When Olivia Haworth made her journey into the world of Micro Sprint racecars, she was making a name for herself as a competitive, determined racer at age 15 in 2019. The Langhorne, Pennsylvania native was wide eyed, focused and passionate about her efforts as a 125cc Micro Sprint competitor.
In the past four years, Haworth has graduated from high school while sharpening her knives even more as a relentless, cagey racer on the dirt tracks. Clearly, racing is Haworth’s life as she has pursued her dreams in the motorsports world for almost the past decade.
At age 19, Haworth may be a mature, disciplined racer but she still has her youthful spirit and spunk. She does not secede to her rivals when they want to challenge her, opting to hold her own and prove her worth and place as a formidable, front running competitor in her field.
Winning a track championship in the 125cc Micro Sprint class in 2019, Haworth graduated up to 600cc Micro Sprint cars, the highest level of this particular discipline of racing. After some tough times making the leap to this class, Haworth has proven herself as a tenacious, smart and winning racer.
In early September, Haworth won a feature at Sprint Auto Center Speedway in Swedesboro, New Jersey. All in all, Haworth, driver of the No. 44 The Race Shack LLC/Paint by Steve 600cc Micro Sprint, proved that she can get the job done while capturing the checkered flag.
Although Haworth is growing up and working her way up the racing ladder, she is still respectful, idealistic and as she would say, ‘an old soul.’ For a young driver born in 2004, Haworth may have an old school racer’s heart with her dedication, approach and love of auto racing.
Prior to the Winter Classics race weekend at Rockfish Speedway in Raeford, North Carolina, Haworth returned “In the Hot Seat” to talk about her journey since 2019, how the pandemic affected her efforts and her love of reading books. Now, let us catch up and get “In the Hot Seat” with Olivia Haworth here on The Podium Finish!
Rob Tiongson: Welcome back to a special edition of “In the Hot Seat.” I’m Rob Tiongson and it’s a really special edition of this segment because it’s one that we’ve been waiting to do for the last four years. Back in 2019 before COVID happened, I interviewed a very young but very sensational driver who was only 15.
Her name’s Olivia Haworth and well, I figured four years later, it’s a good time as any to bring her back. Life is a lot different for her because she’s still tearing it up on the dirt tracks, but she’s in a more powerful machine, to say the least.
Olivia, welcome back to the “Hot Seat.” How are you doing?
Olivia Haworth: I’m great. Thanks for having me back. It’s been a while, so it’s great to see your face again and catch up and kind of go over everything that’s been going on the past four years.
Tiongson: It is. It’s basically I’ve been waiting for, like, it’s like high school interval, I suppose. So, it’s like you’re in college now with me, I suppose, right?
Haworth: Pretty much. Yeah. I believe I was 14 or 15 the last time we talked and now I’m 19. So, it’s a big difference.
Tiongson: I would say so, but you’re still as kind and as sweet as you were back then. And I feel like I’m like a big brother to you in this case here.
Haworth: Yeah. Thank you.
Tiongson: Of course. It’s going to be so much fun to do this and I hope the fans find it as enjoyable as well. But for those people who are just learning about you for the first time, you were racing in 125cc at the time and now you’re in these really powerful machines. So, catch us up as to what you’ve been doing since 2019.
Haworth: Yeah. So last time we talked in 2019, I had just won the track championship in my 125cc micro sprint. After that, I moved up into a 270cc micro sprint. I kind of played around in that for about a year or two and decided that I wanted to take the jump into a 600 micro sprint, which is the top level for micro sprints.
And so, we got into that in 2021. And yeah, during that I actually won my first race only seven races into running that car. 2022 was kind of a slow season. But then in 2023, we had a pretty good season, I’d say.
Tiongson: I would say so because you won a race in September at Sprint Auto Center Speedway, which I know when I saw that picture of you on your Facebook page and you’re celebrating, I’m like, that is awesome. How validating was that moment for you?
Haworth: It was very validating. I’d say being a girl out in the field with all guys, I definitely feel like I can get pushed around sometimes. And to finally bring home a win for myself and my team, it felt like I proved myself to them and that I can contend with them and run with them, just like they run with each other. And it felt really good.
Tiongson: I’m glad you did because like you said, it can be a little tough in a male oriented sport. And I know when we talked the first time around, you were focused on saying, “Hey, the car doesn’t know what gender I am, I’m here to do my job.” And it seems like you’ve been doing such a great job at that. But is there still sometimes that struggle where some of the guys are hesitant or a little bit reluctant that you’re out there, you’re not just a female, but you’re a very formidable competitor as well?
Haworth: Yeah, definitely. I never like to say, “Oh, I’m a girl driver.” I always just wanted to say, “I’m a driver.” It doesn’t matter if I’m a girl or a boy. I just want to go out there and race with them, regardless of who I am as a person. And I definitely feel like the boys can be a little pushy.
