eastern Championship in the 2000cc class. Next year, he defended a championship title.
He continued his victorious streak by winning the Fiat Palio Cup for two years in a row, in 1998 and 1999, before moving to Ford Mustang Cup. Guess what, he was a champion again in the Mustang Cup in 2000 and then again in 2002.
One victory and three podiums at Bogota 6 Hours
During the 1990s, the Bogota 6 Hours was the main motorsport event in neighboring Colombia. Popow made a debut in that race in 1997, finishing in the second place. He reached his second podium seven years later, and then one more in 2005. He finally managed to score in Bogota six years later, in 2011.
During the 2000s, Popow achieved some notable results in national championships, finishing third in the 2004 Colombian endurance championship in the prototype category and winning the 2005 Venezuelan Latam Formula 2000 Championship. From 2007 to 2009, Popow participated in the AWA 4×4 rally championship.
Two successful seasons in Mexico
In 2010, Popow returned to circuit racing, finishing third in the Latam Formula 2000 in Mexico with two wins on his account. Next year, he finished fourth in the same championship, not scoring wins.
In 2011, he was also successful in the Mexican Seat Leon Supercopa series, finishing in the second place after scoring four wins and ten podiums in sixteen races.
Alex Popow debuted in the Grand-Am Rolex Series in 2011
Grand-Am Rolex Series debut in 2011
While competing in Mexico, Popow made a milestone step in his sports car racing career, entering the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. He joined Starworks Motorsport and spent full season driving the #2 Riley-Ford prototype.
His debut race was the Daytona 24 Hours, where he was sharing a car with Enzo Potolicchio, Romain Iannetta and Ernesto Viso. Later in the season, Enzo Potolicchio was his partner in most of the races but he scored the best result in another team's car (#8), together with Ryan Dalziel at Watkins Glen 2 Hours. At the end of the season, Popow was 14th in the points.
American Le Mans Series champion in 2012
In 2012, Popow had a double programme in the North American sports car racing, driving Riley-Ford for Starworks Motorsport in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Oreca FLM09-Chevrolet for CORE Autosport in the American Le Mans Series.
In ten races with the #06 Oreca, sharing a car with six different co-drivers, Popow scored five wins in the Prototype Challenge class, including the Sebring 12 Hours, dominantly taking the championship title. In the Rolex Series, he finished second overall at Daytona 24 Hours in the #8 Riley-Ford and later won one race, ending a season fifth in the points.
Alex Popow in 2012
Diverse racing programme in 2012
Besides racing with prototypes, Popow participated in many other sports car competitions in GT cars. He began a season with participations at Dubai 24 Hours and Gulf 12 Hours with United Autosports's Audi R8 LMS, finishing third in Abu Dhabi. In the next Gulf 2 Hours race, in December, he finished second in a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Popow also scored few wins in the Ferrari Challenge North America with Ferrari 458 Challenge and one victory in the Trofeo Maserati World Series with Maserati Gran Turismo. Popow was also driving a Ford Mustang for Starworks Motorsport in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
In 2012, Popow even made a NASCAR debut, participating in one race of the Nationwide Series. He was driving the #19 Toyota for TriStar Motorsports at the Watkins Glen.
Alex Popow in 2013
2013 – sixth at Daytona, fifth in the championship
In 2013, Popow's main competition was the Rolex Sports Car Series with Starworks Motorsport. He opened a season with sixth place at Daytona 24 Hours. His full-time co-driver in the #2 Riley-Ford was Ryan Dalziel. They won at Indianapolis, finishing fifth in the points.
In the American Le Mans Series, Popow didn't try to defend LMPC title, participating in just two races with RSR Racing, including Sebring 12 Hours.
Two seasons on a part-time schedule
In the 2014 IMSA United SportsCar Championship, Popow stayed with Starworks Motorsport, combining participation in the Daytona Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes. The highlight of the season was the PC class victory at Petit Le Mans, together with Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis in the #8 Oreca FLM09.
In 2015, he participated only in four endurance races of the IMSA Championship, scoring the PC class victory at Watkins Glen. His co-drivers in that race were Renger van de Zande and Mike Hedlund.
Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande - 2016 champions
Prototype Challenge IMSA Champion in 2016
In 2016, Popow returned to the full-time schedule with Starworks Motorsport, driving the #8 Oreca together with Renger van der Zande. They were fourth in the PC class at Daytona and third at Sebring. The first win came in the fifth round at Belle Isle and then two more at Watkins Glen and Austin.
At the end of the season, Popow and Van der Zande have the same amount of points as PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports' Robert Alon and Tom Kimber Smith, but more wins brought them a championship title.
Moving to Lamborghini Super Trofeo in 2017
In 2017, Popow closed his prototype racing career with one more participation at Daytona 24 Hours in an Oreca FLM09, finishing fourth in the PC class. Later in the season, he participated in one round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, driving Ligier LMP3 prototype for Eurointernational. Popow's main competition in 2017 was the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, driving the #10 Lamborghini Huracan Prestige Performance.
In 2018, he returned one more time to Daytona 24h, driving the #20 Riley-Gibson prototye for BAR1 Motorsports. In 2019, his main competition was the IMSA Sports Car Challenge, in which he was driving an Alfa Romeo Giuliette in the TCR class.