Wow- it’s been a longggg time since my last blog post. Sorry for slacking! Okay so let’s get caught up.
Since my last entry we raced in Gainesville and the FourWide in Charlotte… both were fairly uneventful. In early April we went to Vegas, the scene of our team’s second win. While we weren’t able to bring home the Wally in Vegas this year, we did make it to the semis, our second semi-final round of the season. Also, it was cool to see Erica Enders double-up again… always gotta show support for the ladies!
Before racing got underway in Vegas, JR Todd, Cody Poor (Kalitta PR), and myself met up with our local friends Jake Conlee (LV Informer) and Jennifer and Greg of Screen Content Management so they could show us some fun non-Vegas-Strip things to do during the day on Thursday. We started our day by driving out to Nelson, an abandoned ghost town about 45 minutes outside of downtown Vegas. Nelson is an old Wild West town, and after a flash flood in the 70s that wiped out much of the town’s population, has sat pretty much abandoned ever since.
While we were in Nelson, news had reached us that there was a fire in the Patrón truck back at the track. Although I didn’t witness it personally, according to our crew guys, things got pretty hairy for a little while but thanks to the entire Kalitta Motorsports organization, the Snap-On team, and several other teams pitted near our truck, the fire was extinguished with minimal damage. Everyone came out unscathed and our race cars were untouched. This just goes to show how it truly is a family atmosphere at the track. It doesn’t matter what team you work on… when it comes down to it, everyone is ready and willing to jump in and help other teams in times of need, competition aside.
After our group left Nelson, we headed to the Hoover Dam. I had been there a few times before over the years, but it’s always cool to see it. Jennifer is afraid of heights so it was fun to tease her a bit when walking up top and looking down into the dam. From the dam, we went to a dope little sushi spot, Lucky Foo’s in South Vegas. It’s always nice to find a cool restaurant that’s off The Strip. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Strip; we race there twice a year and it’s always fun to spend time on Las Vegas Blvd, but sometimes you just need a break from all of the neon lights and massive crowds. After our late lunch, we headed to NHRA FanFest where we met up with Alexis and Del.
Fanfest was full of its usual craziness and after the autograph session ended, JR, Cody, my boyfriend Matt (bottom end guy on the DHL car) and I headed over to the Stratosphere. To celebrate JR’s one-year anniversary with Team Kalitta, Cody had set it up for JR to jump off the top of the Stratosphere. It’s 855-feet and 108 stories high. While I was originally there for moral support, after watching JR get all suited up, I just couldn’t stand there and be a spectator. I knew I would be mad at myself if I didn’t do it take advantage of the opportunity and jump too. While the actual jump itself is kind of anticlimactic because it’s a controlled drop it’s definitely a bit of an adrenaline rush when you get suited up, ride the elevator all the way up to the top, and then get all of your safety equipment hooked on. Once you’re all strapped into your safety equipment they have you go and stand at the edge of the platform nd hang your toes over the edge. Standing there 855-feet high above Las Vegas is a pretty crazy feeling. I definitely had a brief moment of ‘what did I get myself into,’ but then the SkyJump operators give you the cue that you’re clear to jump and from that point on, any fears are erased and you just cruise on down to the bottom.
After Vegas race we had about two weeks off before we went to Houston. While I didn’t start the weekend in Houston by jumping off of any buildings, I was able to convince Matt, who is scared of heights, to go on the Drop Zone ride with me at the Kemah boardwalk on Thursday night. That was only a 140-foot drop but I think it was plenty high for him!
I was especially excited for the Houston race because a few days before we headed out West to Texas, we received word from John Paul’s assistant that JP’s friend and rapper Timbaland would be coming out to the races with him on Saturday. I am a huge fan of Timbaland- Luv 2 Luv Ya was my jam back in the 90s! The Patrón hospitality tent was super crowded all day on Saturday, and Timbaland always seemed to have a crowd around him. I didn’t want to bother him so I never ended up meeting him in person, but according to Emily our Hospitality Manager, he told her before he left town that he had a great time and would absolutely be back at another NHRA race. Hopefully I’ll get to meet him sometime in the future! That’s the thing with Alexis’ dad, he has so many cool friends, and you just never know who is going to show up with him. One time I met Dan Akroyd and Danny Trejo all in the same weekend.