They definitely aren’t as forgiving with me, I feel, because I’m a girl, and so going out there and winning that race, I definitely felt like it kind of proved to them that I can run with them just as well. And I definitely pushed back. I don’t let them just push me around. I definitely give it right back to them.
Tiongson: That’s good. You have to fight what you believe in and what you want to do, and you’ve been knocking on the door, honestly, for that victory. I know you had a lot of top five runs. I know Mother Nature was wreaking havoc in some cases. Racing in general, Olivia, can bring its ups and downs and frustrate you at times.
So how were you able to compartmentalize what you needed to do when you were feeling down? And how did you kind of balance the highs of racing so you weren’t too head above the clouds?
Haworth: Well, racing is probably the most unforgiving sport. When you’re up high, it’ll knock you down low as quick, as quick as that. And so, you just have to remind yourself, “Hey, this is a sport. It’s never going to go exactly how you want it to go every single time.” And taking notes has definitely helped.
I know when we have a bad night of racing, say, I went from having a really great night in the next week (and) I’m having more of a tough night, I just go through my notebook and take notes and write down what the car was doing, how I was doing as a driver and just being able to read through that and even get my thoughts out of my head. So, I release some anger. It definitely helps…. notes, (they’re) definitely helpful.
Tiongson: That’s really neat that you do that, and you have such a healthy outlet because in a way, you’re holding yourself accountable where some drivers often put the blame on someone else. I would imagine that there are times that sometimes you could be a little hard on yourself.
So are there times that when you write things down, you’re like, “Oh wait, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, but I obviously have to do a little bit better next time?”
Haworth: When it comes to car setup, definitely being able to look back at everything, we can see where things went wrong or where things went right. And then for myself personally, as the driver, I’m my worst critic. So just taking time to sit down with myself and relax and think more about what can I do out on the track to be more progressive and do better as a driver.
Tiongson: That’s always a great thing to do because it’s probably the hardest thing to do where you don’t want to, like, be too hard on yourself. But you obviously have to be like, okay, I got to be honest about how I’ve been faring because we all want to think we were doing the greatest we can. But you also don’t want to knock yourself so hard.
Like you said, racing’s so unforgiving. But if you’ve survived getting through the pandemic, I would say you belong for sure, because the one thing I’ve been curious about is how did the pandemic affect you and your racing efforts?
Haworth: Definitely. So, during the pandemic, I was in the 270 class, which is more of a smaller class in the micro sprint scene. When the pandemic came, everything kind of shut down, so we weren’t able to go to the track every Friday night, especially with the 270 since only a few tracks run them.
So that’s kind of where we made that decision, “Hey, let’s jump up to the 600 class because you can go very far with that. I mean, they’re racing everywhere in the country.”
And so honestly, in a way, the pandemic helped our team because it allowed us to move up into a bigger class. But of course, we definitely suffered a little bit at the beginning of the year.
Obviously with everything being shut down, the racetracks were shut down too. So, 270 wise it hurt us, but allowing us to make that jump to the 600 definitely helped us.
Tiongson: And it showed in a way that you’re ready for primetime because I would imagine for folks who don’t race, it’s basically like you’re going into the deeper end of the swimming pool, and then all of a sudden, you’re in the deepest end and you just had to adapt to it, right?
Haworth: Yep. Pretty much.
Tiongson: Oh goodness gracious. You’re really brave to do that. Because if it were me, I’d be folding like a leaf out there in the Northeast. So, I would say you have a lot of maturity, to say the least. The thing I’m impressed with you, Olivia, is that even back when you were 15, you were just so poised and mature with your career, your reflections on things.
And I’m just curious, what are some of the things you learned from when you were a teenager to now this young woman with life and racing that you feel has made your career in life better?
Haworth: Maturity wise, I raced with people that as old as my dad and have been racing longer than I’ve been alive, and I was always taught, if you want to race with these guys, you have to give them the respect that they give you.
So that definitely caused me to become more mature and racing wise and person wise. And then I’ve always just had an old soul and that’s just who I am as a person.
Tiongson: I love that you mentioned that you have a whole old soul, because that’s going to lead me to one of my later questions here. And that’s probably one of the reasons why we became such fast friends back then.
One thing I’ve always been curious about is that any kind of sprint car drivers are a different breed than those on the asphalt or even in the two wheeled kinds of vehicles. But I’m just curious what driver, past or present, would you say you are comparable to in terms of approach or just personality, or just the complete package?
Haworth: Oh, that’s definitely a tough one. I don’t want to go with a girl because I just don’t want to compare myself to other girls. I think we’ve all kind of made our mark in racing as a whole. Driver wise, I mean, I definitely have a sparky attitude towards racing. I’m very go for it.
So maybe you could compare me to Kyle Busch and because he’s very go, go get it. I take chances. I just go for it. Ask for forgiveness later, kind of in a way. But yeah, I’d definitely say I have some similarities to him. Just go out there and get as many positions as I can, learn as a driver, and do as good as I can for me and my team.
