It would be noble and gritty for me to say that I started rooting for Alexis DeJoria during her Super Comp days, but it would also be a load of crap. I first saw her signing autographs in the pits at Indy, maybe 2010 and I was blown away by her T-shirt. No, it didn't have splashy graphics or a witty slogan, it was white. And SNUG. All it needed was a bucket of I have to draw a picture here, hey, men are PIGS, we tend to notice stuff like this. But then, to use my high school history teacher’s phrase, I "cracked a book, because you might learn something". And what I learned, I liked.


I'm thinking, let me make sure I've got this right: her dad is filthy rich, but she didn't care, she blew off the cash and struck out on her own, and got into CARS? Most little princesses from money hit the red carpet with a dog the size of a WAFFLE in their purse, making sure their nails are done. Alexis hit the track, and nails? Yeah, right, try busted knuckles instead. I have a wealth of 'crazy superstitions' and on the weekend of the 2014 race in Phoenix, I thought it would be "good karma" to buy a bottle of PATRON...and then I saw the PRICE! I settled for the bottle I could afford, and sure as horseBLEEP, she won! Snagging Indy later that year made for one of my best Indy’s ever. Having been to 35, that compliment does not come lightly....


Which brings us to one Shirley Ann Muldowney. I could genuinely fill fifteen columns of The Nitro Joint with Shirley stories, so it could come across as a slight that this icon, nah, almost god-like presence in our sport will get "just a paragraph", but trust me, no slight at all, there is just too much ground to cover. I can honestly tell you this, I didn't like her in the beginning, but it was being there at the real-life version of what 'Heart Like a Wheel' spun off as "a driveway in Ypsilanti" for it all to turn around with me. I sought her out later that day, and tried to give her an awesome apology, which probably ACTUALLY came out with me looking at my shoes, mumbling about how "I've been an ass, you’re pretty cool, go get 'em". Maybe in the movie of MY life, we'll play THAT out in a snow-covered Michigan driveway, and I'll be played by a Hologram of John, wait, STEVE McQUEEN!! (right...with my luck, it'll be a direct-to-DVD thing, and I'll be played by Tom Arnold.)


So, that's October, in praise of racers...who happen to use the Ladies Room. Thanks for hanging out, time for me to say C-YAAAA!!


The Nitro Joint w / "Chicago Jon" Hoffman

To live in the Midwest and say "I saw Aggie Hendricks drive her jet car" is like living in the Chicago Metro-area and getting to say "I saw STYX!" Yeah, we ALL saw Styx, and we all had the pleasure of seeing Aggie and the ODYSSEYS jet car. I grew up at Broadway Bob’s (ultimately worked there as well) and, um...have seen my share of jet cars. Guess what, Sparky? Not all of them put on a good show, but if Aggie was on hand, you were in for a good show, a beautiful car that looked fast just SITTING there, and more often than not, it was the fastest car in its given class that day.

I first heard of Della Woods when, in the early '70s, much publicity was being steered towards a gal from New York who bought Connie Kalitta’s old funny car. (And trust me, we'll get THERE in a minute.) Several mags of the time were quick to mention that Della, and of course Paula Murphy, already had considerable seat time in the flopper category. What drew me to Della was an early 'hero card' of hers, which I was convinced was shot in the staging lanes at Great Lakes Dragaway. Not her home track, but the sort of 'deal-breaker' that makes sense to a little teenage dork. Ironically, when I finally got to SEE Della, upon her return to funny cars in 1983, the giveaways/hero cards they had in their pits was that exact same shot! (Sort of cute, it is actually a postcard, in keeping with the era that the '70 Challenger 'Funny Honey' ran in.)


Speaking of Paula Murphy, much like my scientific 'teenage barometer of loyalty' that I used on Della, I remember liking her from the first image I saw of one of her cars, that being the Duster she had, which was featured in that series of bubble-gum cards from the early '70s, her photo was from...two, three, four...Great Lakes Dragaway!


We, that being "Eight Miles" (my brother) and my father saw her at the Rockford Dragway Manufacturers Funny Car Race in 1972. (Dad’s first drag race, where he made the comment of, "[Almighty] DAMMIT! You didn't tell me these things were so LOUD!") I followed her since, plus, the star-power of being associated with STP didn't hurt. I was truly bummed when she crashed that rocket-deal, that was at Sears Point, right? (As if I have Tony Reali sitting across the room to fact-check me!) Yeah, Paula was all right in my book.


Leah first popped up on my radar when she was shoeing the Plueger & Gyger Mustang re-pop. I always thought that car was awesome, and so, anyone involved in bringing it BACK had to be awesome as well. (I'm just a tower of logic, right?) Fast forward to her getting a full-time ride from Bob Vandergriff, with a marque sponsor, and things are looking 'pretty good'. They looked even BETTER with a win in Phoenix, and it seemed like THE WORLD IS YOURS. If you're like me, and have seen SCARFACE a million times, you know that is what’s on the statue in the lobby of Tony Montana’s mansion, when the Colombians blow him to pieces. THAT is when my appreciation of Leah really kicked in, because like the title of Black Sabbath’s eighth album, she became NEVER SAY DIE, and clawed and scraped her way from one mini-deal and CAR to the next, keeping her season alive. (I awarded her an OLIAS for this persistence.) She was all alone, washing parts when I asked her for an autograph at Joliet last year, and was the nicest person ever. (Fast-forward to being with DSR, and a GIANT pizza sponsorship, she's probably still nice, but GOOD LUCK getting a chance to talk to her all by herself now, lol)

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

'She won't dish the dirt with the rest of the broads...

 That's why the lady is a tramp.'

                                                                                          -- FRANK SINATRA, from 'My Pal Joey', 1957

As reported first on this very website, my favorite Funny Car driver of the female persuasion is looking to hang up her driving gloves. I'd be lying if I were to say, "Dude, I've been rooting for her since the BEGINNING of her career!" but I have been in Alexis DeJoria’s corner for a while, and it bums me out to know I'll have one less racer to pull for on race day. So, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, (and kudos to the work, and free screenings that Team DeJoria has provided at the fall Vegas race every year) this month The Nitro Joint will look at 'the rest of those broads' that I have rooted for through the years.


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