Two weeks ago, Simon Pagenaud won the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Flash forward to today, and he has a major chance to win on the same track for his first Indy 500 title.
The 35-year old Frenchman has yet to take home the Borg-Warner Trophy in his career, but he is close to being the odds-on favorite for 2019. He stands alongside Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden at 8-to-1 odds, just behind Will Powers at 7-to-1 per CBS Sports.
One person sure to be loudly pushing him to victory lane will be his fiancee Hailey McDermott. Let’s take a quick look at who she is and how they met.
Simon Pagenaud & Hailey McDermott Dating History
McDermott hails from San Diego, and happened to run across Pagenaud in 2016 at a trade-show booth at the Indianapolis Convention Center for her father’s surround-sound speaker business. According to IndyCar, a mutual acquaintance named Jim introduced her to Pagenaud.
“Simon and I sat there and talked to each other for four hours,” Hailey recalls.
The next day, Simon…texted Hailey to ask her out for coffee.
“I told him no,” she says. “I was still a little hesitant. I was in a town I didn’t really know. And I was there working, that was the biggest thing. So I was very cautious.”
But Simon, too, was extremely persistent. Eventually, he prevailed. He persuaded Hailey to go to dinner with him, but she made a backup plan in case the date was a disaster.
“Every year they have a big party after this trade show, so I was like, ‘OK, we can go to dinner. But I have to go to this party afterward.’”
As it happened, Hailey missed the party. Dinner (they ate sushi) went “very, very well.” Simon “was very genuine. Very genuine, very caring and very humble. That was probably my first impression: how humble he was. He was very proper and sweet and kind. He was respectful. You could just tell he was a good man.”
After another meetup at Sonoma Raceway soon after, they two were hooked to each other. She quit her job and moved to Indianapolis to be with him. By early 2018, the two were engaged. He announced it on Twitter in a picture of them on muddy ATV’s.
Since then, McDermott has made the news for her stance on abortion rights. Two weeks ago, she dressed alongside Ashley Welch, Newgarden’s fiancee, in shirts that read “Not YOUR Body, Not YOUR Choice.”
The shirts were a protest of the recent abortion restrictions in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Utah.
“I feel like I conquered something today,” McDermott said to IndyStar. “I am pretty quiet, but today I wasn’t.
“I understand it is uncomfortable for us to speak our mind, especially about this right now, in the political climate we are in, that is not what we are trying to fight,” said McDermott. “But let’s make the people who have done this to us uncomfortable.”
In case you’re wondering how Pagenaud felt about politics entering the race track, he beamed for a picture alongside his future wife as she donned the shirt.