As I type this it’s Monday morning and I’m flying back home to West Palm from Michigan. We have an upcoming segment with a CNBC show, and they needed to film some things at our race shop in Ypsilanti, so I flew up last Monday and stayed through the weekend to hang out with Matt and my friends on the team. The CNBC segment should be really great. The crew got a ton of solid footage of our tireless crew guys hard at work. We still have two more segments to shoot with the CNBC folks- at the track, and at Alexis’ home in Texas- before it’s a wrap, so I don’t have an air date for you guys just yet, but hopefully I will soon.
I’ve got three days at home before it’s time to fly up to Atlanta. Atlanta is probably my least favorite stop on the tour. It seems like it rains there every year. The rain aside, it was the scene of Alexis’ first No. 1 qualifier and track record, so that’s pretty cool. If the conditions are good and it looks like there’s a record run out there, you can bet Tommy will go after it and maybe Alexis can reset her own record. We are still looking to pick up our first win of the season, so who knows, maybe Atlanta will become one of my favorite places after this weekend.
That’s it for now, sorry for the long lapse between entries. I promise I will be more consistent from now on! Til next time… Cheers!
Hey guys! Thanks for checking back in with me. In my last entry, we left off with the Pomona race. A ton has happened since then so let’s get caught up, shall we?
Immediately following the Pomona race we did our annual photo shoot. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, because the decision to switch to Incendio wasn’t decided until a few weeks into the off-season, there wasn’t enough time to get the car, helmet and firesuit done and still have time to do a photo shoot before the trucks headed west for the race. I must admit I was secretly happy that because of circumstances we had to do the photo shoot ‘on location’ rather than in a studio, as we have done in years past. I had been wanting to do an ‘on location’ shoot for years, but logistically it never worked out as our car spends the off-season at our race shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan and obviously an outdoor photo shoot in the dead of winter in Michigan, is just not doable. Shooting on the track in Pomona really made the photos that much more visually interesting. Alexis looked gorgeous, the car looked hot, and the weather was perfect!
Our day started bright and early at 6AM with hair/makeup, and lighting setup, and we then spent the next 14-hours shooting. We basically crammed two days worth of work into one day. It was a long and grueling day, and we were all a little cranky those last few hours, but in the end, it was all worth it because we got so much accomplished. Hats off to our amazing photographer, Cesar, his wife, Nayad (http://www.cesarandre.com) and our talented hair/makeup artist, Angie Panelli of John Paul Mitchell Systems.
This was actually our third time shooting with Cesar. We first met him back in 2012 when he was hired by Super Chevy magazine to shoot Alexis and her ’67 Chevelle SS (http://www.superchevy.com/features/1405-1967-chevrolet-chevelle-ss-more-than-meets-the-eye/). We were so impressed with his work that we then used him for our 2013 annual pre-season photo shoot. Cesar, Nayad and Angie are total rockstars and masters of their crafts.
Check out some of our favorite images from the shoot: PHOTO GALLERY OF SHOOT IMAGES HERE
After we wrapped the shoot in Pomona, our trucks and vans made the short(ish) trek from Pomona to Phoenix and were parked there until the following Wednesday giving everyone at Team Kalitta seven days off. Rather than flying back home to FL, I decided t o stay out West with my boyfriend, Matt, who does the bottom end on the DHL car, and accompany him up to Sacramento so he could test drive the Nitro Nick nostalgia Funny Car. Matt has been around drag racing since he was in diapers, and has been involved in some capacity for many years, having worked for Gary Densham and on several nostalgia cars before joining Kalitta in 2011 to work on a ‘big show’ car full time. A dream of his has always been to drive, and last year during the 2013-2014 off-season, he successfully licensed in Jason Rupert’s ‘Black Plague’ nostalgia FC. The opportunity came about for him to possibly drive the Cecil Matthews and Randy Lucchetti-owned Nitro Nick car this year but first he had to test and prove himself as a driver, which was why we went up to Sacramento during that time off after Pomona.
I must say, I was a little bit nervous to watch him go down the track at Sacramento Raceway because the only time he had EVER staged and driven a car before that was when he got licensed. Not to mention, that was a full year prior. But, he did a great job and definitely proved himself, as he will be driving the Nitro Nick car at as many races that don’t conflict with our Mello Yello series schedule this year, including the reunion in Bakersfield in October. Definitely keep your eye on him; he’ll be one to watch, for sure!
Oh, and for anyone who’s wondering, YES testing fell on Valentine’s Day, so that’s how we spent our V-Day… at Sacramento Raceway followed by a night out of eating pizza and drinking beer at a biker bar to watch our friend Mark (who works on Courtney’s car) uncle’s band, The Fryed Brother’s, play. Definitely not your typical Valentine’s Day, but it was a great time and we had so much fun.
