Racing: 'It was a goose-bump deal'
was a goose-bump deal'
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Birthplace: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Who started you: Parents
Biggest influence: Father Billy Hayes
Women you admire: Julie McDermid
Fathers Thoughts: He owns the car
Your encouragement: Face the challenge, fight to
First Feature Win in IMCA Sport Mod.
Racing: 'It was
a goose-bump deal'
Hayes only second female driver to win feature at
Kelsy Hollywood Hayes wasnt
real keen on her starting position for last
Saturday nights IMCA sport mod feature at
Thunderhill Raceway in Sturgeon Bay.
I think I started third or fourth row, and
it seems whenever I start near the front of the
pack I dont do very well. Something bad
usually happens, she said. I push too
hard and spin myself out, or I dont go out
hard enough and I get passed. It seems when I start
further back, I finish higher.
This particular race, however, couldnt
have worked out any better for the up-and-coming
19-year-old racer from Sturgeon Bay.
Hayes got off to a strong start, took the lead
on lap three of the 20-lap race and then withstood
two cautions en route to winning her first feature
at Thunderhill and becoming only the second female
feature winner in track history. The first to
accomplish the feat was former IMCA modified driver
Julie McDermid of Oconto Falls, who won several
features at Thunderhill years ago, according to
longtime track promoter Bryan Woody
In a sport dominated by men, Wodack said
Hayes victory is a special
It was exciting to see her win that
race, said Wodack. To have her get her
first win at her hometown track was really cool.
The crowd went crazy. It was a goose-bump
Hayes passed James Iverson for the lead early in
the feature and remained there until the end,
despite having to deal with two mid-race cautions
that bunched the field and forced her back to
square one. Hayes said she was a little
worried about having to restart the race
twice, but she steadily pulled away after the last
caution with eight laps remaining and crossed the
finish line well ahead of runner-up Randy
Hayes, who has a big following of supporters,
drew a loud round of applause from the crowd, said
I couldnt hear them screaming, but I
was yelling in my own helmet. I kept saying,
Yes, I did it! Yes, I did it!
recalled Hayes. I was so excited.
Then I heard the track announcer say,
Down in victory lane is Kelsy
Hollywood Hayes. All I could do
was wave and smile. It was nice hearing all that
support. Its just a hobby, but thats
half the fun to have people cheering for
Hayes said the win was like an early
present for her father, Billy, who celebrated
his birthday Thursday.
As soon as I won, he literally ran into
the circle and gave me a huge hug, said
Hayes, who credits her father and mechanic Randy
Theys for her success. Then my dad picked my
mom (Jayne) out of the stands and she gave me a big
hug too. And after taking millions of pictures we
went to the pits and everybody was shaking my hand
and telling me, Good job. Ive
been waiting for this for a while, so it was really
Hayes, a self-described adrenaline
junkie who loves speed and competition,
became interested in racing at a young age. She
started racing go-karts on asphalt tracks at age 10
and then jumped into her first stock car at age
Im a third-generation driver. My
grandfather raced and my father raced, she
said. I grew up at the races and I used to
watch them and say, Someday, Im going
to be like them.
When I turned 15, my dad asked me if I
wanted to start racing cars. I told him that seemed
pretty fast, so I started racing a four-cylinder.
Halfway through my first season, I blew the car up,
and my dad said, Im not sticking any
more money into that car. Youre either moving
up to a hobby stock or were not going to race
anymore. So I finished the year in a hobby
stock and stayed with that for another year before
moving up to a sport mod three years ago.
Hayes is one of four women who race on a regular
basis at Thunderhill. She said being a female in a
male-dominated sport has its ups and
Its hard because some guys
dont like being beat by a girl and they can
be sore losers about it, she said. And
then there are other guys who encourage it.
I used to have issues with some of the
guys and it seemed like whenever I was in front of
them, I got taken out. Its hard because
racings not a girl thing, its a guy
thing, and you have to prove that you belong. My
dad always tells me, It doesnt matter
who youre racing, a guy or a girl, its
just another person you have to
Wodack said Hayes is a classy girl who
conducts herself well and is admired by a lot
of fans, especially the children, who attend the
races at Thunderhill.
There arent a lot of female drivers
out there, so I think people take a liking to that
and clam on to her, said Wodack. She
brings people to the track and she can hold her own
with the boys, which is pretty cool.
Hayes, whos going to be a sophomore at the
University of Wisconsin-Stout this fall and is
majoring in graphic communications management, said
she gets mixed reaction from other college students
when they learn of her racing hobby.
A lot of them think its really weird
and a lot of them think its pretty
cool, she said. Ive shown some of
my college friends my racing videos on YouTube and
they think its pretty cool.
Hayes is known in racing circles as
Hollywood, a nickname that people
attached to her father when he was racing.
Im not really sure how that came
about, but when my dad raced he wore big aviator
glasses and they started calling him that,
said Hayes. And then one night when I was
racing, (track announcer) Eddy Anschutz called me
Hollywood and it just stuck. Im constantly on
the phone, either talking or texting, so the other
racers say, You really are Hollywood.
Its unique. Its fun. Its grown
every year and this year its way
Hayes said she loves racing because of the
competition and adrenaline rush she gets from the
Ive always been very competitive. I
have to make everything I do a competition,
she said. Theres something about
sitting in that car before the race and feeling the
butterflies going through your stomach.
I was so nervous the first time I raced a
hobby stock, but I really liked it. Now, the only
thing I want to do is go faster and I cant
wait to move up again. I want to get way up there
and race a sprint car someday. I think that would
be the coolest thing.
Hayes has caught on quickly in her five years of
racing. She won a hobby stock feature at Chilton
Speedway in 2009 at age 16 and was Rookie of the
Year in the sport mods at both Thunderhill and 141
Speedway in Francis Creek in 2010.
Shes currently fourth in the sport mod
standings at Thunderhill, just nine points out of
the lead, and fourth out of 51 drivers at Oshkosh
Speedzone Raceway, where she races on Friday
Hayes said her goals for the remainder of the
season are to try and collect some more
trophies and stay up at the top for
Shes on the right path, said
Wodack. I think there are even more (wins)
for her to come.
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©1996-2019 by of Gordon Clay