An Interview With Alexis DeJoria Revisited

By David G. Firestone

[Since Alexis has retired from racing, I’ve decided to revisit an interview I did with her earlier in the year.]

Though it was produced by Casa 7 Leguas, one of Mexico’s oldest distilleries for years, Tequila Patrón wasn’t always the high quality product we know today. In fact, for many years, it was more along the lines of bottom-shelf store brand tequila, that was consumed for intoxication, as opposed to flavor. That all changed in 2000. In 1989, St. Maarten Spirits, owned by John Paul DeJoria and Martin Crowley, purchased the rights to the brand.

In 2000, St. Maarten Spirits, hired Ed Brown as CEO. Brown realized that making the brand into a premium brand would increase sales. In 2002, the company moved production to a brand new facility. Inspired by Gray Goose ads, Tequila Patrón advertising began to promote the product as “premium” and it boasted “taste and sophistication.” Eventually, with a little help from Lil Jon, and other hip hop, and country singers, Tequila Patrón has not only become a fixture in the trendiest nightclubs and restaurants, but also a part of pop culture.

One other way Patrón Tequila boosts their product is through auto racing sponsorship. Tequila Patrón could be considered more devoted than most companies to auto racing. CEO Ed Brown is also a driver for Extreme Speed Motorsports, an FIA World Endurance Championship team, which races in the Weathertech SportsCar Championship. Brown and his team have won the 2014 Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 2016 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Tequila Patrón’s other major racing sponsorship comes in the form of John Paul DeJoria’s daughter Alexis. Alexis DeJoria got her start in 2005 in the NHRA Sportsman division, first racing in Super Gas before moving to Super Comp, and winning the Sportsman Nationals. In 2006, she stared racing in Top Alcohol Funny Car, and by 2009, she had founded her own team, sponsored by Tequila Patrón.

2011 was a big year for Alexis. She scored her first win in Top Alcohol Funny Car at the 2011 NHRA Northwest Nationals, becoming the second woman to do so. She also got her nitro licensee, and joined Kalitta Motosports, driving the Tequila Patrón Toyota Funny Car. She had moderate success in 2012, and 2013.

2014 was her breakout year, winning the first race at Phoenix, the first race at Las Vegas, and the coveted US Nationals at Indianapolis. She also became the first woman to race a sub 4-second run, with a 3.998 run at Ponoma.

In 2015, Alexis didn’t have the same success as the previous year, making it to only one final round, losing to defending Funny Car champion Matt Hagan. She did make the Countdown to the Championship, finishing 8th in the standings. 2016 was looking to be a good year. She won the first Las Vegas race, and set personal ET and speed records at Topeka, where she ran a 3.875ET 332.18 MPH in Q2. Sadly, a broken pelvis at Toyota Sonoma Nationals, at Sonoma, and a concussion at the Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas stalled what could have been a championship season.

2017 has been a mixed bag for Alexis. She has had some good runs, and put up some good numbers. Though a family issue has forced her to miss a few events, she isn’t out of the championship picture yet. If Robert Hight can win the Funny Car championship from the 10th seed, Alexis can surely win too.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Alexis about her Funny Car uniform. After the Jack Beckman interview, I decided to take a bit of a different route, this time, more focusing on Alexis’ preferences, as opposed to trying to get as much general Funny Car uniform information. I’d also like to say a huge Thank You to Allison McCormick, who went above and beyond to help make this interview a reality! Without further ado, my interview with Alexis DeJoria:

Dave-What is your uniform setup for a race weekend, that is, how do you rotate suits, helmets, shoes, gloves, etc over a race weekend?

Alexis-I have two firesuits, two helmets, two sets of gloves, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of fire boots, and multiple pairs of carbonex underwear and tops. Throughout the race season, I go back and forth between the two suits. They get pretty dirty so I try not to wear one over and over again. I rotate between the two of them and at the end of the year, I sign them and auction them off for charity.

Dave-How long do driver gloves, shoes, and balaclavas tend to last?

Alexis-I’ve had my balaclavas and some of my carbonex underwear, tops and socks for a few years. I take really good care of my things. They do get pretty thrashed, but I take them home and wash them after every race and hang them to dry. Shoes, it just depends. I wear them until they have holes in them basically; until they’re no longer safe. Same goes for my gloves.

Dave-Some drivers black out parts of their helmet visor to cut down on distraction, which Jack Beckman referred to as “the Clydesdale effect.” I have noticed that you prefer to have your whole visor clear, have you tried the Clydesdale effect?

