MOORESVILLE – When Katie Hagar’s shift ends each evening at Leavitt Racing Components, she continues working well into the night – building her own race car part by part.
After three years in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, she hopes to return to the track in 2011 with Katie Hagar Motorsports. And working at Leavitt offers her the opportunity to learn another layer of racing.
The 25-year-old believes having a greater understanding of how parts work will help her better diagnose potential problems while driving.
“It’s so much more precise because you have the understanding of where the part is located, what it does and how much it costs,” Hagar said. “There’s so many more things that play into the factor of what these components do on a race car. I feel like it’s going to help me as a driver, overall.”
Hagar is no pushover on the track.
During the 2010 season, she earned four top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes driving for Revolution Racing at Hickory and Tri-County motor speedways.
She was among a group of drivers featured on Black Entertainment Television’s six-episode documentary, “Changing Lanes,” which followed minority drivers trying to break into the male-dominated sport.
She’s had no problem fitting in as one of 12 employees at Leavitt Racing Components.
“We like her dedication in racing, determination and her focus towards productivity,” President and Owner Stephen Leavitt Jr. said. “Her knowledge with race cars is a huge benefit, considering she is a driver, as well as someone who can take on the full task of our parts department, shipping and handling and being able to utilize her welding skills in the shop.”
Leavitt Racing Components hired Hagar three months ago to manage its parts room, but over time, her role has grown to include sales, shipping, shop work and welding.
Initially, Hagar left work everyday to build her race car at a friend’s shop. But the Leavitts allowed Hagar to work on her race car out of their shop and supply her with the materials to build her own parts.
Company officials say it’s one of the few parts companies that offer the local short-track teams the same technology used in the top three major series of NASCAR.
While other racing parts shops have stalled due to the economy and declining industry revenues, the company has diversified by working with a wide range of teams in the Canadian Tire Series, Super Late Model Series and American Canadian Tour – while maintaining relationships with top NASCAR teams.
Hagar anticipates having her car race ready within the next month. By then, if she can obtain financial backing, she would be able to drive 10 races in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
“Right now, it’s difficult to find the funding to be able to race,” Hagar said, anticipating the cost to range from $1,200 to $2,000 a weekend. That includes the costs for tires, fuel, transportation and maintaining a crew. Then there’s the potential of having to repair a wrecked car.
But Hagar will not be deterred.
“I see myself making history as the first female driver/owner who’s built her own racecar and winning a race,” Hagar said. “That’s history. That’s what I’m trying to do.”