by Jenna Prather
Harli White from Lindsay, Oklahoma is a 23 year old 360 race car driver of the 17w. Harli has been a racer for eleven years this season.
"I've always been interested in racing," She says. "My grandpa raced, my dad raced; it was kinda in the family so I helped them work on their cars and stuff, but I didn't get into racing until I was a little bit older than most. I started racing when I was twelve but, it was always an interest and I always enjoyed it. I went every weekend and I didn't really know what else to do besideds race.
"I didn't really know that kids could race until I went to a race with my dad and saw some kids racing some mini sprints and I thought that was cool so that's how I got started."
Sprint cars weren't ever really in her mind. She was always around modifieds and stock cars and things like that that were on dirt and she didn't even know a sprint car existed until her dad raced when some sprint cars were at the track.
Nowadays, without a home track, Harli travels from racetrack to racetrack with her only crew man, Ryan Beechler, that has been joining her on her journey for about two years now.
"We've had a few other crew guys now and then, but they tend to get bored and move on to the next person. Which I don't blame them, I get that it can get boring seeing the same person everday, but Ryan does a great job. He does everything from driving the truck to all the car maintance ,I mean, everything. So, it's just us two and our husky, Ruby, she doesn't do much, she can't work on the car, but she keeps us company."
"I've always said that I don't really have, like, somebody I look up to as a driver. I kind of look up to them all, in a sense and I kind of pick what the drivers do that I'm like 'oh, I admire them for doing that', you know, I don't have one single person that I just admire like a 100%, besides my hero, Donnie Ray, but as far as like existing racers to this day, they all have a unique way of how they drive or how they go about doing things like with the fans or business related things. I just, kind of, pick what I like about every driver and try to put that into my part of racing."
"My life away from racing is pretty basic, I just go home and work on the car as racing is my living so, whenever I'm home I just take care of things racing related and hang out with my family. I have two nephews that keep me busy and I enjoy my time with them. We do a lot of family stuff like cookouts or going to church or doing regular family things; we find stuff to do. There's tons of stuff to do and most of it is with my family."
After spending eleven years of her life dedicated to racing, Harli has put the whole 'woman' thing behind her, in a sense. "I know a lot of women have a lot of strong beliefs about women in racing and, you know, think that they get treated differently, which, I mean, I have in some sense, but I don't want to be remembered as a woman racer, I just want to be remembered as another racer. I don't use the whole 'woman card', I guess you could say. I don't want to be treated any differently, I want to be treated the same as any other driver.
"And you have to earn the respect, whether you're male or female, in my eyes. So, I try to earn the respect and then try to race just as hard as they wanna race. Then again, there are some guys who just can't put it passed them and get an ego about it. There comes times to where you can tell they're driving me a little harder than they would a male or whoever.
"Being a female just makes you work harder and you have to be a little bit stronger than most people to be out here in a man's sport, but it's something I've always just put in the back of my mind and I guess I'm just used to it now. So, I guess I could say I'm kind of veteran as far as women in racing goes at this point, but I don't define myself as a woman in racing; I'm a racer. That's my thoughts on the issue."
Harli has been participating in the 360s Nationals at Knoxville Raceway and she goes into it just trying to do her best. "We don't come here near enough to really know what we're capable of. We don't time trial ever, we come here and time trial once a year; it's really tough to do. My goals are just to be in the main show at the end of the night. Of course, I've always had big goals and big dreams, but you're small goals are important. Whether it's at the Chili Bowl or a regular Saturday night show or Knoxville Nationals, I just have the same goal: get through every race and stay clear and go forwards."
At this point, Harli plans on only running the 360 Nationals, but she is trying to get the funds for a 410 engine to race the 410 Knoxville Nationals. So, if you're looking to help out a racer in the 410 Nationals she would greatly appreciate it.
Best of luck to Harli competing on the last night of the 360 Nationals. If you get a chance, stop by and welcome her to the Knoxville Nationals.