Alexis-I have not tried ‘the Clydesdale effect.’ For me personally, I like to be able to focus on the top end of the race track where I want to end up, but also still be able to see in my peripheral vision. For me it helps, especially on race day; I like to see and be prepared for whatever may happen.

Dave-You suffered a series of crashes during the season last year, and missed a number of races as a direct result. Did you have to modify your uniform

Alexis-No modifications to my uniform were made. There were some modifications done to the cockpit of the race car to make it safer in the event of something like that happening again. But no, as far as what I wear personally, there were no modifications.

Alexis was also kind enough to share some pictures of her racing uniform:Image by Gary Nastase

Images by William Lester

Alexis DeJoria has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her racing career. Her driving talent and her tenacity have helped her reach the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. She is a popular driver, and having met her in person at Route 66, I can honestly say she is an amazing person. I would like to thank her, and Allison McCormick for helping make this happen!

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My Thoughts On Ford’s NHRA Announcement

By David G. Firestone

A few weeks ago, I discussed Ford pulling out of the NHRA, and the resulting Camstang fiasco with John Force Racing. What I didn’t discuss was the fact that there are still drivers who are racing Ford Funny Car bodies, specifically Bob Tasca and Tim Wilkerson. I’ve noticed that their decals seem to evolve when the street Mustang changes design. I’ve been wondering if Ford has really pulled out of the sport.

Last week, I got my answer. Ford announced at the SEMA show that they were returning to the NHRA. The announcement stated that:

“Ford and its selected brands will sponsor Bob Tasca III and Tasca Racing for the entire season as the primary sponsor for 16 races, and as a co-sponsor the rest of the season, building on the company’s legacy of drag racing that dates back to the start of the sport.

“We’re excited about partnering with Tasca Racing and helping them return to NHRA for a championship run,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “We believe we have the technology tools to help the team be competitive on the track long-term, and are looking forward to the effort starting in 2018.

“The Tasca family has always been a pioneer in racing, and a leader in Ford vehicle and parts sales for many decades,” said Pericak. “This partnership will only serve to strengthen that legacy.”

Um…so Ford is returning to the NHRA, but only sponsoring Bob Tasca? Why not bring in Tim Wilkerson? Why not bring in a driver who has shown he can win multiple races over the course of a season? Why focus only on Tasca? Tasca has 4 Funny Car wins, Wilkerson has 20 Funny Car wins. I don’t see the point in not bringing Wilkerson in to the group.

I also don’t see why Ford couldn’t bring in another full-time team. Why not Jim Dunn Racing? JDR is a team that has been spinning their wheels for some time, but they are a passionate team, with a good driver, so why not try to bring them on? Ford could have brought on two teams, and given themselves a lot to work with, but they chose to focus on the wrong horse here. I just don’t get it.

Ford’s half-assing their return to the NHRA really makes little sense, but what makes even less sense is why they pulled out in the first place. Their NASCAR program hasn’t been a stellar success. Ford has won 4 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships since 1980, and their last championship came in 2004. Their Xfinity Series program is good, but their Truck Series is a disaster. Their NHRA program had the most success of their racing programs, and they had to kill it off for no good reason. Then when the do bring it back, they back the wrong horse…Nice job guys!

My Thoughs on Shopping Malls…Revisited

By David G. Firestone

[Editor’s note:Been a little busy this week, so I decided to go into the archives and pull out one from quite a few years ago…enjoy!]

Admittedly, I do not go to shopping malls all that often. The mall houses the biggest collection of douchebags on the planet, and I try to avoid it at all costs. I’ve gone to the mall 3 times in the last year, and I get annoyed by things every time. This last weekend, I spend the bulk of my weekend at the mall trying to finish my shopping. After spending more time than a human being ever should in a shopping mall, I have a number of observations from my last 3 times…

*To the girl being questioned by security, I hope you have an explanation for the fact that there is a dress clearly visible wadded up under your shirt.

*Jet black pantyhose do not qualify as pants.

*If the pockets on your shorts stick out underneath the end of your shorts, that is proof you did them yourself. I have a hard time believing that stores would sell that

*To the Windows 8 phone display…some free advice:Your display is to sell phones, but you have a guitar leaning on a chair in front of a laser beam background, but you have no phones to be seen…am I missing something here?

*To any store who’s business model is some variation of “Selling things that smell nice,” some free advice:If I can smell you three stores away, or one floor above, tone it down!

*If you pay more that $35 for a t-shirt, or buy a shirt from a store that only sells merchandise with its own name and/or logo on it, please shoot yourself.

