Taylor Hagler checks in for work at 7:30 am every day at a Texas aviation maintenance company for her eight-hour shift as an administrative assistant.
He has no qualms about discussing his desk job with strangers.
It is his second career that he avoids when a random person asks what he does for a living. It’s not always easy to explain that she’s a racing driver, and a good one too: Hagler is only the second female champion in IMSA sports car history.
“I tend not to tell people. My parents and sister will be the first to say ‘She’s a race car driver!’ and I’m usually burying my head in my phone,” Hagler told The Associated Press. “Last time we went out to dinner and this person was paying attention to our conversation and was like, ‘Oh! Do you like FS1? I said ‘No, what is that?’ and they were like ‘Forza’ and I had to say ‘No, that’s a video game. I drive a real race car.
Hagler races Thursday at Sebring International Raceway in the Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR Championship with co-driver Michael Lewis. She qualified fifth on Wednesday in a Hyundai presented by Bryan Herta Autosport.
Last year, the duo won the class championship, making Hagler the first woman to win the TCR class and the only second female champion in IMSA history.
The 26-year-old Texan was a latecomer to motorsports and only started getting into it seriously after retiring from show jumping. His father was a racing fan and had purchased a three-day certificate for Hagler’s older sister to participate in Skip Barber Racing School.
But her sister, Crystal, had no interest and Taylor was only 13 at the time. Her certificate gathered dust for several years, and Hagler continued her own journey that took her to college at UTSA.
It wasn’t until she was with her family at Petit Le Mans and saw Skip Barber’s stall on the track that boredom led her to ask if the certificate had expired.
“I was like, ‘Hey, can I use it? Skip Barber says he’s still good,’” Hagler said. “So my dad bought a second three-day certificate and did it with me, and it ended up being a fun thing for dad and daughter to do together.”
That was in 2015, and Hagler returned to the Barber school the following year for a two-day session. A shoulder injury that required surgery cost him most of 2017, but at the end of that year he successfully obtained his racing license.
She had early success in the lower divisions, a podium finish in her debut race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and was one of the first drivers to come through the HPD Academy, where she trained in GT3 cars and expanded her involvement with IMSA. . Michelin Pilot Challenge program.
Hagler moved to the Herta program last year and partnered Lewis in a big IMSA win at Lime Rock Park that sparked his championship run. It was his only win of the season – Hagler and Lewis opened this season in January with a second-place finish at Daytona – and he would like to add more wins to his resume as he defends his title.
“Obviously the goal is to win another championship, but with a little shorter sighting, I would definitely like to get a couple more wins,” Hagler said. “It’s a bit weird and weird to win a championship with just one win royal in a race, and Bryan, my co-driver and my engineers have been working on qualifying. That has always been a weakness of mine, it takes me too long to get up to speed and by the time I do, my tires have worn out. So I would like to qualify better and put ourselves in a position to win more races.”
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