California’s Heather Hadley has raced all over the country in Legends cars, from the West Coast to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout and many points in between.
On Friday, Hadley’s racing journey took her to New Smyrna Speedway, finishing fourth in her first start in a full-bodied race car during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Hadley finished fourth in the 35-lap Sportsman feature on opening night of the World Series, a prelude to Saturday’s 50-lap Sportsman marquee race. While the Sportsman cars are nothing like the Legends machines Hadley has raced, she sees the adjustment as vital to her development as a racer.
“It’s nothing like a Legends car,” Hadley told Speed51. “It’s literally the total opposite of what I’m used to. I’ve been racing Legends for five years and never made a step up into anything bigger. This is a pivotal time for me.
“This is incredible equipment, a great car, and it was a super fun day overall.”
The Chad Pierce Motorsports stable prepared Hadley’s entry for the weekend, a familiar name in the Sportsman ranks in Florida. Hadley credits Pierce for helping make the trip to the World Series a reality.
“We just started talking to people. I wanted to move up. We knew that Chad Pierce was one of the best in Sportsman. We made it happen.”
The first day of racing in the Sportsman car provided plenty of learning experiences. Beyond the obvious size differences between the two cars, Hadley also noted the different driving styles required behind the wheel.
“New Smyrna teaches me a lot about momentum racing. Dragging the brake, not using as much pressure as I normally do in a Legend. It’s crazy. I’m getting used to the size of a big car like this. It’s totally different for me. I’m used to something six feet long, and this is 17 feet. This is totally different and out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad to be here.”
While in Florida, Hadley also plans to take part in the INEX Winter Nationals at Auburndale Speedway next week.
“We’re driving down after the second race in the Sportsman, the 50-lapper, to Auburndale to practice in the Legends car and race from Monday to Friday. I’m excited for that, I’ve never been there. This is my second time to Florida, so this is all kind of new to me.”
While Hadley’s 2021 plans are not set in stone, she hopes to continue participating in major Legends events. She also wants to find more seat time in full-bodied cars if the opportunities present themselves.
“Hopefully, I will do the [Summer] Shootout in North Carolina in the Legend car over the summer. If I can afford it, I’ll get into a Late Model by the end of the year, depending on sponsorship and things like that.”
Fans can follow Speed51’s on-location coverage presented by BMR Drivers Academy throughout the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Updates from Friday’s racing are available on Race Day Now by clicking here. Fans can also enjoy all of Speed51.TV’s on-demand video content from the World Series with a free seven-day trial by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo / Will Bellamy