*To the dead sea minerals stand, If I walk by you 3 times, and all 3 times, I ignore you entirely, what the hell makes you think anything will change the 4th time? If it was the hot girl with the sexy accent I met last time, I would listen, but a 34 year old man with frosted tips, and an Abercrombe shirt won’t work.

*To the toy kiosk, You know how I can tell you sell knockoffs? The characters names are misspelled on the package. It’s Lightning McQueen, not Lighetning McKween.

*I don’t know where “Hilfiger University” is, but I’m willing to bet it is on the same campus as Douchebag Tech.

*If you are going to go to a mall in a 3-piece suit to get something to eat, aim a little higher than McDonald’s…Go A&W or higher.

*You can get cell phone service on top of Mount Everest, but I can’t get a bar when I am standing next to the Disney Store…

*This one is more of a legit question…To the car dealer(s) who have models on display in a shopping mall…do you do anything to the car after parking it in the mall to keep people from stealing it? I would guess you take the battery out, but anything else?

*To the woman I met outside of Macy’s…if you are that drunk and the sun is out you need help…seriously.

*If you walk into a Chicago Cubs store wearing White Sox, Brewers or Cardinals gear, please punch yourself in the face as hard as you can.

*To the woman who offered me this new “makeup for men” I really hope you have a backup plan for when this business venture fails.

*”I’m going to the Swatch Store!” said no one in the last 20 years.

*Sears has something called the Kardashian Kollection, because having the Kim Kardashian Kollection doesn’t exactly look good on a sign…

*The Kardashian Kollection…for women who want to dress like skanks but shop at a reputable establishment.

*Cologne sold in a cigar tube…makes as much sense as selling shaving cream in a pink rubber duck.

*Why the fuck does McDonalds have a meeting room?

*Exactly how many soft pretzel stands does one mall need exactly? I’m pretty sure 3 is too many.

*Would someone please set fire to the Crocs store?

*Mini golf, with black lights, and spinning flashing strobes…Do they charge extra for getting sick? It must happen a lot.

*To the bimbo who is standing behind me, allow me to answer your question…it is cold outside because it is winter in Chicago. You are the one who chose to wear a mini-skirt so shut up!

*I love how the M&Ms reps handing out samples while wearing NASCAR shirts looked at me funny because I’m wearing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup NASCAR jacket.

*This mall has 3 pretzel stands, 3 places to get tea, 4 coffee shops, 9 places that specialize in desert, and 35 places in total to buy food, but not one store has a decent big and tall selection.

*3 Sunglasses Huts? 3?

*A used clothing store in an indoor mall? Why?

*To Frederick’s of Hollywood, if you don’t like guys staring in the windows, don’t put pictures of women in erotic lingerie near the windows.

*If I could walk from one part of the mall to another without being asked to upgrade my smartphone, that’d be great.

*J. Crew is still in business? I haven’t heard of that brand in years.

*I love how in the description of Lush there is an asterisk after “organic”

*It’s funny how the laundromat down the street from my house has a bill acceptor that can accept $5 bills, yet the newest, most advanced vending machines this mall has to offer can only accept singles…especially for a $2.25 soda.

*Males should never shop in a women’s clothing store for a wife or a girlfriend. One of two things will occur. Either they will buy something in the wrong size, or something that the owner of the store never dreamed they would sell to someone who has working vision.

*To the youth of America, underwear belongs INSIDE your clothes…that is why they call it underwear. I should never have to see anyone’s underwear in a public situation. Learn how to dress.

*There is nothing illegal about not wearing shorts when it is cold outside. Saturday was 16 degrees outside, why are you wearing shorts?

*To Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, L’Occitane, or any other store that sells scented things, is there a clause in your lease that forces you to pay to have the space cleaned after you leave? If I can smell your store from the floor above, or 3 stores away, I’m willing to bet the scent doesn’t leave quietly.

*A meeting room at McDonald’s? Why would you ever need a meeting room at McDonald’s?

*Who’s bright idea was it to have the 10th largest mall in the United States to only have 4 public bathrooms, one of which can only hold 3 people at a time?

*Free stuff rules no matter how old you are!

*So you brought your elderly mother to a shopping mall on a Saturday during the Christmas rush, and you are shocked she was overwhelmed?

*A group of young teenage girls ran up to a man in his 40’s and asked to take a picture with him because they like his shirt, and they couldn’t understand why he was uncomfortable.

*$300 for a pair of sneakers, $150 for a shirt, a pair of earrings for $200, this is why I don’t shop at Nordstrom.

*Could someone explain to me why Abercrombe and Fitch does not have windows in their stores? Do they want someone to see their clothes from outside and come in and buy them?

