SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 38, September 20, 2012

NHRA Nitro Funny Car Driver Alexis DeJoria Builds Baja-Ready Toyota Tundra Prerunner

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For the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge, the NHRA's Alexis DeJoria is taking a stock Toyota Tundra full-size pickup and turning it into a fully race-ready desert racer she’s christened the “Tundra Prerunner.” The truck will debut October 30, at the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. A win by DeJoria will benefit Safety Harbor Kids.

Alexis DeJoria—one of only two women ever to win an NHRA Alcohol Funny Car race—is now the only woman in a different kind of competitive event—the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge. DeJoria—one of four famous drivers aiming to win the vehicle-modification build competition—is taking a stock Toyota Tundra full-size pickup and turning it into a fully race-ready desert racer she’s christened the “Tundra Prerunner.”

Fans will determine by online voting which of the four modified Toyota vehicles will win the challenge, along with $50,000 to the winning driver’s charity of choice.

“We’re going to take a stock truck and make it cooler in every way,” said project lead Andy Peterson of Racer Engineering in San Jacinto, California, where the Tundra is being transformed under DeJoria’s supervision. “We’re going to make it go faster, bigger, louder.”

Racer Engineering is fabricating long A-arms, trailing arms and shocks to achieve 20 in. of wheel travel in front and 24 in. in the rear—enough to tackle virtually any navigable stretch of desert race territory.

DeJoria’s Tundra Prerunner will make its public debut—along with its rivals in the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge—October 30, in the Toyota display at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

“I think this is going to be the baddest vehicle at SEMA,” said DeJoria, who drives the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports. Patrón Spirits Co. is owned by DeJoria’s father, John Paul DeJoria, who co-founded the John Paul Mitchell Systems line of professional hair-care products.

DeJoria drag raced successfully in the NHRA Super Gas, Super Comp and Top Alcohol Funny Car series before joining the Toyota team in late 2011. And her project Tundra “is going to be fully caged front to rear, with big tires and wheels—we’re trying to make a statement,” according to Dale Dondel, owner of Racer Engineering.

Meanwhile, DeJoria’s competitors are trying to make statements of their own—NASCAR drivers Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch, with their “Tekked-Out” Prius and “Rowdy”-edition Camry, respectively, along with the NHRA Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown and his built-for-speed Sequoia.

Each is competing for the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge title and a $50,000 check from Toyota to the driver’s chosen charity. A win by DeJoria will benefit Safety Harbor Kids, whose purpose is to enrich the lives of orphans, foster and homeless children through education.

A 28-episode online reality series has been developed around the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge. Fans can see the progress DeJoria’s team has made in Episode 4. New episodes are uploaded regularly at www.ToyotaRacingDreamBuild.com.

Voting will open October 20 and will continue through October 29. Fans will be able to vote once per day on Facebook, where they can also enter to win prizes, including a Toyota Racing “Dream Trip,” which will be given away to one lucky fan.

The final vehicle builds will be unveiled during a press conference in the Toyota display at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, October 30. Fans will be able to tune in live to watch the entire press conference and see the winner announced in real-time.

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