Editor’s Note: Second-generation racer Hailie Deegan, 15, is making a name for herself racing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Here’s an excerpt from the October SPEED SPORT Magazine profile on Deegan.
When Hailie Deegan steps into her race car, she doesn’t think about the fact that she’s one of the only girls out there. The only thing she cares about is being the first to cross the finish line.
With as much time as she spends at the race track, that goal isn’t far out of reach.
“We’re at the track five days a week,” Deegan said. “Racing is just our family thing. All we do is race, we don’t play any other sports.”
If the name sounds even vaguely familiar, it’s not a surprise that all Deegan’s family does is race. Her father is motocross star Brian Deegan, a 14-time X Games medalist who now regularly competes in off-road and rallycross racing, and both of her younger brothers have already lived up to the Deegan name in the racing world, as well.
While her siblings decided to chase a career on two wheels, Hailie Deegan got into a race car. Most of her time thus far has been in off-road racing, competing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series alongside her father and breaking plenty of records while there — Deegan became the first female to finish on the podium in the Modified Kart class at just 13 years old and she did so with a victory. The podium became a familiar post-race destination for Deegan and it led to several championships within the series.
Deegan’s venture into racing started on her 8th birthday when she got an off-road trophy kart as a gift. She’d been eyeing one since her father’s debut in off-road racing when she saw the trophy-kart racing and was “so intrigued by it.”
Now 15 years old, Deegan’s main career goal is, oddly, off the beaten path for a girl who’s grown up with “Dirt Princess” as her nickname.
“Career-wise, I want to be able to make it to NASCAR,” said Deegan, who began racing asphalt Legend Cars for Rev Racing’s developmental program earlier this year. “(I want to) do the stock car stuff and while I’m racing in NASCAR, come back and race a little bit of off-road for fun.”
Deegan said the jump from off-road racing to asphalt competition has been a big one, but there’s one thing that didn’t change much — the fact that she stands out from most of the field.
“Off-road, there are very few girls who do it,” Deegan said. “Most of them are kind of just running at the back of the pack, but I’m actually there to win. Like, I come out and I’m the person to beat.
“It kind of shocks everybody. It’s different. It’s not normal just (being) another racer who’s good and a girl, which brings something different into racing.”