Alexis DeJoria might have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth but she soon traded it in for a wrench. The daughter of Patron and Paul Mitchell founder John Paul DeJoria has been addicted to high speeds since she tricked her father into buying her a GMC Typhoon as a teenager.
The Typhoon’s 14.1-second quarter mile time is slow compared what Alexis is used to these days. As the only female driver to ever break the 4-second barrier in Funny Car, Alexis routinely tops the 300-mph mark in her Kalitta Motorsports Patrón XO Cafe Toyota Camry.
With half of the current 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and two victories in her rear view, Alexis is having her best season yet. Fresh off of a 2nd place finish at the New England Nationals, Alexis is currently ranked second in the standings, having recorded a personal best run of 3.997-seconds earlier this season at Pomona. See what makes this badass pro driver tick:
You’ve won a lot this season, Ashley Force won in Atlanta and Troxel won in Bristol. How do you feel about all the gender talk surrounding the sport?
I think it’s definitely something to talk about, yet I don’t think so much focus has to be made on it. We don’t separate ourselves from the guys out here- it’s an even playing field. The few of us females race side-by-side with our male competitors, and our racecars don’t know male from female. I never feel as if I’m at a disadvantage because of my gender.
What initially drew you to racing?
I played sports growing up, so I’ve always been very competitive. I’ve always loved any form of motorsports, whether it be drag racing, off-road, motocross. If it’s any kind of fast-paced, competitive sport, you can pretty much bet I like it. And of course, drag racing is the ultimate fast, competitive sport.
My first car was a GMC Typhoon and it was a very fast car; that was when I first got the itch to race. People would pull up to me at stoplights with their fast hot rods and sports cars, and I just remember beating them off the light every time. That car was a lot faster than my dad thought it would be when he agreed to let me have it! When I was 16, I went to my first NHRA race and saw nitro Funny Cars for the first time, and I knew right then and there that, one day, I would drive one of those cars. I later went to Frank Hawley’s school, got licensed, and started racing.
You have to see it in person- smell the nitro, hear the sounds, feel the thunder of the cars tearing down the track at 300mph. It’s like an earthquake in your soul!
How did your dad feel when you first started racing competitively?
I was the more daring child of the family. I took more risks growing up; I had a desire to race from a very young age, so he wasn’t that surprised when I chose this profession. You would think that he would’ve been very nervous about it, but he wasn’t. He saw how determined and confident I was, and how good I was at it. That alone gave him peace of mind. I’m in my ninth year as an NHRA racer, and my third year as a professional racer. He’s very supportive and comes to as many races as he possibly can.
You have experience and success in both. What is the biggest difference between racing in Nitro Funny Car and Alcohol Funny Car?
The acceleration, the intensity, the speed! These nitro cars are very volatile- anything can happen at any point during a run. You’re never really on easy street. Not to mention, when you step up into the ‘pro’ ranks, there’s a lot more pressure. This is a big business, and there’s big money involved.
Where do you see the sport going in 5 years?
Faster- it’s always getting faster. Everyone is running so well now. NHRA drag racing has always been a very competitive sport, but the speeds are just getting so much faster. Speed and ET records are being broken on a very regular basis. And fanwise, this sport has been diverse for quite a long time and I see it getting better with people like myself, and the other ladies involved. In general, NHRA has really expanded it’s demographic.
What is it going to take to get more young people involved in drag racing?
Just getting more people to come to the races itself. Seeing it on TV is great and all, but it doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it in person- smell the nitro, hear the sounds, feel the thunder of the cars tearing down the track at 300mph. It’s like an earthquake in your soul! You just can’t get that through the television- you have to experience it in person, and that’s what did it for me- that’s what sucked me in when I was sixteen. Anyone that has come to these races has become an instant fan- from all walks of life.
Your car has been running well this year, we know you talk to her, so what have you been saying?
Come on baby, you can do this!! Let’s go kick their asses! And on the bad days, it’s a whole different conversation we have… Some day’s she’s a wicked witch, and that’s saying it nicely.
You’re currently ranked fourth, if you win it all this year what tattoo are you going to get to celebrate?
That’s a good question, you never know. I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, anything is possible, and who knows, maybe I’ll get one of those royal Patrón honeybees from the bottle somewhere on me.