Be happy. Go fast. Stay pretty.
Those six words make up drag racer Alex Taylor’s personal motto. She’s one of the few women competing in the motorsport world and one of the few taking on the drag racing circuit, where drivers compete to set the fastest time on a short, straight strip of pavement. But despite the fact that she’s only 24 years old, Alex has the benefit of experience on her side — which is the reason why she just won her biggest race yet.
“When I hear cars start, no matter what it is, it’s just like the smile fac”, the giggle factor,” Alex told us in a recent interview with A Girls Guide to Cars, a smile evident in her voice. “[Cars were] a part of my everyday life. Like, you have to eat and sleep, but everything between that was cars. That’s what we did as a family.”
With that kind of passion, it’s obvious that Alex was destined for success.
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Alex Taylor Grew up in the Garage
“My dad, as a profession, is a builder,” Alex told us. “And I was always in the shop, always super hands on. I was always the kid that was asking questions. And thankfully for me, I had a dad that was also very much a teacher.”
For Alex, working on cars was second nature, something that taught her some serious life skills along with the mechanical ones.
“Working on a car is so much more than just the mechanical skillset,” she said. “It’s patience. It’s dedication. You have to learn, you have to continue to build your skillset. You have to continue to have that passion and desire for knowledge. Being under the hood has taught me is that you have to first know what you don’t know in order to grow.”
Patience, dedication, and a desire to learn all helped Alex in her everyday life, because in order to work on cars and go racing, Alex’s parents required that she get good grades. She graduated high school with straight As, the top of her class. Then, she was valedictorian when recently graduating from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith with a BBA in marketing. All this while developing a career as a budding racer.
“I missed 50 days, I think, my senior year,” she admitted. “Thankfully my principal worked with me. After I graduated and went to college, they give you the syllabus was like, oh, you can miss two days. And I would just stay, that’s not going to work. Thankfully, my business teachers understood the opportunity. It was always like, well, if you can get your work done, do what you want.”
Her First Race as a Teenager
Alex’s skillset paid off immensely when she made her first drag race debut at the age of 16 during Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week in 2013. She and her father had rebuilt and perfected a a 1968 Camaro that Alex calls the “Badmaro,” and in addition to being her daily driver to and from high school, the Camaro was Alex’s first real drag racer. Her mom, Debbie, served as her co-pilot during her runs.
“My mom went on every race with me race week with me until this year,” Alex told us. “She didn’t come from a racing background — actually vey far from it. She grew up on a farm. But she met my dad, and my dad — that’s all he does. So she ran the business side for years, and over the course of that, she’s learned and grown. And once I started racing, she was my biggest fan every weekend.”
Thankfully, because she got started racing so young, Alex didn’t face some of the most invasive forms of sexism that can pervade the racing industry. Instead, she told me, people were mostly just surprised that such a young kid was getting out there racing — and they were excited to see the next generation maintain an interest in a hobby that’s been around since the dawn of the automotive age.
Winning Her Biggest Race Yet
On August 14, 2021, Alex took part in her biggest race yet: the MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge Hellcat Grudge Race. Basically, that meant Alex was going head-to-head with some of racing’s biggest figureheads: Tavarish (Freddy Hernandez), Westen Champlin, and Throtl’s Evan Beckerman. Each builder was given either a Dodge Challenger or Charger SRT Hellcat, plus $10,000 to build their car. Then, they’d all go head-to-head on the drag strip to determine the winner.
Alex opted for the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye, which she outfitted with slick racing tires that provide more grip and four-link suspension, which provides a really smooth and reliable ride. It paid off: Alex beat her three male competitors to take home the overall win at the end of the day during one of the most-watched MotorTrend racing events of the year.
Now, she’s working her way up to the next level of her competition license, which will allow her to compete professionally in faster, more powerful cars.
Alex’s Goals for the Future
Alex doesn’t dwell too much on the future or on the past; instead, she’s always living in the moment, waiting for her next big opportunity. She didn’t expect to become something of a YouTube personality, for example, but people have loved her videos, and she’s found value and enjoyment in the work.
“My ultimate goal,” Alex mused, “is to stay within the industry and to be able to inspire others to get into and excel within the industry.”
When I asked her what her advice would be for any young girl trying to break into the racing world, Alex’s answer was simple: “Don’t get nervous. Get started. Find something that might interest you, and just try it.”
She also reminds us that our first attempt at anything probably isn’t something we’re going to look back on thinking that it was the pinnacle of our career. Instead, that’s just our starting place. That’s the point where we began the learning process that will continue throughout our lives. And the sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll start making progress, and the sooner we’ll start winning our own big races.