Just graduated from high school, Hailie Deegan now focuses on a career in NASCAR
Hailie Deegan was resigned to the notion that she would not have a high school graduation ceremony. Being homeschooled was a sacrifice made so she could devote the time necessary to develop a career as a professional race car driver.
So last week while many of her friends attended their graduation at Rancho Christian High School in her hometown of Temecula, California, Deegan, a rookie on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, was focused on qualifying for the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway.
The folks at Sonoma, however, had a surprise. During driver introductions, Deegan, was handed a cap and gown to wear over her racing fire suit and then presented with her diploma. “I really had no clue,” said Deegan, who started in the third position. “It was pretty cool.”
In addition to being a graduate, Deegan recently was one of nine drivers named to 2018 NASCAR Next class, which identifies prospects with the potential to make it on the racing circuit.
She is a member of the Bill McAnally Racing team and the only full-time female driver in the K&N Pro West Series. This is all before she turns 17 in July.
“Graduating high school is a game-changer as far as my career,” said Deegan, who in 2013 became the first female to win a championship in the Off-Road Racing Series, taking the Junior 2 title. “Right now, I had been pretty limited to staying on the West Coast because of trying to get all of my work done for high school.”
Deegan had been balancing high school with going to the local go-kart track on Tuesdays and driving at Irwindale Speedway on Wednesdays. Weekends were spent racing late-model cars at tracks around Southern California.
That had been her routine since she started competing in off-road races when she was 8.
“More than anything, graduating from school is a stress releaser,” Deegan said. “I can focus mentally completely on my career. Now, I can really spend all the time that I want on the track. If you are going to be good at something, you really have to put in the time to work at it.”