In her rookie racing season, all Tracey Hazard wanted to do was fit in.
Auto-racing, after all, has historically been a male-dominated sport, so at the track, Hazard, in her words, “stuck out like a sore thumb.”
Fast forward four years and she still a focus of considerable attention – but this time, only because her fellow drivers want to pick her brain about her car and her strategy.
Winning will have that effect.
Hazard is the reigning points champion in the ICSCC Spec Miata Championship series – a circuit that includes tracks throughout the Pacific Northwest – and this year, she is again in the lead. Last year, she was also named driver of the year in the CACC (Canadian) series.
“When we first started going to the races, I would just sort of absorb all the information I could from everyone,” said the 42-year-old South Surrey resident.
“Now, it’s coming full circle for me – now people are coming up to me and asking, ‘what are you using for tires?’ or ‘what’s your setup?’”
She admits her quick rise from rookie to respected veteran still catches her off-guard at times – like when other racers introduce her as “Tracey, the one to beat” – but still remembers what it was like to be the new girl on the scene.
In the ICSCC, there’s about six (women) now, but you’ll still see people come out to watch, and look at the cars, and they’ll see you and just look at you, like ‘Huh?’”
Hazard began racing four years ago after she and her husband, Tom – who doubles as her crew chief and mechanic – bought a sports car and wanted to test it out on a track. Hazard signed up for a driver-training course and Mission Raceway, and “kind of had the bug from there.”
Soon after, they bought a Miata that was race-ready – modifications which included the interior torn out and a roll-cage installed – and started racing.
Hazard had never raced at any level before, nor even shown much previous interest in it.
“I’ve always been crazy about cars. I go through cars like other women go through shoes,” she said. “But racing? Not so much.”
Nevertheless, zipping around the track at high speed fueled her competitive spirit, which is what drives her to succeed even now, four years and numerous accolades later.
“I’ve always been competitive – ever since I was a kid,” she said.
“I was competitive gymnast for 10 or 12 years, track and field, tennis – all kinds of stuff. I’d do anything, play anything.
“Even in elementary school, I was like that. As soon as I found out you got a ribbon for winning a race, I was all about winning.”
She’s so competitive, in fact, that she has three fully functioning race cars, rather than the typical one. That way, should something go wrong with one car, she has a backup and doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines. The extra cars are especially handy on weekends with multiple races, where there isn’t time for repairs to be done.
“It’s not normal to have that many,” Hazard said. “But I’m fighting for points, and I’m so competitive that, if my car is destroyed, I have a backup ready to go.”
In her four years behind the wheel, she has had a few crashes, she said. Once, on a straightaway, she crashed into a concrete wall – hard enough that the wall cracked – and also has “ended up flipped over once.”
Usually, though, the car’s damage is limited to bumps and scratches, and more than a few lost mirrors.
“You drive so close together,” she said.
Adjusting back to life away from the track is also tricky at times, she admits – especially fresh off a race weekend when it takes her a few days to gear down the adrenaline.
“I really have to dial it back, really have to concentrate,” said Hazard, who is also a high-performance driving instructor.
“But I’ve never – knock on wood – got a speeding ticket.”
Next up for Hazard is three-race weekend in Mission Aug. 31-Sept. 2; the racing season wraps up in October.
Next year, her Hazardous Racing team will look to compete on a pro series in California, which Hazard says “is extremely competitive.”
“I’ll be knocked back down the totem pole a little bit,” she said.
Because the sport is an expensive one – Hazard guesses last season cost about $100,000 – she and her husband are always seeking additional corporate sponsors. For more information, email email@example.com