Blake Alexander is one of the rising young stars of drag racing. Here’s an excerpt from Sheena Baker’s profile of the Funny Car driver that was published in the December issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Most college-age students wait until after they’ve graduated to put their degrees to use, utilizing their university years for socializing, partying and self-discovery before testing the waters and trying to find their niche in the “real world.”
But those stereotypes haven’t applied to Blake Alexander, who has been charging ahead full force, forging his own path on his own terms. A year after earning a degree in public relations and marketing, Alexander is working toward securing the funding for a full-time Funny Car ride in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Alexander’s pursuit of his motorsports dreams began at age 5 when the Smith Mountain Lake, Va., native began saving birthday and Christmas money toward a junior dragster. Later he added money from mowing lawns to the pot and by age 11 Alexander had saved more than $1,200. It wasn’t long until he was following in the tire tracks of his father, Willi, and grandfather, Ray, and speeding down a drag strip.
But what began as a hobby soon became much more than what his family had anticipated.
“I had success racing junior dragsters, but I put all my time into other sports,” Alexander explained. “Then I’d show up to the race track on the weekends and, not thinking of it, I’d win races. So I thought I should probably stick with racing. I could put a lot of time into those other sports and not see any returns.”
With his focus strictly on drag racing, Alexander progressed from the junior dragster ranks to more powerful classes — classes that required additional funding.
“I knew someone at Gates Automotive and he’d tell me, ‘I’m going to sponsor you one day,’” Alexander said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I should ask him if he wants to sponsor me.’”
So at age 16, Alexander signed his first official sponsor — one that continues to support him. The sponsorship from Gates Corp. helped Alexander progress to Competition Eliminator and Super Comp and later to outlaw Pro Mod and Top Alcohol Dragster.
Alexander’s progression continued even after he enrolled at Radford (Va.) University. It was a balancing act for Alexander, who had to negotiate both his studies and racing.
“It was extremely challenging at times; at other times, it was obviously cool,” Alexander said. “I was driving an alcohol dragster on the West Coast, taking red-eyes back to the East Coast and barely making it to class in the morning while being quiet tired. Then I’d have to catch up on my work and catch up on my sleep and catch up on the friendships and relationships I was trying to maintain. It was kind of difficult.”