Hailie Deegan is an 18-year-old NASCAR prodigy who has been making headlines recently for posing for a picture with President Donald Trump at Daytona 500.
Although she didn’t race in the event, she was hosting a meet-and-greet with her fans when she posted on Twitter her goal of getting a helmet signed by Trump. Donald Trump, Jr. was at Daytona 500 and replied, asking her to DM him so he could set it up.
Later that day, Deegan met Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, posing for a photo that she posted to Twitter. Trump also signed her helmet.
Here’s what you need to know about Hailie Deegan:
1. She Is a Full-Time Driver in the ARCA Menards Series, Driving #4 Ford Fusion
Hailie Deegan signed with Ford Performance in December 2019 after racing with the Toyota development driver program. Ford announced that she would be competing in different 2020 series with the DGR-Crosley race team. She is scheduled to race all 20 races in the ARCA Menards Series and other select events.
In her statement posted to the Ford Performance site, Hailie said: “I could not be more excited to join Ford Performance and DGR-Crosley.” She added, “it is also extra special to get to race with Ford, a family company, that already had ties to my family. Growing up watching my dad race a Ford, and now to be able to do the same thing is very cool.” She finished her statement by saying “We are all committed to work as hard as it takes to finish on top. I look forward to the upcoming season and learning as much as possible to get me closer to accomplishing my goals of winning races.”
2. She Is the Daughter of Professional Motocross Rider Brian Deegan
Considering who Hailie’s father is, it may not be a surprise that she became a professional driver. Her father, Brian Deegan, is a legendary American professional freestyle motocross rider as well as a racing driver. Brian Deegan was the first rider to pull off a 360 in competition, and holds the record for being the most decorated Freestyle Motocross rider in X Games history.
Brian Deegan is also the only rider who has competed in one event minimum for every X Games, winning a total of 10 medals, three golds and seven bronzes.
A few weeks ago, he posted on Instagram a picture with his daughter Hailie, with the caption: “So blessed I get to spend so much time with my kids. Hardest part is missing things in [their] life. This year I wasn’t there for haidens bday, the day he broke his arm, Hudson’s student of the month day all important things to me but I was with HAILIE helping chase her dreams as the next few years we all know are crucial to get her in a position to be a massive influence in sports!”
3. She Started Her Career With NASCAR in 2018 After Transitioning From Off-Road Racing
Deegan started her riding life by following in her father’s footsteps and riding dirt bikes at 7 years old. At the age of 8, she competed in her first race, in off-road series. She became the first female to win a championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series in the 2013 Junior 2 Karts seasons. She was a Modified Kart Regional Champion in 2015 and the next year became the national champion.
She transitioned to asphalt racing in 2016 and became a NASCAR driver soon after. Her journey in racing and becoming a NASCAR driver is chronicled in this “Motorsports on NBC” video:
4. She Is the First and Only Female to Date to Win Races in K&N Pro Series
Before switching to Ford, Hailie won some key races and made records, becoming the first female to win a race in NASCAR’s West Series as well as winning Rookie of the Year in the same series in 2018, when she was just 16. In 2019, she got two more wins as well as a third-place finish.
After her record-breaking win in September 2018, she posted on Twitter: “I can’t thank everyone enough! [Toyota Racing, NAPA Racing and Bill McAnally Racing] for taking a chance on me and making this dream come true! We’ve had our ups and downs, but everyone who has stuck behind me, my crew chief [Kevin Reed] and all the crew guys, WE DID IT,” along with a trophy emoji.
5. She Lives in Both California and North Carolina and Graduated High School in California
Deegan was already racing professionally before she graduated from high school. Sonoma Raceway actually tweeted about her graduation, since she received her diploma just moments before hopping into her car to race.
Deegan was a student at Rancho Christian High School in Temecula, California, her hometown, but she has said in interviews that she was homeschooled in order to be able to balance schooling and her racing commitments. Since her graduation and signing with Ford Performance, she spends time in California as well as North Carolina.