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On November 12th during the Fox Factory 120 race of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road Atlanta, 26-year-old Taylor Hagler became the second woman in IMSA history to claim an IMSA championship, the first being Christina Nielsen. This comes after a hard-fought season in the Touring Car Racing (TCR) class for Hagler, who stepped onto the podium five times during the 2021 MPC season, including a win at Lime Rock Park back in July.

Additionally, she raced behind the wheel of the #93 Racer’s Edge Acura NSX GT3 in GT World Challenge America. A few weeks prior to the race at Road Atlanta, she and her team earned the third spot on the podium after the grueling 8 Hours of Indy, as well as first place at Watkins Glen a few weeks before that. It’s been a career year for Hagler, and her future is looking brighter than ever.

Welcome to Headlight. This is a daily news feature that lights up one current event in the car world and breaks it down by three simple subheadings: What Happened, Why It Matters, and What To Look For Next. Look for it in the morning (Eastern time) every weekday.

What Happened

According to Sunday Group Management, Hagler and teammate Michael Lewis of the #77 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR had a solid 2021 season overall.  The early success put them 230 points ahead of second place in the championship before the green flag waved on that Friday afternoon. All they had to do was cross the start line and the title was theirs.

The race was split in half between the two, with Hagler taking the first stint and Lewis following up with the second, during which he drove home to fifth place out of 17 contenders. The Michelin Pilot Challenge contains both TCR and the GS class, which is IMSA’s equivalent of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) GT4, more or less. While both classes have ample amounts of talented drivers who can work with it, traffic can become intense on track. Especially on treacherous tracks like Road Atlanta, which is renowned for its tricky braking zones and full-send sweepers.

Hagler’s win also makes history for TCR, which is an FIA class that’s raced all over the globe. She’s the first female IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Champion, first female TCR champion in North America, and the third TCR champion worldwide.

veloster n TCR 77 hagler lewis
#77 Bryan Herta Autosport – Michael Lewis, Taylor Hagler Bryan Herta Autosport

Why It Matters

To put it simply, motorsports needs more women in its ranks. It’s cool that a woman has won a professional motorsports driver championship, but it’s a bummer that she’s only the second in IMSA history.

Motorsports has always been a predominantly male sport. There have been a good number of female racecar drivers throughout the years, stretching back to the ‘80s and beyond. Today, we have drivers like Hailie Deegan, Samantha Tan, Sally McNulty, and Lindsay Brewer, among many others, duking it out on North American tracks and elsewhere. But motorsports should be all about inclusion, and there needs to be more women in the field.

What To Look For Next

Hagler is no newbie. She’s driven in various SRO World Challenge classes over the years, and 2021 was her second year in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR. She has a lot of podiums to look forward to as a pro driver and will definitely be an inspiration to other women out there with motorsports aspirations.

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