Jamie Hatcher honing her skills in Open Wheel

dBy Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Mike Frieri

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — After four years at the controls of a Mini Stock, one highly-determined, notably talented and extremely young-at-heart racer from North Texas elected to go open-wheel racing in 2021. First with a successful stint in the entry-level Eco Mods, then on to a big stab at a Sport Mod.

For 49-year-old Jamie Hatcher, the challenge of advancing into one of the most competitive divisions in southern dirt track racing was appealing. A hard-working FedEx delivery driver by day, Hatcher loves to go racing on the weekends. This season, she's earned five top-five and eight top-10 finishes.

She's been like a sponge all year; soaking up knowledge, listening to guidance, and honing her skills.

“I'm happy with the progress I've made this year, but know I have a lot left to learn,” Hatcher said. “It's been a challenge going from a little four-cylinder Mini Stock into a big, V-8 powered open-wheel race car. It's been a big journey, but I'm enjoying every second of it.

“I just raced a two-night show at Southern Oklahoma Speedway, and my Friday night was terrible. It was a horrible night, but I still had a ball. Any time I can climb into that car, crank it up and get out on the track to learn, I'm having a good time. I'm a strong-willed gal, it's just the way I was raised.”

Now wrapping up her fifth season of racing, Hatcher learned how to race before making the big leap. A proud second generation racer, she's following in her father and uncle's footsteps. And doing it up right.

“I got my experience in the Mini Stock at Monarch Motor Speedway here in Wichita Falls, and also at Lawton Speedway in Oklahoma,” Hatcher explained. “They were the only two tracks around here that ran that class. I was always in the top 10 in final points, and I learned a lot about how to go racing.”

Like so many others before her, Hatcher felt the urge to try something different. It's a natural desire.

“At one point, I kind of ran into a wall with it and wanted a new challenge,” Hatcher said. “Getting into an Eco-Mod this year offered that and more. The first time I crawled into this car, people said it was going to scare me, and to just take it easy.

“I went around the track a couple of times, and I could feel it throwing me over to the right pretty hard. When the car rolls over to the right, that's kinda hard to take at first. But I kept getting faster and faster, then finally I just said to hell with it. I floored it, sailed down into the corner, hit the brake, got it turned and mashed the gas again coming off. That's all you can do, jump in and go for it. I'm doing my best.”

Once she made that leap from Eco-Mod into Southern Sport Mods this year, it got pretty real in a hurry.

“The level of competition in the Southern Sport Mods is absolutely amazing to me,” Hatcher said with candor. “Some times I run last, and some times I can run right up there. Those guys get up on the wheel every lap, every time out. I can get behind guys like Billy Brierton, Chad Reid and Jeramie Cox and just learn so much from them.”

At first glance, you may think Hatcher is a just show-up and drive style of driver. That's not even close.

“I always had stickers in my hair and grease under my fingernails,” she admits as she laughs about her small-town, country-girl childhood. “That's just the way I was raised. I just had to pull the top-end off my motor by myself, in fact. I had people on the phone helping, but I did the hands-on work myself. I had to pull my heads and make sure everything was alright. I'm not scared to dive in, that's part of it.”

When Hatcher suits up, grabs her helmet and gets ready to compete, she straps into a vintage machine.

“I have a 2007 HDR chassis from up near Elk City, Oklahoma,” she explained. “They don't build them any more, so it's a little obsolete. They were only in operation for five to seven years I believe. So she's a little old, but so am I. We just put our heads together and go. Old car, old driver, it's a perfect fit.”

What's cool about Hatcher is that she is an ideal role model for young girls across the Deep South who may be considering getting into short track racing. Her personality, never-quit attitude and kindness to all fans allows her to interact in a way few drivers can match. Her Ugly Girl racing program is moving.

“I got out of a hurtful relationship where I was told I was ugly and that nobody would ever want me,” she said with raw emotion. “It hurt, but I didn't let it drag me down. I needed a pick-me-up. So I saw this old race car, and she was ugly, too. But we both cleaned up real good; I'm proving them all wrong.

“If I ever influence a girl or even a woman my age to give racing a try, I would be proud. I know they can do it if they apply themselves. I jumped in there with the guys and am loving it. They can do it, too, if they get with the right people and have that positive attitude. After all, life is all about attitude.”

Along with her raw natural talent and that vintage yet-still-competitive 2007 Sport Mod, Hatcher also has several key people behind the scenes who've guided her in this successful transition to open-wheel.

“I need to start by giving a special thanks to my kids, Joshua and Abby; my parents, Ronnie and Susie, and my uncles, Terry and Jerry Hatcher. I also need to thank Matt Rust, Keyton Rust, Chad Reid, Dwight and Sam Cox, Jason Ingalls, Larry Dean, James Farmer, Trey, Michael, and John Frie; Timmy Johnson, Rodell Ro Epps, Larry Craig and Kelly Terry. The help they all provide is pricless to me.

“I'm also blessed with some great sponsors, including Jim Gress-Gress Motorsports and Shock Service, Richard Shinnel-Big P Motorsports, Eddie Wilson-Wichita Salvage, Myrons Hydro, Payton Zentgraf-KP Customs, Flying K Motorsports, Hatcher Electric, Tribe Nutrition, Rad-Rides.Com, On Another Level Designs, the Blazin' and Buzzin' Morning Show, C&C Racing, LAD Racing Photography, Pics By Dalton and Sittin’ Sidewayz Racing. I thank each one and couldn't do this without them all.”

Next year, it's all guns blazing for the high-profile gal with more determination than can be described.

“I've been offered another chassis, but I think I'm going to keep my old girl, ” Hatcher concluded. “I'm going to get her all updated, put another body on her and give it another shot. I have a partner in crime, Matt Rust, who will race my car once in a while. I want to help him, since he helps me so much.

“Me and the Ugly Girl race team are going to set them on fire next year. And we're gonna have a blast.”

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