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Chance encounter leads to thriving race career for Tucson’s Jen Hall

When Tucson Speedway’s Jen Hall was just a little kid, she and her parents drove by a quarter-midget race track along the freeway in Arizona.

“We had passed it and we got to a stoplight and I said, ‘Hey, can we go back and look at those? They look really cool,’” she said.

The track was having an “arrive and drive” event where anyone could go and try out one of their cars.

“I got in and I was hooked,” Hall said. “It snowballed from there.”

In the nearly a decade since that day, the 18-year-old Hall has raced quarter-midgets, a hornet truck, and a pure stock Camaro on dirt before three years ago transitioning to asphalt at Tucson Speedway – a NASCAR-sanctioned .38-mile paved oval in Tucson, Arizona. Hall races in the track’s outlaw late model and thunder truck divisions.

Getting into racing came from a chance encounter, but Hall actually comes from a racing family. Both of her grandfathers raced, as did her dad, mom, and sister. Hall’s mom raced a dirt bomber, and her sister drag raced.

“It’s definitely a family affair,” Hall said.

Even though there was so much racing history in her family, Hall doesn’t really remember seeing any of it in person. Her dad was out of the sport by the time she got into a car. Her sister, who is 12 years old, was racing when Hall was very little, and she said she didn’t even know her mom raced until Hall herself got into the sport.

“It’s just not something I envisioned my mom doing,” she said with a laugh.

But having a family who understands the sport has helped her learn the car and have people in her corner who can help. Her dad helps get the car ready every week, her grandfather was heavily involved until he passed away, and her other grandparents will watch videos of her races and call every weekend to ask how she did.

Hall is currently fourth in the thunder trucks and seventh in the Outlaw Late Models points standings at Tucson Speedway.

Racing two different cars every week presents its own challenges for Hall, though after racing three cars last year she said it has been a bit easier. She’s become accustomed to the workload after racing in multiple divisions every year she’s been at Tucson.

While the physical toll is tough, the mental one is often tougher.

“It’s definitely more exhausting,” she said. “I have to make sure I eat something in between the races and I’m constantly drinking water because it’s physically taxing to be in two different cars. You don’t have a chance to cool off.

“Trying to transfer from one car to the other… If you can officially take off one cap and put on another, it’s really easy to get from one car to another but it definitely takes practice.”

Running two cars is a challenge in and of itself, but Hall said racing two different classes with very, very different driving styles and very different people in the cars is a challenge that adds to her love of the sport.

“I’m always up for a challenge. I’m very competitive, so it’s not just I want it. I like racing and I can’t get enough of it,” she said. “The speed and adrenaline definitely help.”

Hall will begin her freshman year at the University of Arizona in the fall, but she doesn’t plan to let college get in the way of her time on the track. Her school is in Tucson, very close to her home speedway. She said she’s fortunate to have a great pit crew and her dad is going to help keep her cars in top shape during the times when she can’t be in the garage.

“That’s going to be a definite challenge for me going to college and working on the car, but with my dad I believe I’ll be able to do it,” she said.

“Time wise, I don’t think there’s any classes on Saturdays and I’m definitely willing to sacrifice any studying time for racing.”

Tucson Speedway announced Tuesday it would suspend races for the next month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Racing is scheduled to return at the track in August.

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