by J.O. Parker
Hailey Morse, 18, grew up hanging around dirt race tracks.
She spent many Friday and Saturday nights during racing season watching her dad, Rod Morse, and grandpa, Gary Morse, both of Montezuma, race.
“Every single weekend we would go racing,” she said. “My grandpa is still racing in his 70s and he often teams up with Rod to compete in the two-man cruiser class.”
When Hailey got old enough to get behind the wheel, she naturally wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps and keep the racing tradition alive.
Hailey is in her third year of racing. She owns and races a 1998 front wheel drive Chevy Malibu that has been converted into a race car.
It’s blue and black with the number 16 painted in pink zebra stripes on both doors.
When asked why number 16, Hailey said her birthday is the 16th.
“It’s is my special number,” she added.
She races at dirt tracks in Brooklyn, Barnes City, What Cheer and Sigourney.
Hailey said she is one of only a handful of women racing at area dirt tracks.
“Women are not as common, but I think the numbers are starting to go up,” she said.
Hailey grew up in Montezuma and Grinnell and attended Grinnell High School, graduating in 2019. Following high school, she joined the Air National Guard, also following in her dad’s footsteps, and went through boot camp.
“I don’t regret going to basic training, but it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said.
This summer, she and her dad are both working at the 132nd Wing, Air National Guard Base in Des Moines. Her job is an aviation resource manager.
Hailey also just finished her first year at the University of Northern Iowa where she is studying human resources management. When she completes her course work, she will hold a degree in HRM with several certifications.
Back to racing
When asked how fast she goes in her car, Hailey said she doesn’t know as there is no speedometer.
“I’m probably not going very fast, but it feels like I am going fast,” she said.
Hailey races in heats and main events. Some races, she said, will have a half dozen cars and the main events can have more than 20 cars.
“It depends on the track,” she said.
The best she has done is second in a heat and third in a main event. Each race she completes in, she earns points. At the end of the season, drivers receive award plaques and the best Hailey has done is fourth place overall.
Hailey said she wouldn’t be racing if not for her dad, grandpa and boyfriend keeping her car going.
“I do help,” Hailey said of working on her car. “But my car wouldn’t be running without them.”
Hailey has painted the names of her pit crew and main supporters across the back of her race car trunk and window.
Before getting behind the wheel, Hailey said she is usually nervous before a race.
“But once I get out there, I get a big rush,” she said. “There is just nothing else going on. Nothing else matters at that time.”