Alexis DeJoria - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
She's spent a year testing and a mini-season competing in four races in 2011 preparing for her career as a professional Funny Car drag racer in NHRA's Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
The daughter of the legendary John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul MItchell Systems hair care lines and owner of Tequila Patron is a race winner in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category, one of the few women to successfully compete at that level.
It wasn't enough for her and now she's attempting to earn the coveted Auto Club Road to the Future rookie of the year award over the next 23 Funny Car races.
It all begins on Thursday for DeJoria, who spent the off-season testing and following a grueling training regimen. She made at least 25 test runs during two week-long test sessions at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, FL. During that time she got to know new crew chief Del Worsham, the reigning 2011 Top Fuel champion who gave up driving to work with DeJoria.
In addition to the normal test routine, DeJoria and her Worsham-led crew from Kalitta Motorsports spent time testing a brand new 2012 Toyota Camry body designed by Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson. The team spent so much time testing that they had no time to paint the new body, so it'll be primer gray with Tequila Patron (and other) stickers when qualifying starts at 1:30PM on Thursday.
"I'm very excited for Pomona," DeJoria said. "We've made a lot of test runs and we've really gelled as a team. Of course the addition of Del as crew chief has been a huge asset to us as well. Pomona always sets the tone for the year and I can't wait to go out there and show everyone what we've got. The first race is always great because everyone starts off on equal footing. Our team is very optimistic about the way the season should pan out."
Thus far the team has found success with the new body and accomplished one of their primary testing goals of getting into four-second territory. DeJoria was very excited about the new race car body and its ability to go quickly down the 1,000-foot dragstrip. Visibility in the car is excellent, she noted and added, "This body is worth at least three more mph and definitely some downforce. We're very fortunate to have the opportunity to use it."
The Kalitta Motorsport team is working to make sure DeJoria's new car and the 2011 Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by teammate Jeff Arend are mechanically as similar as possible, with the biggest difference being the body.
"We should see some good numbers at Pomona," said Jim Oberhofer, vice president of Kalitta Motorsports. "The car looked really good in West Palm Beach, but should look even better in Pomona. The starting line will be better and the track is usually very good there because of the difference in altitude, the motor will react a little differently than it did in Florida, but we'll take what we learned there and apply it to Pomona and make the adjustments from there. Once Del gets this car tuned in and perfect, we should see some really impressive numbers."