There’s an old saying in motor racing that money buys speed, but even that wasn’t enough at first for drag racer Alexis DeJoria.
DeJoria, 36, is the daughter of billionaire John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Paul Mitchell hair care products company and owner of tequila maker Patron Spirits.
Alexis DeJoria races funny cars, one of the two elite classes of 300-mph dragsters in the National Hot Rod Assn., and she struggled her first two years in the sport’s premier Mello Yello Series.
It’s one thing to have a powerful dragster. But success in the NHRA requires much more, including superlative reaction skills at the starting line, the ability to correct a wayward dragster in the blink of an eye, experience against rival drivers and, at times, a little luck.
But now DeJoria has found her groove. DeJoria won for the second time in four races Sunday in Las Vegas by defeating former funny car champion Robert Hight with a pass of 4.026 seconds at 309.98 mph.
She also won last month’s event in Phoenix by defeating Hight in the final round of eliminations, and she’s now third in the championship standings.
And in the season opener in Pomona last month, DeJoria made history in her Toyota-powered funny car. She became the first woman to make a run of less than four seconds in a funny car since the NHRA went to 1,000-foot races for funny cars and top-fuel dragsters, the sport’s other premier class, in mid-2008.
“We focused on taking it one round at a time,” DeJoria said after Sunday’s rounds of final eliminations in which she also knocked off three other former champions -- Matt Hagan and brothers Cruz and Tony Pedregon -- before defeating Hight.
“Today my team gave me a good car,” she said. “I kept my head down and try to stay focused.”