After testing in Sacramento, we spent the next two days in San Francisco just chilling out and enjoying the city. One of the perks of nonstop travel is accumulating a ton of hotel points, which equates to free nights in addition to other perks. We were able to book a badass hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown San Fran, all for free! Matt had never been to that city before so we made sure to do plenty of San Francisco-esque things like walk around Haight/Ashbury, Fisherman’s Wharf, go to Lombard St, walk up (or shall I say hike) some insanely steep neighborhood streets, and eat some super dope Asain cuisine. Even though we were only there for two nights and two full days, we certainly crammed a lot in to a short period of time and enjoyed our mini vacation.
After our weeklong pit stop in NorCal, it was time to jet off to Phoenix for the second race of the season. We were all super pumped to return to the Phoenix track since it was the sight of the Patron team’s career-first win. Before it was time to start burning nitro, Alexis and I met up on Thursday morning for a full days’ worth of media. We hit up every TV affiliate and stopped by to visit Kenny & Crash of SpeedFreaks in their Phoenix studio where they broadcast their local sports show. It had been quite a while since we had seen them, so it was great to catch up.
The weather in Phoenix was fantastic and although we didn’t have a repeat of last year’s big win, we did make it to the semis and both Doug and Del battled it out in the TF and FC final rounds. They both lost, unfortunately, but both races were very close, and very exciting nail-biter rounds. With all four cars making it out of first round, one going to the semis, and two going to the finals that weekend, it’s safe to say that Team Kalitta is one of the most competitive teams on the circuit right now.
Before we tore down the pits and packed up our trucks, I had a chance to meet with a dear old friend who used to live in FL but is now living in Phoenix. When my friend Louise lived here in FL, she and I worked together at the same PR agency where I first got my start working with Alexis. Although Louise and I worked on separate accounts, she actually had a brief cameo working on the Patron Racing account when she accompanied me to Dallas back in 2011 to help me with Alexis’ big TAFC-to-FC launch party. Since that time she’s gotten married and had a baby. Her six-month-old son came out to the track and amazingly he slept through the entire fourth round of TF/FC qualifying! He had earmuffs on, but still… guess that’s where the term ‘slept like a baby’ comes from!
Here we are posing with Patron’s FIRST nitro car in September 2011:
We’re gearing up for Gainesville now. I’m driving up to Orlando from North Palm Beach this afternoon and then Alexis and I have a full day of media in Orlando tomorrow. Our day starts bright and early on the nationally syndicated show The Daily Buzz. She’ll be on LIVE at 6:45AM EST. Be sure to check your local listings and tune in! Hopefully my next blog will be recapping our Gainesville WIN!
Til next time, CHEERS!
Welcome to my blog! I’m the Publicist for Alexis DeJoria Racing/Patrón Funny Car team. Several other team reps write blogs documenting their travels, so I figured I would too; we do a lot of cool stuff, so why not, right?
This first blog entry is going to be kinda long, and hopefully not too boring… Think of it as that ‘get to know you’ first date.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I get asked about my job… ‘What’s it like to work in drag racing?’ ‘Does it get old living out of a suitcase for most of the year?’ ‘What’s your favorite track and favorite place to visit?’
In this blog, which I plan to update regularly, I’ll answer all of those questions and more.
Okay so first of all, yes my job title is ‘Publicist,’ but in a career like this, you’re so many other things. With our team (and I suspect many other teams as well), we’re a very lean operation. There are very few people, and we all wear a LOT of hats. Our operation prides itself on having ‘few moving parts.’
I travel to all 24 races, media events, sponsor appearances and more with Alexis, so being the team rep is not just a career… it’s a lifestyle. And the live-work-eat-play-travel together combination makes for a lot of fun, crazy and memorable moments on the road.
So, a little about me… 2015 marks my sixth season as the team rep. I started working with Alexis back in 2010; her last full season in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class. Back in those days I was working for a PR agency in FL, and the Patrón race team was my client. After two years working with the team via the agency, the decision was made early into the 2012 season (her first full year in FC), for me to be a full-time employee of Alexis DeJoria Racing. I left the agency, packed my bags, and it was off to the races! I never looked back, and have loved every minute of it… minus the rain delays, of course.
