When Alexis DeJoria Racing invited us up to Englishtown to meet NHRA nitro funny car driver Alexis DeJoria and watch her compete in the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I had never attended an NHRA race before. But after my Baptism by Nitro, I was totally hooked!
They say your first nitro experience is unforgettable, and that’s a fact. The rumble of 10,000 horsepower side-by-side action and the smell of the nitro-burning cars launching down the drag strip at more than 300MPH are sensations that can only be experienced at an NHRA national event. Die-hard fans flock to the open pits and watch the buildup and teardown of every race car competing during the weekend. The exhilarating action and fan accessibility are just a few of the many reasons why NHRA drag racing has developed an incredible fan base, one of the most loyal in sports.
We came out to Englishtown NJ a few weeks ago to meet Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón nitro Funny Car. If her last name sounds familiar, that’s because she is the daughter of world-famous billionaire John Paul DeJoria, owner and co-founder Paul Mitchell hair care systems and The Patron Spirits Company. She’s also married to Monster Garage star Jesse James. Needless to say, she’s not your typical nitro driver.
Pilot of one of the world’s most powerful race cars, NHRA superstar Alexis DeJoria brings a different energy to the sport with her rock ‘n roll vibe. She was bitten by the racing bug early on and currently drives a 10,000 horsepower nitro Funny Car. These nitro-burning, fire-breathing machines accelerate from 0-100MPH in less than one second, and can cover 1,000 feet in less than four seconds and speeds in excess over 300MPH!
While DeJoria could have used her considerably resources to jump right into NHRA nitro cars from the word go, she instead worked her way up from the bottom, starting her NHRA career in 2005, first competing in the Super Gas category and then moving into a rear engine Super Comp dragster. From there, she moved in to a Top Alcohol Funny Car, and after achieving her goals in TAFC, she made the highly-anticipated leap to nitro Funny Car, where she’s been making headlines ever since.
As for her famous husband, he’s actually a full-on part of the team now, wrenching on the car with the rest of the crew. I wasn’t aware of his involvement beforehand, so when I saw him casually walk by, I was more than a little surprised. Fans on the other hand are well aware of James’ involvement with the team, crowding the Patrón XO Café trailer in hopes of catching a glimpse of him, with the occasional onlooker even asking for an autograph from him. But when the crew is racing against the clock to get the engine rebuilt before the next round, it’s all business with James.
The two seem to be a good match for each other given their mutual interests in motorcycles, cars (among her collection are a ’67 Chevy Chevelle SS, a chopped ’49 Merc, and a Murcielago), motocross, skydiving, and tattoos, just to name a few. And the fact that they get to spend so much time together (even displaying some brief public display of affection in between all the work) is just icing on the cake.
So what did I think of my first NHRA race? It was freaking intense! There’s no way to describe the sound (and feeling) of 10,000 horsepower as these cars roar by you at hundreds of miles an hour, it’s just something you have to experience for yourself. Just make sure you bring some ear protection and some sunscreen. You can thank me later.
There are plenty of races left in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, so be sure you come out to a race when they come through your area.
Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography and Cesar Andre Photography
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Gets A Substantial Power Boost, Higher Redline
When we drove the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it didn’t take long for us to fall for it, as it offers one of the purest driving experiences out there. In fact, we described the ND as “the most fun you can have for under $30K”. And that’s a statement I’ll stand by today.
If you’re looking for a car that will deliver maximum smiles per hour as you go flat out through the twisties, it honestly doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously, if I lived in an area with fun roads (and less snow), there’d be a Miata parked in my garage right now.
Still.. a little extra power would be nice, as the Miata only has 155 horsepower on tap, which is less than the Fiat 124 Spider, even though they’re essentially the same cars!
But that’s about to change. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a substantial bump in power, with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, with a richer torque curve throughout the car’s entire rev range. And the redline has increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm.
