LAS VEGAS — Meet Hailie Deegan. She was born on July 18, 2001 in Temecula, Calif. She started riding dirt bikes at the young age of seven and a year later began competing in the off-road series.
Racing runs in the family. Her father, Brian Deegan, is most decorated Freestyle Motocross rider in X Games history. He was the first ever to do a 360 in competition.
Many are calling Hailie Deegan a rising star after Danica Patrick broke the glass ceiling for female race car drivers. In 2016, she made the transition to stock car racing via the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Now, the 17-year-old has obtained sponsorship deals from big name companies such as Mobil 1 Oil, NAPA Auto Parts, Monster Energy drinks and Under Armour athletic clothing. Currently, she drives the No. 19 Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing.
I caught up with Deegan for an exclusive interview during her appearance at the Mickey Thompson booth at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
“Mickey Thompson is one of my main partners for off-road racing,” she said. “I’m out here signing some posters and working out some deals. A lot of people have come by talking about my NASCAR racing so it’s cool.”
Quite the madness here at SEMA. How’s your day been going so far?
“It’s been good, I’ve been coming here since I was 12 years old. A lot of same stuff that I experience every year–just on a different level.”
She is one of the only female race car drivers competing right now. I asked how she compares herself to Danica Patrick?
“Yeah, right now there’s not many girls in racing. Danica was coming out of NASCAR racing as I was coming in. I haven’t really talked to her much because we didn’t really cross paths. I came from a different background. I came from off-road racing. We are totally different people with totally different personalities.”
This summer at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race in Las Vegas, Deegan won the pole and started from the front of the pack.
“I ended up jamming a gear and fell back a little bit and drove up back to second. I ended up winning the next race so it was good.”
What are your goals for next season? Is there anything you’d like to do differently?
“Next season, if we come back to the K&N Series, I’d like to go for a championship.”
Are you looking to move up to the NASCAR Xfinity series and then one day the Monster Energy Cup Series?
“Yeah, that’s the plan.”
Do you have a favorite track that you’ve raced at so far?
“I like Iowa [Speedway]. It’s just a fun, big track.”
What advice do you have for girls who want to follow in your footsteps and become a race car driver?
“I’d say be aggressive driving. In the end, it comes down to the person using their bumper more than the other people to move in front for the win. That’s what it comes down to in all races.”
Look for Hailie Deegan to race at a NASCAR track near you. She’s got a bright career ahead of her. If you get the chance to say hi, do it!