The way that Alexis DeJoria looked at me, you would have thought that I’d asked her if maybe crew chief Del Worsham was going to run the big tires on the front of her new ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota.
It was one of those softball, warm-up questions you ask to get the party started, the way a crew chief might warm up the first engine of the year after the off-season. After all, it had been more than two years since she’d driven a flame-throwing 11,000-hp Funny Car.
“So, did you ask Del to take it easy on you the first couple of runs, maybe a little softer tune-up?”
“Oh, God no,” she said good-naturedly, laughing. “I don’t have any training wheels on. I want everything he has got.”
DeJoria was in her trailer lounge at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, the first official event of her comeback season, signing hero cards by the dozen for the ROKiT employees on hand who’d driven over from the company’s Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters to see the debut of “their” car. Her father and No. 1 fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria, was part of the autograph process, waving around each of the photos to air-dry her stylish signature.
Truth be told, DeJoria entered the Winternationals with more laps under her belt than any other driver since last year’s season finale, testing in Bakersfield in November, in Tucson, Ariz., in mid/late January, and then taking part in the annual Pro test session in Las Vegas the week before the Winternationals.
“Obviously, the first run in the car was, ‘Oh man, this is loud and fast,’ but I already feel very comfortable in the car. Del and Nicky [Boninfante, co-crew chief] have made this really easy. Almost from the start, it didn’t feel like I’d been gone two years. I was more worried about the warm-up — stressing out and hoping that I remembered the procedures — than the actual runs.”