While an additional 26 HP might not sound like much, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio. The Miata is a lightweight car in it’s own right, weighing in at 2,300 pounds and change, which is 1,000 less than most “regular” cars. Coupled with the better torque curve, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in the way the car drives. Zoom-Zoom!
Mazda says the new MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — engineering philosophy.
Beyond the engine improvements, the 2019 MX-5 introduces an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel (30mm of travel), easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cupholders and seat levers. There are also some additional safety features.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 will be available in the U.S. this fall, with pricing, packaging and full specifications to be announced closer to on-sale timing.
Of course, the age old question.. Go with a new 2019 Miata, or get a left-over ’18 model for a big discount? Decisions, decisions..
The 2019 BMW 8 Series Is The Luxury Super Coupe We’ve Been Waiting For
When BMW unveiled the Concept 8 Series last year, it caused quite a stir for obvious reasons. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the last 8 Series rolled off the production line back in 1999, and we had long given up on BMW ever bringing back the storied nameplate.
But was the Bavarian car company just teasing us with another sexy concept that wouldn’t see the light of day, as is so often the case?
Today, we got our answer, with the introduction of the all-new 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, a luxury sports coupe that is ready to take on the competition with outstanding performance, beautiful design and state of the art technology.
The directive for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s design was to provide a thrilling driving experience. Body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class luxury sports coupe.
Styling wise, the production model stays fairly true to the concept, exuding “a very modern form of sporting appeal beautifully blended with an air of exclusiveness and sensual allure.” The 8 Series is the first model to show off BMW’s new design language that is focusing on modernity and emotional engagement.
The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillars, a roofline with a distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.
The first variant to launch, the BMW M850i xDrive, is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. And it will serve up an enthralling soundtrack along the way.
As the name suggests, the BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, and it’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are included as standard for manual gear selection, while a Launch Control function allows for accelerating from a standing start with maximum available traction.
Being BMW’s flagship vehicle, the car will come loaded with luxury features and technology, more than there’s space for here to go on about. But rest assured, you’ll be rolling around in the lap of luxury, and the envy of all of your neighbors.
Pricing for the BMW 8 Series Coupe will be released closer to its launch date this Fall.
What do you guys think about the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe?
New 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 Would Get Carroll’s Stamp Of Approval
When the 2018 Ford Mustang launched last Fall, there were a number of models for buyers to choose from (EcoBoost, GT, Performance Pack 1, Performance Pack 2, Bullitt). But one model that was noticeably absent from the list was the track-ready Shelby GT350.
Like many others, I figured that Ford Performance was focused on the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500, and that the Shelby GT350 would ultimately get phased out. But Ford surprised us the other day when they unveiled a new 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 at a media event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.
As you can see from these photos, the Shelby GT350 doesn’t adopt the 2018 Mustang’s styling updates, continues on with the same exterior design as before. Nor does it receive any changes under the hood, sticking with the glorious 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that puts out 526HP at 8,250 rpm and 429 lb-ft. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what is new? Ford Performance engineers and designers incorporated the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology into the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350.
Working exclusively with Michelin, the team also engineered new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a Shelby GT350-specific tread pattern and different compound to deliver more grip for significantly improved acceleration and lateral acceleration, as well as braking. These tires are wrapped around new 19-inch aluminum wheels.
An all-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap and optimized grille closeout was designed and tuned with experience gained from wind tunnel development of the Ford Performance Mustang road course racing cars and upcoming Shelby GT500 model. Together, they deliver significant rear greater aerodynamic efficiency when equipped with the new optional Gurney flap on the rear spoiler, which will be available after launch.
Upgrades to Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension complement the aero and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.
Stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes. For added control and improved driver feedback, Shelby GT350’s electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings feature enhancements taken from Ford Performance’s hundreds of hours of competitive track testing.
The result of all of these tweaks and adjustments? A more balanced, higher-performing car on the straightaways and especially in the corners.
“The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Shelby GT350 could get any better than it already was, but clearly I was wrong. The new model will be the benchmark for the competition, and I can’t wait to get some seat time with it.. hopefully on a race track!