BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Blake Alexander racing his Gates/Auto Service Plus Nitro Funny Car at Bristol this weekend is the crescendo of a childhood dream. This is where it all started in Junior Dragster for Blake and when he straps in to the 8000 horsepower Paul Smith racing Monte Carlo, his dream of becoming a professional NHRA Funny Car driver at Bristol will be fulfilled.
It started early in life for Blake, the desire to be a race driver. When he was a toddler, Blake would pretend he was sponsored by companies like Valvoline (which he is now). Playing with his Hot Wheels funny cars of John Force, Chuck Etchells, and Al Hoffman, the dream was far out. The dream persisted and Blake saved his chore, birthday, and Christmas money from age 4 to get his first ride in a Junior Dragster at 11.
Blake won his first event at age 12 amongst 400 other competitors at the Mike Bos Nationals held at Bristol. Blake’s solid 9.50 ET’s in the 1/8th mile brought home the trophy. Mike Bos and his son’s Mike Jr and Jimmy would become instrumental in Blake’s progression after building his next car.
With the NHRA’s Junior Drag Racing League entering its 20th anniversary, Blake looks back upon his time in the class that was one of the building blocks of his early career.
“I was lucky to be one of the kids who got the opportunity to learn the basics of drag racing before getting into a big car. You learn by making mistakes in a racecar, just like anything in life. I learned how to stage, cut a light, drive the top end, and how to conduct myself in a sportsmanlike manner on and off the track. I still consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity that I worked for, along with the support of my family,” Blake said.
This weekend will mark Blake’s return to the place where the dream began, to one day be blasting through Thunder Valley in a nitro-breathing Funny Car. The reality still hasn’t set in that he is living that dream.
“From the time that I started racing at age 11 until I was probably around 22, I didn’t think that I would be doing this at 23. I’m really enjoying living out the dream, but at the same time, I’m probably not going to recognize what’s happening until I look back at it at the end of the season,” said the Virginia resident.
When the Gates/Auto Service Plus Funny Car propels Blake down the track at Thunder Valley, you can’t help but think about other kids playing with toy cars dreaming of becoming a Funny Car Driver and that the little kid in the Valvoline hat with a big dream has come full circle!