Racing dream carries Hagar to California

Posted Aug. 20, 2009, at 10:09 p.m.

Katie Hagar began racing go-karts when she was 11 years old.

She is now 23 and her quest to race at the highest level possible has taken her 3,000 miles from her native Damariscotta.

She is in her second season in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

Hagar is driving for Frank Jordan’s Golden State Racing team in the Whelen All-American Series for Late Models.

Hagar drove for Bill McAnally Racing in the same series last year and had 11 top-10 finished among 14 starts and finished 13th in points.

She has several top-10 finishes this season including a pair of seconds. In addition, she set the track record at the Stockton 99 track in qualifying in June with a time of 13.57 seconds over the quarter-mile oval. She is the first woman to ever hold the track record.

She still holds the record.

“That’s a real nice accomplishment. I’ve never been able to do that before. I’ve got a great team behind me. It’s real exciting,” said Hagar, who is home in Maine visiting family.

She has been enjoying her time in California as she hopes to climb the ladder.

“Things have been going really good. Frank and Golden State Racing have provided me with a competitive car. It’s been a great fit for me. We’ve had our good luck and our bad luck but the most important thing is I’m constantly learning,” said Hagar, a former soccer-basketball-softball standout at Newcastle’s Lincoln Acad-emy.

She has impressed Jordan.

“She’s very teachable and she has a strong, competitive desire to do well,” said Jordan. “She’s fast and she has awesome car control. If the car starts to get loose, she’ll make the corrections instantaneously.”

He also enjoys her personality.

“She has a great personality. She’s a lot of fun. She’s a little firecracker,” said Jordan.

The team hasn’t been able to race a full schedule “due to budgetary constraints,” according to Jordan.

They have raced at a handful of tracks although the vast majority of races have been at Stockton 99.

“In the Drive for Diversity Program, they like the drivers to stay at one track for the whole season,” explained Jordan.

And to cut costs, he said they often have twin 50-lap features each weekend.

She finished seventh and eighth in twin-50s this past weekend at Stockton 99 in her back-up car.

Jordan said teammate Eric Schmidt has been helpful in her development.

“He has helped her quite a bit. He has given her instructions on how to read a race car and how to get the most out of what you have,” he said.

“He was my mentor and driver coach at the beginning of the year,” said Hagar.

Hagar keeps busy when she isn’t racing, volunteering at the race shop and doing a lot of marketing work while trying to land sponsors.

“The economy is real bad in California,” said Hagar. “I wish we had better luck finding sponsors.”

Hagar will race two weekends in September and then she will head to a NASCAR combine to try out for a ride for next season.

Jordan said the fact she has been in the Drive for Diversity Program for two years will help her land a ride for next year.

He also said it would be her final year because “they don’t want you staying in the program more than three years.”

He hopes she can land a ride in the Camping World East or West Series and move up.

For the time being, Hagar said, “I’m just going to take things one race at a time.

“I’m 23 years old and this is something I want to do while I’m young and healthy. This is a great opportunity for me. I just want to make sure I surround myself with good people who believe in me,” she said.

“You can never tell what’s ahead. I’m just going to do the best I can,” added Hagar who finished 12th in points in the Pro All-Stars Series North Outlaw Division in 2007 thanks to four top-tens.

She was also an Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model racer; a Modified driver and a seven-time winner in the New England Allison Legacy Series between 2003 and 2004.

The Allison Legacy cars are three-quarter size Sprint Cup cars with four-cylinder engines.

Jordan said Hagar has a lot of the ingredients needed to be successful at the next level and she just needs to fine-tune her driving in traffic so she can pick her way through it and bring home a solid finish.

PASS heads to Canaan Sunday

The Pro All-Stars Series’ Super Late Model North, Modified and Sportsman classes will head to Canaan Fair Speedway (N.H.) on Sunday for the first time in three years.

Heat races will begin at 2 p.m.

Hallowell’s Johnny Clark has a 46-point lead over Turner’s Ben Rowe atop the SLM points standings with Adam Bates of Warner, N.H., five points behind Rowe.

North Conway, N.H., native Andy Shaw leads the Modifieds by 45 points over Scott Grant of Waterboro and 47 over Bill Dixon of North Waterboro. Hermon’s Greg Ellis is sixthm, 81 points behind.

Bill McKeage of Gorham leads the Sportsman by 24 points over Michael Landry of Oakland. Denmark’s Carey Martin is third, four points behind Landry and Levant’s Shane Tatro is fourth, 53 points behind the leader.

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