Alexis DeJoria is taking her first year as a Nitro Funny Car driver one step at a time.
It has been a learning experience, but she's excited about her progress in a sport dominated by men.
So what did she do to make her first statement in the sport?
Her first, and only, round win this season was over 15-time champion and drag racing legend John Force.
"He was very supportive afterwards and he gave me the thumbs up," DeJoria said.
She is one of only two women competing in Nitro Funny Car, along with Force's daughter, Courtney.
Does it bother her being singled out as a woman in a man's sport?
"Just part of it," DeJoria said Wednesday morning in an interview at Panera Bread restaurant in North Olmsted.
"There are just two of us, me and Courtney. If you can be a pioneer to young girls. ... That would be fantastic. The bottom line is I am a woman going after a Wally (championship trophy). I want to win."
How does she get along with Courtney?
"We try to hook up a lot," she said. "We are both rookies this year and spend a lot of time in interviews talking about it. I would hope we have each others' back."
The NHRA circuit stops at Thunder Valley in Bristol, Tenn., this weekend, takes a week off, heads to Chicago then comes to Norwalk for the first time over the Fourth of July Weekend.
"The track is excellent," DeJoria said about Norwalk. "The Baders have done an excellent job and have put on a great event. I am competing at the race in Norwalk and the Night Under Fire (Aug. 11) for the first time.
"It's really a family event (racing at Norwalk). I have a 9-year-old daughter and she loves coming to Norwalk. We love Kalahari, going to Cedar Point and just the track itself is accommodating to the kids."
DeJoria, 34, is in her seventh year in the sport. She spent the last three years driving a Top Alcohol Funny Car.
What is the difference between the two?
"It's 3,500 horse power versus 8,000 horse power," she said. "You are looking at 267 miles per hour in 5.40 seconds compared to Ron Capps, who last weekend in Englishtown (N.J.) went 3.964 seconds at 320 miles per hour. That's a whole lot faster."
DeJoria has spent the majority of her life fascinated by speed. From fighter jets to street machines, she has always wanted to go fast and live life to its fullest, but it was when she first saw a Nitro Funny Car in action that she realized that was where she wanted to be.
The first car she raced was a 1963 Corvette Roadster in the Super Gas category in 2005 and then quickly moved into a rear engine Super Comp dragster.
She was presented an opportunity to drive a Top Alcohol Funny Car and spent a couple of years with a two-car team, competing primarily on the West Coast. DeJoria adjusted well to the 3,000 horsepower alcohol burning Funny Car and continued to improve her skills. In 2009, she made a major commitment in her racing career by moving east and building her own team, Stealth Motorsports, from scratch. She co-owned and operated the team for three years, and was one of the few females ever to do so.
While racing for Stealth, she made history by competing in the first ever "woman vs. woman" race in her class in 2010. Never one to shy away from adversity, she proved her grit to racing fans everywhere when she returned to the track following an intense mid-season crash in Englishtown, N.J., in 2009.
In 2011, she tore up the track in a Tequila Patrón sponsored Monte Carlo. She broke two world records for the fastest speed (267.91 mph) and quickest time (5.446 seconds) in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category which held up to be the second fastest in the nation, and is currently the fastest of any woman. At the 2011 NHRA Northwest Fall Nationals, she took the top spot, claiming her first ever National win in TAFC. She was the second woman ever to accomplish this feat.
As she continued to gain experience with every pass down the quarter mile, she looked forward to fulfilling her dream of competing at the highest level of the sport. In September 2010, DeJoria began testing for Nitro Funny Car.
She was licensed in Ennis, Texas, immediately following the 2010 Texas Fall Nationals.
After a year of testing, DeJoria made the highly-anticipated leap from Top Alcohol Funny Car to Nitro Funny Car at the 2011 Texas Fall Nationals. She joined the legendary Kalitta Motorsports team as their fourth member and second Funny Car driver, where she drove the black and green Tequila Patrón car.
In December 2011, the announcement was made that legendary driver and 2011 NHRA Champion Del Worsham, would join Kalitta Motorsports as the Crew Chief on the Alexis DeJoria Racing team.