BLAKE ALEXANDER'S PASSION FOR DRAG RACING IS OVERWHELMING
Passion. It’s all about how you display it.
And for Funny Car racer Blake Alexander, it was on full display at the NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. Moments after scoring an exhilarating and hard-fought win, he put it on full display without a corporate correctness care in the world.
Then, the television crew shoved a microphone in his face.
“Thanks to all the people who put up with my s---.” Holding the Wally trophy and the custom ice cream scoop that Norwalk winners traditionally receive, an emotional Alexander said the victory is for “waking up at four o’clock in the morning” and tackling the task of finding funding for the chance to race, something for which he said he lives and breathes. And it’s for the sometimes-heartbreaking journey, including the highway fatality involving beloved crew member Dylan Cromwell in October 2021.
Alexander recorded his career-first victory at Norwalk, which happens to be in Head’s home state of Ohio. “We’re comfy out here,” he said after winning his semifinal match-up against top qualifier Bob Tasca III.
Susan Wade described it the best in this insertion of Alexander into the popular series, The Ten.
Alexander’s passion is deep-rooted in being a throwback-style drag racer.
“I don’t want to admit this, but it’s really all I am,” Alexander said. “It’s all I am now, at this point. I’m 34 years old. When you’re a kid, and you’ve been saving up your money to run a junior dragster, and you and your dad finally gets to do that, and then as I kind of progress up through the ranks, you just kind of realize that this is all I’ve ever done kind of like Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante.
“I was kind laughing at what Del and Nicky, when he was saying they never had a job, and I was kind of like, ‘Well, I’ve dug some holes, and I’ve worked in some warehouses, but all I’ve really ever done since I was 16 is drag race.”
The more Alexander thinks about it, the more he realizes he’s an old soul with an affection for nitromethane.
“It’s been nice getting to know these other older nitro heads like Jim [Head] because I’m just like them,” Alexander admitted. “It’s in a unique new way, but I’m addicted to nitro, just like the people were in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s just a different look and a different feel to it than a guy who lived in a trailer park in Yorba Linda and grew up. I’m just a kid who would now have to have a laptop and some education to kind of come up in the drag racing ranks from nothing, I guess.”
Alexander would tell you that no matter how many times you threw the variables of his career into a bag and shook them up when the bag emptied, his best option would always be teaming up with Head, one of the most opinionated and passionate players in the game with more life experience than a whippersnapper like Alexander could imagine.
“He’s like a renaissance man in that he’s very into a lot of different things and understands a lot of different things,” Alexander explained. “I could talk to him about skiing, snowboarding, and all the board sports I do. I can also talk to him about food and sports and stuff, and then we also have conversations about drag racing. And it’s very nice to be able to race with someone who teaches me about life, business, and racing all at the same time. He has taught me basically a lot of things about how to be efficient as a businessman.”
The intimidation factor? “Please,” Alexander laughed. “I’ve driven for Paul Smith before.”
“Jim’s put his whole life into it, and I’m putting my whole life into it as a response,” Alexander said. “So that’s really all I can say. The kids on our race team are putting their whole life into it. So if you just look at it that way, then let the chips fall where they may each weekend; I know that is all I can do each day, almost to the point of it not being mentally healthy. Then, from that point forward, I just work on being focused on being a good race car driver because that’s a completely different element of... I’ve had to work really hard to get good at that.”
Alexander said while he’d love to believe their relationship is mutually knowledge beneficial, the reality is the scales are leaned heavily in favor of him being a sponge and learning as much as he can.
“I think he’s certainly taught me more,” Alexander said. “I’m a younger person. Anyone who’s older than me is going to teach me, and that’s something I would implore to people of my generation is just to sit back and listen sometimes and watch. But I’d say that, yeah, I have a new style of doing things, and it may not all be the right way of doing it, but there’s a modern-day of working, and he’s stylistically adapted to that and accepted that.
“Jim’s the type of guy that’s capable of doing that, to begin with. So he still uses his phone and, is up on technology and reads all the time. So, just because he’s a little bit older than me doesn’t mean that we can’t necessarily connect.
“I just like working with [Jim] because there’s not a man in the pits that cares more than him about how everything’s going from the safety standpoint or the way the car is running, to the understanding of it. And I’m glad that I can be involved in a small portion of that and learn along the way.”
Every day, Alexander is hustling and hustling, keeping the dream alive and sealing deals one by one.
“There’s a sense of pride that I have in doing what I do, and I think people know that when they meet me, and I wear it a little bit, and I think it makes me a better all-around businessman, person, and husband and father,” Alexander said. “Every day, I struggle, and I don’t do a very good job of being a perfect person by any means, but at the end of the day, that’s all I really care about. Then, within the realm of being a good teammate, a good business partner to Jim, I need to work really hard every day to try to find money to support my family, to support the race team’s families, to be a big cog in the wheel so I can compete against these big teams that have huge establishments that we’re competing against.”