Hailie Deegan navigates social fame with NASCAR ambitions – Salisbury Post

Hailie Deegan navigates social fame with NASCAR ambitions

Published at 11:00 PM Wednesday November 2, 2022

by JENNA FRYER

AP السيارات motor racing writer

DENVER, NC – Hayley Deegan lives eight miles off the main road in a house stripped of his address – which limits a persistent stalker who managed to locate her even after buying her first home.

He hid in the brush across the two-lane road from the house, not far from the sign that read “Honey Sale $4.10”. The situation with the obsessed fan became public earlier this year when Deegan skipped the April race in Florida due to alleged death threats against her boyfriend.

So Deegan learned how to protect herself, document any unusual communications, and be aware of her surroundings. I’ve used NASCAR safety as well as private security at the races, but the 21-year-old Truck Series driver doesn’t have the financial budget for regular detailing, so she’s dealing with it on her own.

Her house has a security system, and she says she is equipped with weapons that she knows how to use.

Chase Cabre, who like Deegan came through the NASCAR Driver Development Program but didn’t start dating Deegan until those early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, lives with her, and his brother is often around. Her uncle and his new wife recently moved from California to Deegan’s house.

Even without the address posted on the property, Uncle Sonny made sure passers-by didn’t miss the house: He dug an entire dirt path in her front yard that featured an open hatch, three cascading bowls, a jumping gap with an increase at the bottom, a tabletop, and plenty of twists and turns.

Want to find Deegan? She’s probably in her Can-Am Maverick X3 tearing up her front yard and creating content for her YouTube page of half a million followers. Boasting 1.2 million followers on Instagram and with Cabre as her social media manager, the pair typically dedicate two days a week to creating content for the only female NASCAR driver to race full time nationally.

Deegan is smart, understands impressions and brand value and navigates the aggressive motorsport financial landscape where a driver must be talented on the track and usually also be able to secure funding for the racing team.

Deegan told the Associated Press on the day he spent with her at her North Carolina home.

“Damn, no matter how hard you work, sometimes it doesn’t make any difference because someone has more money.”

Heading into the last Truck Series race of the year Friday night at Phoenix Raceway with no plans announced for 2023. Deegan is a development driver for Ford and has spent the last two seasons in NASCAR’s Class III National Racing Trucks for David Gilliland.

Gilliland is moving his program to Toyota next season, and although Deegan started her career with Toyota, she has no place in the move.

What’s Next?

Deegan’s future isn’t actually in doubt, at least not according to Ford.

She has a sponsorship package from Monster Energy, which also sponsored her father, Brian, the most decorated freestyle motocross racer and star of X-Games. But it’s not enough money, so Deegan is gaining personal deals and using social media to attract sponsors.

Its strategy is deliberate and it generates statistical data that it can present to potential backers as proof of its value.

Deegan’s presence on social media can be a stronger sales point than her results on the track: Deegan in two seasons in the Truck Series has three places in the top ten in 44 starts and has yet to advance. I’ve failed to finish seven times due to accidents, and the error rarely matters.

“I know mistakes have been made, especially at the truck chain level, but I’m really crazy about it,” Deegan told The Associated Press. “Because I know how hard we work for that money. And when I have a good day and run well and get devastated, I know what that means in the eyes of the shepherds.”

Knowing that Deegan needed the 2023 flight, Ford last month helped her start her first career in the Xfinity series. She placed thirteenth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“She did exactly what she wanted to do. She had a good car, a good team around her, she had the right approach and the right setup,” said Mark Rashbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global manager. And that’s exactly what we wanted to see from her.”

Rushbrook will only comment on Deegan in 2023 by saying that she “will definitely be at Ford racing for something next year.”

Deegan would love that it was a ride from the Xfinity series after two frustrating seasons at Trucks. After her Las Vegas debut, Deegan looked directly into a live TV camera and put her foot forward: “If anyone wants to pay the bills, I’m more than happy to race more Xfinity races.”

role model

The line blasted across the ballroom floor of the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway as women of all ages lined up to meet Deegan, who appeared at the Women in Motorsports Conference last month.

15-year-old Katie Hettinger was waiting to speak to Deegan, a contestant from Michigan who had just been announced as a Drive for Diversity campaigner. Deegan went through the same process and Hettinger hoped to seek advice.

Hettinger never had a chance. As soon as Hettinger told Deegan she was going to gather, Deegan got down to the nitty-gritty. She told the younger contestant what to expect and stressed several times, “Just make sure you stand out. Make sure they know who you are before it’s over.”

Deegan is accessible, and she is also attractive as Danica Patrick. She doesn’t sidestep the path Patrick took early on to cash in on her looks to fund her races, and that’s probably how Deegan has landed her scariest stalker yet.

Deegan has received its share of weird attention and aggressive fans over the years, but nothing like a nearly year-long case in which a man claimed he was sent to rescue Deegan from an abusive Cabre. Deegan says the man was “used” into believing he had an affair with her, and when his social media interactions this year escalated until he showed up at the team store, the California girl had to learn how to play the detective and the laws of North Carolina.

Deegan says she has a restraining order. The experience did not make her less likely to appear.

She takes pride when contestants like Hettinger approach her and hopes her career will rise to the point where she can inspire even more.

“I love seeing other young girls enter the race, and older men come up to me and say ‘I made my daughter race because of you, because I saw that you were able to do that and show that there was hope,'” Deegan said. “Young girls come up to me when I’m on the dirt road, and tell me how they watch my YouTube videos so they can see how I drive, how I act.

“I’m not perfect, but at least they are watching.”

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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