Gender has never been a factor when it comes to Hailie’s racing, competitiveness, or success. Even growing up, gender was never a point of conversation on the racetrack. “It’s honestly really crazy because back when I raced off-road trucks, I was the only girl consistently doing these things. I won a bunch of races and championships. It felt normal because I felt like everyone else, I didn't see it as a big deal. I was going out there and just racing, I was there to win. I wasn't there to be the best girl because there weren’t any other girls doing it. That’s what I grew up around. My dad didn't treat me differently because I was a girl when I was on the racetrack. If I was second in practice he would say: ‘Why are you second? Okay, let's figure out what we did wrong, and let's go do better next time.’”
As a Woman of Speed, Hailie is making a major mark on the world with her strong voice and insane talent. She expects to be treated as she should: a NASCAR driver. She’s the second woman in history to win a NASCAR touring race. There’s no doubt she’s beating the odds, but that’s not enough for her. She’s striving to be her best, outside of gender, because that’s what she wants. And it’s not over yet. Hailie is just getting started: “I'm out there trying to develop and be the best driver I could possibly be, not just be the best girl, obviously. I want to be an inspiration for other girls to get into racing. But, I don't try to set a standard differently because I am a girl.” Her drive to be exceptional, to finish what she mentally has envisioned, is an internal motivator that everyone needs to have.
Hailie speaks of her challenges causally. For some, the idea of racing in an entirely new series, with a new crew chief, in a new truck, with minimal practice, would hinder them from success. But not Hailie. She used this season to examine the ins & outs of truck racing, as well as what to expect next season. “Moving to the truck series got a lot more difficult. In the truck series, there's a solid 18 competitive people. You’re racing hard from 13th to 18th, like really, really hard. So that was a big transition for me this year, especially with the major factors like not having practice or qualifying except for two out of the 23 races. Trucks handle a lot differently than any of the other cars in NASCAR racing, so that was something for me totally to learn fresh. I was going to all these tracks that were a lot bigger. I'd say about three-fourths of the tracks throughout the year, I haven't even been to before, probably even more than that. Going to these new tracks with no practice, taking the green flag your first lap, as someone who's driving these trucks for the first time, you’re trying to figure out how these trucks handle and trying to figure out what to change on them. Having a crew chief learn at the same time what you like in the truck. It's tough.”
Hailie’s possibilities are limitless. Against all odds, she placed 17th in her rookie year of the NASCAR Camping Truck Series (2021). Hailie takes no shit and leaves it all on the track. “My goal for next year going into it is to be consistently one in the top 10. Just be there and be in that pack and consistently get good finishes and show people that I can be competitive with those front guys.” Now that she knows what those tracks look and feel like, watch out. “I'm really excited about next year because during the off-season I really want to buckle down. I know I have a good mindset going into next year of what I'm getting myself into. We're going to have practice back. We're going to have qualifying. I have the same crew chief as I had last year. He's figured me out a lot better, and I figured out his style a lot better and how to communicate with him. There's a new 2022 Ford truck that we’re going to be racing. So, there's just a lot of good things happening.”
We need to take a page out of Hailie Deegan’s book. She’s ready for action and not stopping anytime soon. The truck series is just a step toward her goal: “Being in the NASCAR Cup Series for sure is a huge goal of mine. Just being there would be a huge accomplishment. To go out there and be competitive, that's my life purpose.”
How did this life purpose come to be? The Deegan family is well known in the motorsports world. Her father, Brain Deegan is a professional freestyle motocross rider and racing driver, and her two younger brothers, Haiden and Hudson, are making their mark in the motocross world as well. Hailie gave us a flashback to when her excitement for the sport started: “I was about to turn eight. I remember going to my dad's off-road truck races, and these little kids are racing in these mini off-road trucks. They look pretty much like my dad's truck, but just a smaller size. I remember going back to my parents after my dad's first race and just begging for an off-road truck.” As the firstborn child, Hailie knew what to do. After endlessly asking for a truck, her eighth birthday finally came around. “I still have the picture of me with my pigtails next to the truck at eight years old. Ever since that moment, I fell in love with it and never stopped.” From getting her first car at 8, to seriously competing at 12, and graduating high school at 16 to solely focus on racing, Hailie knows she has much more to conquer.
What fuels her drive to conquer these goals? “Ultra’s. The whole Ultra line. I think my favorite one is Ultra Paradise and after that, Ultra Gold. I have at least 20 cases at our shop, and everyone there drinks Ultra every single day.”
As Hailie continues to grow and dominate the racing industry, her voice is one to follow. Before you start Googling to learn more about her, make sure to check the source. Due to the media circus & the tendency to spin any quote into a web of drama and excitement, Hailie tends to stay away from the press. “Honestly, I stay away from articles just for that sole purpose. I did my whole truck series release through my social media. Most NASCAR drivers have a PR person running their Instagram, but we do all our social media. Everything is organic, and it's definitely different from what most NASCAR drivers do.”
Instead, she runs her own social media platforms to utilize her voice without manipulation. “I feel like social media has given me a platform and a voice to tell my story my way without people twisting my words.” She even creates vlogs to show what her life is like behind the scenes, and give her audience the real story. “We do a lot of YouTube videos, about three videos a week, they cover the true journey of my racing life and what happens day to day.” Hailie uses her platform to speak her mind and be transparent.
Hailie is setting the standard for the racing industry by ignoring stereotypes and gender norms. Bottom line, Hailie’s out here doing what she loves. And she’s fucking good at it. After speaking with Hailie, her passion and love for the sport will light a fire in your soul. She is strong and without a doubt is a person who will go down in history not as just a woman, but as a Monster Legend who consistently kicked ass and took names.
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