When Hailie Deegan makes her Ford Performance competition debut next week in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway, she’ll be doing it in a throwback paint scheme of a Ford IMSA star that helped pave the way for women in racing.
Ford Performance unveiled the paint scheme today for the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 that will be driven by Deegan and co-driver Chase Briscoe in the four-hour event on Friday, Jan. 24.
The red, white and blue paint scheme is a modern throwback to the Roush Racing Mustang IMSA GTO car driven by Lyn St. James in her breakout season of 1985, when she captured three victories, including the first IMSA GT win by a woman driving solo.
“We’re certainly excited to have Hailie officially kick off her competition career with Ford,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance.
“She had a great test a couple weeks ago and the pairing with Chase is ideal since he was in her shoes as a sports car rookie just a couple of years back and the experience has made him a more complete racer.
“To have the two of them in a Mustang GT4 with a Lyn St. James throwback scheme is very appropriate. Lyn was a pioneer for women in racing, a winner on the track and a great Ford spokesperson for many years, so this is a bit of a tribute to her and her contributions to our Ford sports car programs in the past.”
Deegan added: “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of this Mustang. My anticipation and excitement level was already sky high, making my debut for Ford in my first ever road race in IMSA, but now we add this cool throwback scheme honoring the only woman to win a major IMSA race solo and it is just that much cooler.
“I have a ton of respect and admiration for what Lyn St. James did to pave the road for racers like me. It will be really cool to drive a car inspired by her 1985 IMSA GTO Ford Mustang.”
St. James captured six IMSA GTO wins in her career, all with Ford, including two GTO class wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. She also competed in Indy car, including seven starts at the Indianapolis 500.
She was a consumer advisor for Ford Motor Company from 1981-96, and has been a tireless ambassador for women in sports, especially auto racing.
“I’m delighted that Ford is doing this throwback scheme,” said St. James. “The whole goal of every race driver is to win races, and going into that 1985 season I was on the cusp of winning, and to get my first three IMSA wins that year really meant so much to me because they say that once you win once, the others follow, and that was true for me.
“I am certain Hailie and Chase felt the same way after winning their first stock car races. You just want to win more. Sports car racing may be different than what they normally do, but the mindset is the same. I am excited to see them race and get to the winner’s circle.”