*Why does Auntie Anne’s have a Twitter feed?

*Guys, your shirts come with a top button for a reason, no one wants to see your chest. Please start using them.

*Since when did remote control helicopters become a hot item?

*Windows has a retail store? All we need is an Android store and the trifecta will be complete!

*I can upgrade to an iPhone 4 for $35 or buy a cracked one for $65…what will I chose?

*and finally…The Nestle Toll House Cafe has awesome cookies, why aren’t there any more of these in Chicago?

My Thoughts On Some Updates for 2018

By David G. Firestone

Last weekend was a busy one for me, so I didn’t get around to writing a My Thoughts On piece. I finished and uploaded the 2018 videos, and the Throwback Thursday pieces. I can confirm that 2018’s Throwback Thursday is focused on 24 Hours of Le Mans cars, from the 60’s to the 80’s.

I’ve also decided that Wheel Reviews will return for January. The Friday Features will be Wheel Reviews. I have two books, and two movies ready to go. Also, November will be Minor League Month for 2018. The schedule will remain the same, I like the way that the schedule works, and I’m going to continue.

Now I said this last year, but I’ll say it this year. Tailgating Time will be returning for 2018. I had wanted to bring it back this year, but it didn’t happen. This time around, I’ve been able to make things happen, and I can say that Tailgating Time will be returning, and I mean it.

Also, when Dale Earnhardt Jr raced at his final race at Talladega, he had 100,000 names covering his car…including mine. My name was on the driver’s side near the back wheel well. I did get a pic of where it was.Other than that, there isn’t much to report. Minor League Month starts next Friday, and I will devote every Friday Feature to amateur drivers, or professional drivers in the lower echelons of racing. I’ve been looking forward to this, and I know it will work.

FEW Spirits Tour, An Unexpectedly Fun Experience

[Editor’s Note: I’ve been working on a few things this week, so instead of a normal My Thoughts On, I’m gonna rerun something I did a few years ago…enjoy!-DGF]

By David G. Firestone

Growing up in Evanston Illinois, I spent most of my life in this area. I’ve had the chance to take opportunities outside of the Chicago-area, but this is home. I LOVE Evanston! I love everything about Evanston, especially the food. Heaven for me is a Mutt Special from Hecky’s,IMAG0053Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef from Mustard’s Last Stand,37 5 IMAG0027 IMAG0028 IMAG0026and Chicago-style pizza from Carmen’s.19Evanston has been a home for me, and it has been a home for the temperance movement. Francis Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union have been headquartered in Evanston for many years, and up until 1984, Evanston was dry, something amazing for a college town. So it surprised me to learn that recently, a distillery opened in Evanston.100_3884FEW Spirits was founded in 2011 at 918 Chicago Avenue, in what was, according to the owner, a chop-house. They are a craft distillery, that actually distillers their own spirits. This sets them apart from many craft distillers, who buy alcohol from industrial alcohol producers, and add their own ingredients. Everything that FEW makes is made in a series of steps in their small building. I had the opportunity to take a tour of their facility, and it was enlightening and fun.100_3882 100_3881 100_3886 100_3883First, we went into the production facility, and saw the stills and equipment used to distill their line of spirits. While they produce only produce whiskey and gin, they various ways that they can adjust their ingredients and production methods can produce a number of variations. I wish I had a way of transmitting the scent of the production facility over the internet, because it was a unique and amazing scent that I will never forget.

Also there was a small bottling facility,100_3887and some barrel storage. 100_3880There is a second facility, again in Evanston, where long-term barrel storage is held. The facility is not large, but it does have a lot of character. This character is reflected in the tasting area, where we headed next. During the tasting, we tasted a number of gin variations, including American Gin-a white 93 proof gin, Barrel-Aged Gin which has a brownish color, and Standard Issue Gin-which has 114 proof, and is similar to the type issued to the British Navy. The whiskey variations we tried were White Whiskey-which is bottled before it is put in a barrel and maintains a clear appearance, and Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys. Each of these variations was very good, and the small glasses used for the tastings look really good.100_3888 100_3889One thing you will notice about FEW is that it has a vintage character to the spirits they brew. This is evident in their shop, and their labels. The labels pay homage to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the shop is lined with vintage items with the FEW logo on it. This is an extension of the FEW character.100_3890 100_3894 100_3895 100_3896Tours take place on Saturdays at 2 and 3 PM. Sign up at fewspirits.com, it only costs $10 and is an interesting, enlightening and fun way to spend your Saturday.

http://www.fewspirits.com

My Thoughts On The Recent Pro Stock Changes For 2018

By David G. Firestone

We all know that when a tire fire starts, it’s next to impossible to put out, and the best way is to just let it burn. Well the NHRA hasn’t gotten the message with Pro Stock, which is a tire fire they ignited. Rather than let it burn, the NHRA has tried to extinguish it, with terrible results.

