How Booneville's Alex Taylor prepares for the 'Hellcat Grudge Match'
Alex Taylor has four weeks to prepare for her grudge match.
The Booneville resident, online automotive builder, and drag racer is preparing for the Hellcat Grudge Match in Pontiac, Michigan, on Aug. 14.
Taylor will be racing against three other popular online automotive builders for a shot against Eric Malone, the host of MotorTrend's series "Fastest Cars of the Dirty South," for Roadkill Nights. The races, held on a stretch of Woodard Avenue, will be streamed live, and a two-episode of the race will later appear on the MotorTrend website.
Each builder is given either a Dodge Challenger or Charger SRT Hellcat and $10,000 to build their car. The other three competitors are Tavarish (Freddy Hernandez), Westen Champlin, and Throtl's Evan Beckerman.
"While everyone has an online presence, everything is pretty top secret right now," Taylor said. "Drag racing is about having an edge, and racing on the street is much different than on a track. I know we're very deep working on the car to get it ready, so it means we're not sleeping a lot. Just about every part of the car is going to get some modification. We're going to working on this car as it's rolling out of the shop and when we get to race. It's going to come down to the wire."
Taylor has been competing since she was 16 when her dad, Dennis Taylor, helped her build a Camero to drive and race, which she dubbed "Badmero." She drove that car to school and was the youngest competitor, at age 16 in 2013, when she participated in Hot Rod Magazine's Drag Week.
When Taylor graduated from Booneville in 2016 and four years later from UA-Fort Smith, she didn't think her career would be making videos about building cars and racing. She has over 133,000 followers on Instagram and 78,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel. The social media aspects of drag racing have provided Taylor with opportunities, including the August race.
"When I first got into racing, I didn't think it was going to be a career for myself, but the opportunity comes from the social media side and putting out content," Taylor said. "My dad is really smart and talented at building cars. He's doing the same stuff he did 20 years ago. I'm getting to do the same things and share what he's doing, and that has opened some doors for me."
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Taylor has four major week-long events this year, which are usually in addition to smaller competitions.
She and her father recently completed a 1XX Proof street-legal tube chassis '55 Chevy to compete during the 2021 season. With the new car, she's hoping to upgrade her NHRA Competition License to be seen as a serious competitor.
"Getting licensed to the next level will be a great opportunity for me. I'm excited about it," Taylor said. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity to have a great teacher like my dad. I love the people in the drag racing industry and learning about new things. I didn't seek out to make it a career, but the passion was always there, and the opportunity to make building cars and racing just came, so I took it."