Women in Wheels: Hailie Deegan, NASCAR’s 16-year-old future star

Video Details

Kaitlyn Vincie sits down with Hailie Deegan as part of Race Hub's Women in Wheels series.

[MUSIC PLAYING] HAILIE DEEGAN: My name is Hailie Deegan. I'm 16 years old, and my life is all about racing. Racing's been in my family so much. The earliest memory of racing is watching my Dad going to X Games, me going to the race track for the first time when I was eight years old, to his off-road race, and just falling in love with these race cars. On my eighth birthday, they ended up getting me one. And ever since then, it's just been like the one thing I've desired most in life.

KAITLYN VINCIE: The first time you were driving them, you were like, I love this. This is my thing.

- Uh-huh. It wasn't like, oh, I kind of like it. It's like, no, I want to do this. This is-- at eight years old.

KAITLYN VINCIE: And your dad-- tell us a little bit about the success that he's had. Because he has raced all different types of vehicles and been really successful.

HAILIE DEEGAN: Just seeing how he's gone from this guy who started out racing motocross, all through the amateur ranks, like my little brother Hayden is right now. And made his transfer into supercross, winning supercross races. And then making the transfer into rally cars, off-road trucks. And now, it's like we've hit every single branch in the racing circuit. And it's crazy to see all of us do that.

KAITLYN VINCIE: What kind of role has he played in your career?

- I call my dad for everything. Pretty much all our racing-- he's involved in all of my racing. There's not one part of my racing-- like, we go to the gym together, we train together, we practice together. We go to the go-kart track together and practice. He's the reason why I've had success in racing, because he's always pushed me past my limits to make me that much better.

KAITLYN VINCIE: What was his reaction when you won the championship in the off-road?

- It was just crazy because no other girl has done it before. And there was kids older than me racing, and I was the only girl able to run up front. And being the person to beat in that class, it's just-- there's nothing else I can compare to it.

KAITLYN VINCIE: And now you're in NASCAR.

- Uh-huh.

KAITLYN VINCIE: Joining the NASCAR side. How's that been for you, getting adjusted to stock car racing?

HAILIE DEEGAN: Coming from off-road racing, the transition, and the base it's given me to drive a stock car, has been incredible. Because I'm able to drive these loose cars.

I'm able to [INAUDIBLE] situation. I'm always able to look ahead. Because in off-road racing, there's a lot going on. You have this, like, mental game in your head, and strategies that you learn growing up that you can't really learn right at the age of starting.

KAITLYN VINCIE: What do you do when you're not racing?

HAILIE DEEGAN: My whole life revolves around racing. I don't like going out and doing, like, boring stuff. Like, I don't like going and, like, sitting at the movies. I'd rather be driving my car. Like, I'll go do that if, say, all my cars are broken and I have nothing else to do, yes.

But I want to go practice. I like going to the gym. Like, that's where I have fun is at the gym. That's what I like to do. Like, I don't like doing anything else. It's my life.

KAITLYN VINCIE: Right. You mentioned the gym, which is where we are right now. What's your kind of training routine like?

HAILIE DEEGAN: Stock car racing, it's totally different from off-road racing. Off-road racing is quick, 15 to 30-minute races. You go into stock racing, you're in the car for, like, three hours.

And so I do a lot of, like, running, the row machines, jump roping, things to keep your endurance up. Because I feel like, in those three, four-hour races, it gets tiring. All these people have to make it that long. Like, that's just the base of it, is making it that long. And then it's performing on top of it.

KAITLYN VINCIE: We've seen, over the years, how important physical fitness is for drivers. Jimmie Johnson kind of leading that brigade. Did you take note of that?

HAILIE DEEGAN: Yes, I have. Everyone's good at driving in NASCAR, and all 30 of them are amazing-- 40 of them-- are amazing at driving. Now it's what makes that person that much better? And I think there's this aspect that-- especially Jimmie Johnson has seen. You see him always training. He's made this movement, and the reason why he's so good is because he takes advantage of every opportunity inside he has to make sure he's at 110% of what he's doing.

KAITLYN VINCIE: And Kevin Harvick, he's another Cup Series champion who was very complimentary of you after Kern County.

KEVIN HARVICK: If I had to pick one person to say, all right, that's the person my KHI would want to represent and, you know, think has the most potential, it would probably Hailie Deegan. I got to race with her for a little better there at the end of the race, and she did a great job in the car. You know, I think, as far as potential and reach and racing knowledge, and getting in the car as young as she is, that's the one we want to be a part of.

- It was crazy. I would've never expected it. I came out of the car after that race, and I was pretty excited because it was my first race out there. There was over, like, 25 cars. I ended up finishing seventh. It was just a real success hearing those words from him, and it's a real confidence booster, feeling like now I'm able to take the next step. It's kind of kept the ball rolling in my career.

KAITLYN VINCIE: I love her, Hailie Deegan. This is a two-part series.