Earlier this week, the NHRA announced that in 2018, for nine events, Houston, Topeka, Epping, Englishtown, Bristol, Denver, Sonoma, Seattle, and Brainerd, the field will be reduced from 16 cars to 8 cars. For the other 15 events, the field will be a full 16 cars. According to NHRA.com:

“NHRA has been working closely with Pro Stock teams for several years on initiatives to improve fan engagement and interest. Changes have included switching to fuel injection; facing cars forward in the pits so fans can see the teams work on their engines; holding burnout contests and more.

“We hope this change in field size at selected events will help increase excitement and fan interest,” said NHRA president Peter Clifford.”

For some reason, promoting the category, and bringing in sponsors and manufactures doesn’t seem to be on the list of “initiatives to improve fan engagement and interest.” In Pro Stock right now there are two manufacturers, Dodge and Chevy. Dodge’s Pro Stock program is a disaster, whereas Chevy’s program is solid. Why not bring in Toyota? Dodge has one win in two years in Pro Stock, and their big driver, Allen Johnson is retiring at the end of the season.

What is this fear that the NHRA has in promoting Pro Stock? Yes, the nitro categories get more bang for the buck, but Pro Stock gets just as much television time, and the drivers are just as willing to promote sponsors. Sponsors will get everything that the nitro categories get, and the category will get more exposure, thus bringing in more sponsors, and more teams. I fail to see why the NHRA isn’t more involved in promoting the category.

I also don’t see the upside to cutting the field down to eight cars as opposed to sixteen. Granted, it won’t make the category seem empty, but all you are doing is screwing over part-time teams, and lower end full time teams. It doesn’t help anyone except the big teams. There is no upside to this setup, it doesn’t solve anything, and it shafts the smaller teams. Yet, rather than put effort and research into fixing the category, the NHRA has, in effect, placed a small bandage on a major wound. Furthermore, the NHRA seems aware that there is a major wound, but think that small bandages will fix this major wound. It doesn’t work that way.

Pro Stock fans and drivers should be very worried right now. It’s clear the category is in danger, and it’s also clear that the NHRA seems to think that it isn’t a problem, and isn’t willing to put the work needed to save the category. This can’t continue on the way it has for much longer. NHRA, please wake up, and do what is needed to fix these problems.

My Thoughts on Recent Events and Public Access Television

By David G. Firestone

When it comes to The Driver Suit Blog and DGF2099 I hated having to bring politics in, but the situation left me with little choice. I want to make this clear, I will try my best never to use either of my sites for personal political speech. The situation with the NFL owners and NASCAR owners forced a lot of people to have to make statements. Again, I hated doing it, but I had little choice. I will try to the best of my ability not to discuss politics on either of my websites.

With the heavy stuff out of the way, I can discuss something I’ve been wondering about for some time. Could someone explain to me how in 2017, public access television is still a thing? I get there are legal requirements for certain aspects, but I can’t believe in the era of YouTube, Dailymotion, and so many other video websites, that public access is still a feasible setup. Many local and even county systems are switching to internet based streaming services.

Why is public access beyond obsolete? Well let’s say I have a band in Chicago. We decide that we want to get some exposure. Our options are either go on YouTube, and, for free, let hundreds of millions of people all over the world whenever they want to see it, or, for $100, go on local access, which can reach 3,000,000 people at most, even though most people won’t be watching any of the public access channels. Anyone with any brains at all can see that YouTube is the better option.

Many city meetings and county meetings are streamed via YouTube, yet there are requirements that cable companies carry these same meetings. If you aren’t watching live, you can watch one of the reruns, provided that there isn’t anything else on television that anyone else in the household wants to watch. This outdated technology makes no sense in the era of On Demand systems which come with every cable system in 2017.

Who in the world is paying $100 to broadcast to a few hundred thousand people, when you can use a system that can bring millions of people on your product for free. I am amazed that there aren’t one, or two, but hundreds of public access television stations across the country. How do these stations stay in business?

Not all that long ago, there used to be many stores that sold the newest music, in the form of records and cassette tapes. How many of these stores are still around? Not many of the stores are, because a newer technology, that is superior in every way to the outdated technology has taken over. I think that public access is the same as a cassette tape, and is obsolete, and needs to go away. We are in the 21st Century, and we should start acting like it.