Following a two-year hiatus from drag racing, Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria will return to the sport full-time in 2020.
DeJoria last competed in the 2017 season before announcing she was retiring from the sport to spend more time with her family — although she did leave open the possibility of returning one day. Now it’s apparently the right time for her return.
“I honestly knew deep down when I made the announcement to retire at the end of the 2017 NHRA season that it was going to be sort of an open-ended retirement,” DeJoria said in a media release. “I’m beyond excited to get back out there. I’ve been blessed spending time with my family these past two years off. This was a decision I made with their support, and we are all looking forward to my return to the driver’s seat.”
DeJoria’s first race will be the 2020 season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. While a primary sponsor for her Funny Car will be revealed in the near future, DeJoria did announce that Nicky Bonifante and former world championship driver Del Worsham will serve as co-crew chiefs for her return to the sport.
While DeJoria, Bonifante and Worsham have a long history with Kalitta Motorsports, DeJoria’s new operation will be an independent team, according to the release. It was Worsham’s car that DeJoria first obtained her Funny Car license in 2010, and Worsham then became her crew chief during her rookie season before he returned to driving and won the 2015 Funny Car championship before departing to re-start his family-based team. Worsham returned to Kalitta Motorsports this season.
Bonifante, meanwhile, worked on DeJoria’s car for several years during her tenure at Kalitta Motorsports, eventually being promoted to chief tuner for the 2017 season.
Bonifante and Worsham are currently co-crew chiefs for Shawn Langdon’s Funny Car at Kalitta Motorsports, but are expected to leave those roles upon the conclusion of the current season to join DeJoria’s operation.
“I now have this incredible opportunity to build a team with two of the people who were by my side when I started my nitro Funny Car career,” said DeJoria, whose ultimate goal is to become the first female Funny Car world champion. “Del is my mentor and the person whose car I licensed with in the first place, and Nicky was one of the first people at Kalitta who I talked to when I made the transition from Top Alcohol Funny Car to nitro Funny Car.
“Del and Nicky, they’re the ‘dream team’ for me, and I’m eager to embark on this new adventure with them.”
A resident of Austin, Texas, DeJoria has earned five NHRA national events, including the prestigious 2014 U.S. Nationals, before stepping away from her 11,000 horsepower Funny Car.
Fellow Funny Car competitor Tommy Johnson Jr. was among several individuals who treated their support for DeJoria’s return:
Best news in the past couple years! We've all missed Alexis DeJoria. Just wasn't the same without her at the strip. https://t.co/aXbpWsVlZY
— tommy johnson sr. (@tjsr5757) October 9, 2019