Getting used to life on the road was a bit of an adjustment at first. All sense of normalcy and predictability goes out the window. There’s no such thing as routine with this life. There are so many times I’ve woken up and forgotten what city I’m in, or became confused by the time zone. I’m not complaining though; I absolutely love this on-the-go, never-standing-still life. It makes for many adventures, and affords me the opportunity to explore this great country. Not to mention, I’m so NOT the 9-5 Mon-Fri desk job type of girl. My office is the race track, and don’t think for a second I don’t know how lucky I am to be able to say that. For many people, drag racing is a passion or a hobby; for me, it’s a career, and for that I am grateful.
Okay, so to answer the rest of the typical first date questions… I grew up in the Baltimore/DC area and now live in North Palm Beach, FL, have a 4 ½ year old puggle named Murphy, have a weird obsession with forensic science and compulsively watch Forensic Files and Dateline (I’ll be a crime scene investigator in my next life), love animals and anything having to do with animal welfare. I enjoy watching documentaries, love modern American history, and enjoy learning about America’s most notorious criminals (I recently finished reading Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson and Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal… I guess this goes back to my desire to be a crime scene investigator). I am a crossword puzzle freak! I do at least one crossword every day, either when I first wake up or before bed. I went to Florida State University (GO NOLES!) for my undergrad degree, and Lynn University for my masters. Sushi, pizza, fries with Ranch dressing, and cheese are among my favorite foods. I will always choose white wine over red, salty over sweet, and my preferred brand from the Patrón portfolio is Ultimat Vodka… with club soda and a lime wedge, please.
Now that you know a little bit about me, let’s get back to business.
As you now know, we are representing the Patrón XO Cafe Incendio brand this season. It was a big hit at Pomona II last season, and although was originally intended to be a one-race deal, it was decided early into the off-season to represent Incendio during the 2015 season as well. This particular brand fits Alexis so well; it’s spicy, it’s fiery, it’s HOT! Our car looks badass and I can’t wait for you all to see it this weekend when we debut it in Pomona.
Switching from purple XO Cafe to the red/orange XO Cafe Incendio in the short off-season is a lot of work, let me tell you. Everything gets changed; from our car, to Alexis’ helmet, to our business cards, website, media kits… you name it, it has to be changed, and as I previously mentioned, we’re a small operation, so it was a busy off-season for all of us. In fact, we didn’t even have enough time between designing the car and having it painted to squeeze in a photo shoot with Alexis and/or the car during the off-season, so we will do that immediately following the Pomona race. (Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes pics from the shoot in my next blog entry) For that reason, you’ll notice our hero cards for the first two races simply have a rendering of the car, and only one photo of Alexis. Here’s some insider intel for you: That photo of Alexis on the first batch of hero cards is actually a photo from our 2014 XO Cafe shoot. We used Photoshop to change her firesuit from purple to red/orange and added the Incendio logo on her shirt... Modern technology is amazing, isn’t it?! So for the folks attending Pomona I or Phoenix, you’ll have almost a ‘special edition’ hero card, because starting with Gainesville, we’ll introduce our official 2015 hero card complete with brand new images from the photo shoot.
Also needing to be updated was the Alexis DeJoria Racing merchandise collection. Our new items are hot, hot, hot! We’re so excited for everyone to check out the new collection, all of which is designed with Alexis’ input and ideas. Nothing gets produced that she doesn’t personally think is cool. There’s one other thing you should know… While many drivers simply ‘drive’ and do some media appearances here and there, Alexis is completely hands-on with every aspect of the race team… She’s very involved in the business side and nothing goes out without her approval. Racing is only a small portion of what she does. This just goes to show how dedicated she is to her career.
It’s now the Tuesday before the race weekend and both Alexis and I are flying into California today; she from Austin, and me from Florida. We start with media bright and early tomorrow morning. LA fans- be sure to look for Alexis on KTLA tomorrow night, and a feature story in the LA Times.
As most of you know, we didn’t do any testing during the off-season this year, so Q1 will be the first time Alexis has gotten strapped into the seat of her 10,000-horespower Patrón XO Cafe Incendio Toyota Camry since the NHRA Finals back in November. At both the season opener and closer at Pomona last year, Alexis made a sub-four second pass. As she is the only female to have made a sub-four second run in competition, she is officially the ‘Quickest Woman in FC History.’ Many of our competitors tested this year, and laid down some sick numbers, particularly those that went out to Phoenix. The cars have gotten so fast, and the competition is so fierce. It’ll be interesting to see how this season shakes out. I’ve enjoyed the off-season, but I’m ready to get back to racing! In just a few short days we’ll be back at the track, burning nitro! Can’t wait… til next time, cheers!