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Talking Sports with NHRA Tequila Patron Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria

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By Anthony Caruso III } Publisher

Alexis DeJoria, a rookie NHRA Funny Car driver, recently took time to do an interview with The Capital Sports Report. Her interview is about her racing career.

TCSR: Could you talk about being sponsored by your dad’s Tequila Patron company?

AJ: “Tequila Patron has been involved in racing for quite a while. They have been in NASCAR, IndyCar, American Le Mans Series, and NHRA Drag Racing. It is definitely a good fit.”

Alexis DeJoria and Publisher Anthony Caruso III (Photo by Anthony Caruso III)

Alexis DeJoria and Publisher Anthony Caruso III (Photo by Anthony Caruso III)

TCSR: When you decided to move up to Funny Car and you were looking for a sponsor, did ask your dad if he could sponsor you?

AJ: “No, it was like if you want to race, then you have to get your license first. I always wanted to do this since I was a little kid. I went to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and I got my license in Super Gas. Eventually, I went back to get my license in Super Comp. I raced Super Gas for a little bit, before moving up to the Super Comp dragster for a little bit. I went back to the (Hawley Drag Racing) school to get my license in Top Alcohol Funny Car, and the progression started to take shape, as I was so determined to get where I am today. I was good at what I did, and once I moved to Top Alcohol Funny Car, I talked to my dad (John Paul DeJoria, owner of Paul Mitchell Hair Care Products, Patron Tequila, and John Paul Pet Products) about potentially sponsoring my team. He had to work his butt off to get where he is today, and he wasn’t just going to give us money for no reason. I had to prove myself to him.”

TCSR: You starting drag racing in a 1963 Corvette in Super Gas. What was that like?

AJ: “Current NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman was the teacher at the school and he taught how to drive and get my license in Super Gas. Plus, he had a friend that was selling that Corvette. It had some miles on it, but it was a good starting car in my career. I drove it for a while, and I met a great group of people while I was driving it. At that time, I didn’t know anybody, so it was great to team up with them. They helped me when I was on the track. I only raced Super Gas in that car for maybe 2 races, then I made the move to Super Comp pretty quickly.”

TCSR: When you moved from the Corvette in Super Gas to the Super Comp dragster, did you have to make any changes in your driving style?

AJ: “It was definitely different, but it was still bracket racing. I could be here all day if you wanted to hear all the differences in driving the two cars.”

TCSR: Could you talk about racing the Super Comp dragster?

AJ: “It was great. I made it to a National event final and I was really confident to make the move to the next step. It was my goal to reach a Nitro Funny Car all along, and I thought it was the right time to move to Top Alcohol Funny Car. It was night and day to make the switch from Super Comp to Top Alcohol Funny Car. I had to forget everything I did in Super Comp and re-train myself for the Top Alcohol Funny Car. I had to learn so much. It was like nothing that I have ever done before.”

TCSR: Could you talk about driving your Top Alcohol Funny Car?

AJ: “When I first started, I raced on the West Coast for two years, then I separated from that team and then I created my own team. At the time, Bob Newberry, who was a former driver, was selling off his entire operation, but still wanted to be a crew chief for the person that brought his team. It was the best thing I ever did, and I started to win rounds and everything started to click. He gave me the confidence and I moved out to the East Coast for a little while, before moving up to the Nitro Funny Car division.”

TCSR: Could you talk about your Nitro Funny Car debut in 2010?

AJ: “It was great. I wanted to win a national event, as I’ve won divisional events. I’ve wanted to stretch it out as much as possible. During that time, I started to test with the Worsham’s family-owned Funny Car. The Monday before the Dallas race in 2010, I made a run to get my license, and once I got my license, it was the best day of my life.”

TCSR: Could you talk about your four races last year to keep your rookie status for this year?

AJ: “That was the plan, as I wanted to keep my rookie status for this year. I started at Dallas, where I got my license the year prior. I picked that race, because I was comfortable there. Half of my family lives in Texas, so it made the most sense to do it there. It was awesome doing those four races last year.”

TCSR: This year, it is your rookie campaign. You are also led by Del Worsham, who retired after the 2011 season to be your crew chief. Could you talk about how that all went down?

AJ: “It is great to have Del with us, but it wasn’t set in stone, to be honest with you. I had previously told him that if he ever wanted to retire, that I would love for him to be my crew chief. I never thought he would retire after having such a great season last year and winning the Top Fuel Championship. I honestly thought he would return for this season after winning the championship, but things worked out where he retired and was able to join our team last November. He was already my mentor, and he was what Bob Newberry did for me years prior. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to us, as I was so happy that he won the championship then left on a high note to be the crew chief of my team.”

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