Episode 73 with Don Alexander: Trainer, Racer, Journalist

Sometimes you meet people in the industry and “think” you know their story. This one surprised me. Fifty years of hotrods, over 20 published books, training at the highest levels, and all this before off-road became what we knew him for.  Don Alexander has a storied past, listen in and enjoy.

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3:34 – go carts at age 11l

5:52 – always pushing the RPM limits

13:57 – professor changed my trajectory – not in the way you’d think

28:36 – connecting off-road guys through our industry

34:47 – it’s all about the wheel spin

39:03 – “had the aerodynamics o a Walmart store”

46:20 – I made some good maps

51:48 – that sums up the three mile an hour adrenaline rush

55:00 – let’s talk roof top tents

1:11:28 – the problem is convincing people they need to be trained

1:34:17 – you’re an off-roader, right?

 

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine

TRANSCRIPT

[00:01:19.930] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s conversation with Big Rich. We have Don Alexander. Don Alexander has a long history in off road. We’re going to talk all about that. We’re also going to talk about his SAE publications, the Car Tech Performance modifications of the YJ-JK and JL, which will be out in October this year. So Don, thank you very much for coming on board. And I know we’re going to have a good conversation about your long history and off road.

[00:01:56.560] – Don Alexander

Well, thank you, Rich. It’s a pleasure to be with you and speak with you and looking forward to it. And I have a long history, part of its off road, part of it. I actually started racing go carts when I was a kid and had a 50 year plus racing career before I really got into offroading.

[00:02:16.020]

Okay.

[00:02:16.560] – Big Rich Klein

Well, great. Let’s talk all about that. In fact, let’s get started at the very beginning. Were you born and raised?

[00:02:23.540] – Don Alexander

Is that Southern California? I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley that was Mecca for hot rodding, fifties and Sixties. So I was I got caught up as a kid and that whole thing, in addition to sports, I was a decent baseball player. But there was a local TV show probably in the mid late fifties called Jalopy Derby. And it was at the old Ascot dirt track. And they were old 30s and 40s, basically hot rods that raced on a dirt track. And it was televised, like on Friday nights.

[00:03:03.580] – Don Alexander

And that is really what kind of got me hooked on the whole thing. Plus, growing up in the hot Rod culture of Southern California and things kind of progress from there.

[00:03:12.180] – Big Rich Klein

So you said 50 years of racing? Yes. And you grew up in San Gabriel Valley. So you raced in Southern California primarily, I would say. And then. So let’s talk about those early years, maybe even before the racing, unless it started really young.

[00:03:34.440] – Don Alexander

Well, I was 11 young. I started racing go carts. I grew up about 3 miles from actually a couple of iconic facilities, the old San Gabriel Valley drag strip. I could walk to that track as a kid from my home. And a couple of miles further away was where a guy named Duffy Livingston created the go cart, the original one. And he had a factory and a little race track in Irwindale, if you’re familiar with the area. It was right across the street from the Miller Brewing Company is now right off the 210 Freeway.

[00:04:12.440] – Don Alexander

Where the Miller Brewing Company was was where the old Irwindale Drag strip was, which was built when I was in high school. And that’s where I started drag racing. I started racing go carts at the go cart track when I was eleven years old. And I did that for a while. When I was old enough to start drag racing, I would bracket race at by the San Gabriel was closed. But Irwindale opened, I think in 1965. I was there for, I don’t know, maybe eight or ten years, pretty much.

[00:04:43.260] – Don Alexander

Every Saturday night, I’d be there bracket racing, or at least watching. That was my neighborhood. That’s where I grew up and started racing career doing that.

[00:04:54.960] – Big Rich Klein

It’s great that you were so close to all that action. I’m sure that really helped spike your interest.

[00:05:03.530] – Don Alexander

Yeah. And Southern California at the time, we had, like, six drag strips within an hour of where I grew up. So you could go to different tracks with no problem. That was Lions in Long Beach, San Fernando, Fontana Pomona at the Pomona Fair grounds, which is still in operation. So that really led me down the path of racing. And then I did that through high school and early in College. And then when I was in College watching TV, watching the Indy 500. Back in the day, we will go to a theater to watch the Indy 500.  READ MORE

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