2009 Local Tracks
STOCKTON 99 SPEEDWAY
Diversity driver riding in the fast lane at 99
Record Staff Writer
June 27, 2009 6:00 AM
STOCKTON - Katie Hagar traveled 2,500 miles from her home to advance her auto racing career. And it didn't take long before she proved to be as fast as anyone at the quarter-mile track in Stockton.
Hagar, a 23-year-old native of Damariscotta, Maine, and a member of NASCAR's Drive For Diversity program, set the Western Late Model qualifying record two weeks ago at Stockton 99 Speedway. She will go for her first win at 6 p.m. today when the track hosts twin 50-lap main events in the WLM division.
Stockton 99 has been fast since it was repaved last month, and Hagar set the mark on June 13 with a lap of 13.576 seconds to become the fastest driver in the track's primary division.
Stockton 99 Speedway
Green flag: 6 p.m. today, Stockton 99 Speedway
Racing program: NASCAR Western Late Model, Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks, Bombers
Information: (209) 466-9999; stockton99.com
"I really enjoyed doing it," said Hagar, who lives in Antelope. "There's a lot of fast drivers out here. Let's hope I can keep it for a while."
Hagar is competing in her second season for Drive For Diversity, a program set up by NASCAR in 2004 to give minorities and women a chance to move up in the sport. "It's great to be part of this program, and I want to do my best to represent (Driver for Diversity), NASCAR and my race team," Hagar said.
Hagar's father, Mark Hagar, was a race car owner at a track near Damariscotta for years, and Katie sometimes would go to the races with him.
She said it took a while before she warmed up to the sport. She started racing go-karts at 14, and moved into other divisions.
"She became interested in it, and we wanted to pursue it," Mark Hagar said. "We were at a track in (Hickory) North Carolina when someone brought up the Drive For Diversity program and thought Katie would be a good candidate."
The Drive For Diversity drivers are chosen each year at a racing combine at South Boston, Va. There are 12 candidates this season.
Last season, Katie Hagar was with Bill McAnally Racing and competed at All-American Speedway in Roseville. She joined Golden State Racing this season and raced at Madera Speedway before moving to Stockton 99.
"I think this program is important, and we're pleased to be a part of it," Golden State Racing owner Frank Jordan said. "The important thing for Katie this season is to get plenty of seat time and to learn."
Drive For Diversity competitors have done well at Stockton 99. Allison Duncan became the first woman to win a premier division main event at the track in 2005, and finished second in the points standings. In four races at the track, Katie Hagar has two second-place finishes, both behind Tracy veteran David Philpott in twin 50 lappers on June 6.
"She has talent," Philpott said. "She can drive, she's young, and as she gets more patience, she'll be in the front row a lot."
Hagar plans to keep improving, although sometimes it is tough to be so far away from Damariscotta.
"Sure, I miss home and my family, but this is an excellent opportunity," Hagar said. "That's why I'm here."Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.