The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with Hailie Deegan, a 17-year-old who recently won a K&N West Series race for the second straight season. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?
iPhone all the way. My mom used to have an Android and I was like, “I cannot use this thing. It’s weird. No. Not normal.” (Laughs)
So did she have it when you had the iPhone and you would get the green bubble?
Yeah, so I had to get the green text and you never know if it delivered, you never know if they read them. And I like to be the person that sees if you read it.
You have your read receipts on?
No, I don’t have mine on — but I like it when other people have theirs on. (Laughs)
You expect that from other people?
Unless like I’m purposely ignoring you, I don’t have it on.
I’m not in favor of turning mine on. But I also like when other people have them on because it’s just like, “I saw what you did there.”
Like, “Did you leave me on read?” If not, then it’s like not delivered, which is even worse.
2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?
I’ll talk a lot. Like once you ask me a question, ask questions and stuff, I won’t stop talking. I won’t just give you one word answers. I talk a lot.
So if they bring something up, you’ll sit there.
Yeah, I’ll sit there and talk. I’ve got time.
3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?
Yes. I will go and get close to you and stuff like that.
One time, Todd Gilliland — I was getting on the freeway in Mooresville and all of a sudden this guy in this Toyota, he goes and he like pinches me in the wall and I was like so man, laid on the horn, and then Todd pokes his head out the window and I was like, “Oh my God.” (Laughs)
So he saw it was you, you had no idea it was him.
Yeah, I had no idea it was him. He knew it was me.
You were like, “Dude!”
Yeah. I was mad. (Laughs)
4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?
No, not really. I’d say the only time is like when I’m on fire and your belt gets stuck when you’re getting out of the car. That’s like the biggest thing on your HANS, and so you’re just trying to get out like you have to angle your helmet the right way to get out of your car while like the flames are going. But other than that, not really.
There’s like a brief moment of panic?
Panic. It’s like a half second, and you’re like, “Ugh!”
5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?
Yeah, that’s one thing about me. I like to know everything. I’m good at keeping secrets, but I like to know everything. I hate when people withhold information from me. It’s like the biggest thing I hate.
Just in life in general?
Yeah, in life in general. I hate when people keep secrets from me, like, “Oh?” I won’t say anything — just tell me though!
6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?
OK. So I can eat just about anything and not get sick, but Waffle House, I wouldn’t suggest Waffle House. I threw up after I had Waffle House.
Like on the morning of a race?
It wasn’t before the race, but that’s the only time I’ve ever really gotten sick from eating something. And I eat like a ton and don’t get sick; it doesn’t really mess with me, I don’t know why.
You have an iron stomach?
Yeah, but like Waffle House, for some reason…
It’s like your kryptonite?
Yeah. But it tastes really good.
7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?
Man, this question! Me and my dad have had talks about this question (of life in outer space). I think there might be something. I don’t think they race though.
So some sort of life, but they’re maybe not advanced enough to race? Or they’re just not into racing?
Maybe too advanced or something, and they’re just like past the point of NASCAR racing.
They’re like, “We don’t need to race, we’re just so civilized.”
Yeah, probably something like that.
8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?
It’s usually really not about racing or about sketchy people that are racing. It’s usually just little drama, like what’s going on. Like everyone like spills the tea in their little group circles. Everyone usually has like their little clique circles, but occasionally you’ll go and you’ll hop in another one and hear their little drama that’s going on.
So like talking about some dude that doesn’t belong out there, that kind of thing?
Yeah, you talk about a guy out there that wrecks everyone in the back of the field that you’ve got to watch out for. It’s like those guys you talk about, and then there’s all this little drama. And usually we’re all like roasting each other just about stuff. That happens a lot.
Hopefully you haven’t walked up into a conversation about you.
Oh, you know when it’s about you. No…usually when I walk into a conversation and they’re talking about me, they usually just don’t even care and keep talking.
9. What makes you happy right now?
What makes me happy is winning. That’s the only thing. That and food. I love food.
But not Waffle House.
Well, I do like it, it just doesn’t like me. It’s like New Smyrna — like I love that track, it just doesn’t love me. (Laughs)
10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?
I’m down. I’ll do it. Do I get a PSA?
Like a what?
Personal (service) agreement.
Oh, like a vehicle deal out of it or something?
Like money besides racing.
Yeah, you can have that.
Yeah, I’d do it.
Yeah, they’ll do everything in this scenario.
I’ll promote it. I don’t care.
I’m fine with looking stupid. I usually make myself do that anyway.
11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.
We’ll do 19. I’ll do my race number.
This question is from 2011. It is: “What is the first thing you do when you get home after being gone for a long race weekend?”
You’re really committed to the food thing.
Dude, I LOVE food.
What food are you so interested in that it keeps popping into your mind? Are you like pizza, sushi?
I get on kicks, like kicks of certain food. I’d say two months ago, I was on this California Pizza Kitchen kick, where like I went there and ate a gluten free pizza like every single day. And now I’m on this P.F. Chang’s kick. But like, I’m on a sushi kick too; I love sushi. And honestly, I love Mexican food. I love everything. Everything.
Just not that spicy. Not a big spicy person. But I’ll eat pretty much anything.
What food are you not touching? What cuisine?
Stuff that’s spicy. So like, I’ve never had wings before.
But they can make them mild though!
I’m not a big chicken person. I like chicken lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang’s.
How did chicken get the dunce cap of all your food selections?
We have chickens at my house, and my little brother is supposed to take care of them, but he doesn’t really take care of them and they kind of just live in their poop over there. And I see them and they’re just nasty, and I’m like, “I’m not eating that.” They have eggs and my mom will try cooking them and I’m like, “I’m not eating that” — even though I’ll go buy store-bought eggs and eat those.
So you’re not anti-eggs when you’re eating out, but just anti-chicken. You see the chickens and they’re dirty and you’re just like, “No.”
Nuh huh, not feeling it.
12. The last interview was with Chase Briscoe. He wants to know, do you think there should be multiple Cup races on dirt?
I think yes.
I’m not too surprised there.
I think because there’s so many guys out there that don’t know how to drive dirt and probably never have, that it would mix it up pretty good and make for a good race. Because how often would you see guys that are really fast in the Cup Series spin out on a dirt track? Not very often. So make something new.
The second part of his question is, can you name a couple of track where you think that would be a good idea?
I’m not big on the dirt track scene, so I don’t know what good tracks there are. But something like ARCA races on, because those tracks aren’t bad. I think we should put them on the Vegas dirt track just to show them how much that dirt track is, how hard it is to drive.
You might have an advantage.
I might, yeah.
Do you have a question I can ask another driver?
If you had one person to be your ride or die friend for everything, like you had to hang out with them every single day, which driver would it be?
So they have to pick a driver?
It has to be a driver.
To be their BFF forever?
Yeah, forever. Just one, no one else. Just one.