In honor of National Women's Day, we had the opportunity to interview Taylor Hagler, driver of the number 77 Honda Civic Si with X Factor Racing in the TC America series.
Taylor had a great start to the season, taking third place at Circuit of the Americas this past weekend.
Look for more of Taylor's success throughout the TC America season as she charges ahead to Virginia International Raceway for race number two.
How did you get started in Motorsports? Has your interest always been in track? Have you participated in other forms of Motorsports "I was competing on horses for 10 years. During this period I competed in hunter jumper and show jumping. Over the course of my 10 years competing, I traveled across many states with my Mom. Additionally, while competing horses, I asked my father to allow me to run racing carts. At that time our finances would not allow me the opportunity to compete in both, so I stuck with the horses. My father has always been a car guy, and has owned many high performance cars. In the end, his passion has helped to feed my desire to race cars. I had planned to continue to compete horses, but my horse got injured. Once this happened and I stopped competing horses, I went back to Dad to ask about taking race courses with Skip Barber. I did 2 courses with Skip Barber, then we went out and made all the purchases to start racing at an amateur level."
How did you get involved in the TC America Series? "Over the short course of my racing (2018 season-9 race events), I utilized the services of X-Factor racing who specializes in Spec Miata. The owner realized after a short time that my natural talent would be fitting into his pending World Challenge effort. Late 2018, he invited us to participate with his team. As such, we purchased the cars to compete, established ourselves with World Challenge and began our racing season."
How would your races in Spec Miata compare to races in TC America? "Spec Miata is a highly competitive series. During all of my races, I am routinely surrounded by as many as 15 cars all running within the same 1 second lap bracket. Additionally, in the Spec Miata series, I for the most part am the only female racer, routinely surrounded by male drivers. On the TC side of things, I have little exposure since I have only completed one race. To the contrary, I thoroughly enjoy the high profile World Challenge creates and very much appreciate the professionalism of all teams and drivers. Over the course of my Spec Miata racing, I can't say that the professionalism compares to that of WC largely because I am a young rookie female driver competing with veteran drivers, some of which cannot accept my level of competition."
Do you have any unique habits or rituals before a race? "I usually get a little nervous before the race and tend to get a little quiet. But for the most part, no, I don't have any hard habits or rituals before the race. I simply take it all in stride, get myself ready for the race, put my game face on and hit the track. From a family perspective we are fairly ritual before each race when my Mom buckles me in and kisses me on my helmet."
Is racing your full time job or is this something you do on the weekends? Do you work or go to school? "Currently, racing is all I do. I would prefer to have a job, but as it appears, no one is willing to hire me with the World Challenge race schedule for 2019. My plan for the year as it stands today is to keep job searching and work to prepare myself for the GMAT test. Once I have completed my GMAT, I plan to go back to school to complete my MBA. I currently do unpaid work for an equity group, that I utilize for preparation for my end career."
Does anyone else in your family race or are you the first one? "I am the first and likely the only there will ever be."
Congratulations on your podium finish this past weekend at COTA. Can you describe your feelings or what was going through your mind when you crossed the finish line? "Initially when I crossed the finish line, I thought I finished 4th. Then my driver coach informed me of my 3rd position. From that point I was extremely excited and could not believe that I had a podium finish in my first professional race. As the interviewers asked questions and I of course responded you could easily tell my excitement level was off the charts. This seemed to last for the hour following the race."
It was a thrill to watch you battle your way in the last six minutes into third, your skills truly shined. Can you talk us through what was going on? What was your thought process? "Over the course of my racing I have been under the guidance of a single coach. He has taught me a lot, although I am sure I have learned a lot on my own. One thing I do well is to maintain patience and set myself up for a pass. A lot of drivers do not have patience and rush things which causes them to make mistakes. During the last 6 minutes, I was totally focused on gaining position and finishing the race. I fought hard with the drivers in front of me, maintained my patience and calculated when and where I would make my move to gain position."
Do you ever find yourself facing adversity being a female in a male dominated sport? If so, how do you handle that? "Yes. I don't see or feel it with World Challenge, but in the amateur Spec Miata series, there are always some of the drivers that can't accept me beating them either because I am a female or because I am a total rookie with little experience. To the contrary, I have been able to gain the respect of many drivers who see and understand my abilities and can look past the competitive nature of the sport."
Happy National Women's Day! You are such an inspiration to women and girls looking to become more involved in Motorsports. Do you have any role models that inspire you? "For the most part, my role models are those racers that excel in the sport, male or female. While there are many females who compete in varied Motorsports, I tend to only follow those competing in road racing. I do look up to Katherine Legge , who is a highly competitive female racer. Since the beginning of my racing desire, I have always looked up to Patrick Long, he is a great driver and competes in Porsche cars, which in the end is my goal as well."
Do you have any advice for other females looking to come up in the professional racing world? "The best advice I can give is "just do it". In the end, if I would have taken the position that I am a girl, I would not be here today talking about my racing. I personally plunged straight into racing head first with no prior experience and have shown them that I can compete. I am not one to back away and certainly not one to give up before I start because its a ‘mans‘ sport. When I race, I treat the racers with respect and expect the same in return. If one wants to push me around on the track, I can push back. To me there is no difference man to woman on the race track."
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog do not necessarily reflect those of the guest, host or the DrivingForwardTogether initiative.