Tiongson: I love it. And “Rowdy” is certainly somebody who knows how to give it everything he has and doesn’t apologize for it, which he shouldn’t be. You need to be ruthless out there, right?
Haworth: Yes. Sometimes you have to. Obviously, good sportsmanship always. At the end of the day, I never want to take anybody out on purpose, run anyone the wrong way. But like I said, racing is unforgiving, and you got to go for it sometimes.
Tiongson: It’s basically like being a modern day gladiator. And if you’re a little too nice, you’re just going to get pushed over. But you don’t want to be too ruthless that people are going to not like you. You’re balancing things so well, Olivia. And I love how you’re doing things throughout your career.
A companion of yours that I know was around back in 2019 is your puppy, Winston. He’s not a puppy now, but I call dogs “puppies” because I have a puppy myself. What is it like to be a dog parent and bring Winston along with you to the races?
Haworth: Oh, he’s so awesome. He’s my best friend. We call him our crew chief now. My dad got knocked down. He goes everywhere with us. He loves going to the races and I honestly couldn’t do it without him.
He’s my little buddy. And it’s actually unfortunate. The night that I had won my first feature at Spirit Auto Raceway, he was not there. So, he missed out on the big win. But other than that, he’s always there and he’s right by my side. And I love the little the little dog to death.
Tiongson: Well, I hope he gets to be at your next one, because I know you still got plenty of racing to do and the season may be over, but what are some races that are on the calendar going into 2024?
Haworth: So, we actually have one more race this year. We’re going down to North Carolina this Friday for the Winter Classics at Rockfish Speedway. We’re missing out in Tulsa this year. Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to go, family comes first. So hopefully we get to Tulsa next year in 2024. That’s definitely one of the big races on our roster.
Other than that, we’ll travel around. We hit a lot of tracks in Pennsylvania. We got Action Track, Linda Speedway, Spirit Auto in New Jersey and there’s Greenwood Valley Action Track that’s in Pennsylvania as well. We kind of stay more local, but Tulsa is definitely our big race that we’re going to get to next year.
Tiongson: That’s really cool. And I was going to make a suggestion and say at Texas Motor Speedway to that list, because we have a certain dirt track event that goes on during the fall.
Haworth: Yeah, I’d love to travel around, just get out there and go to as many tracks as I can get to.
Tiongson: Micro Mania and you, I think you would be a big hit down here with all the drivers and the competition. It’s a fun event and you just never know who you might meet during those races too because. I think you can hold your own for sure.
Haworth: Thank you.
Tiongson: Of course. Now when you do have time to unwind, which I know the season is starting to kind of get to the quieter point of the season, but what are some of the things that you like to do to relax and decompress?
Haworth: Other than sitting out in the garage working on the car, I definitely watch some racing videos. I like to look back on my race season. My brain is constantly just going about racing, so I definitely keep up on that.
And then I like to read books. I’ve been getting into reading. I like painting kind of crafty things. Other than that, I’m just hanging out with my dog.
Tiongson: That’s so cool. And reading books, I feel like kids don’t even know what books are nowadays. So, the fact you’re say you’re an old soul, right?
Haworth: Yes. (smiles)
Tiongson: What book are you currently reading, by the way?
Haworth: I’m reading It Ends with Us. It’s a romance novel, which is very out of my ordinary. I’m more into mystery novels, so this is my new one at the moment.
Tiongson: Well, I like that you have a little bit of intrigue and a little bit of passion involved. I think you’re definitely heading towards the mature range. Maybe you’re the one that’s supposed to be my age. And I’m the teenager in this conversation.
Well, you did mention that you love stuff from the past, and, well, I’m a child of the 1980s. I know you’re not, but I recall the last time you talked about this. You said you love music from the 1980s. If you could travel back to my childhood decade, what bands or musicians would you want to see in concert?
Haworth: Oh, God. You know what? I really want to see Fleetwood Mac. I’m not too sure if they’re considered 80s, but that’s definitely been my jam lately. I’ve been listening to them a lot.
Other than that, I wouldn’t say I listen to particular bands, just like certain songs from the 80s. Since 2019, I’ve definitely come on over into more modern day country music, but definitely Fleetwood Mac. I don’t know what time period they’re from, but I’d definitely like to see them.
Tiongson: Yeah, they’re definitely 80s. I mean, not to bore you, but they were a late 60s to 90sish band. So yeah, you can catch them at a good decade, and you can’t argue with that.
Now, if you had the opportunity to build a racetrack anywhere around the world, Olivia, what kind of track would it be and where would it be?
Haworth: Definitely a dirt track. Circle dirt track, probably. Where would I put it? Honestly, I’d like to put a track like up north, maybe New York area. I’ve been venturing around out up there and there’s actually not that many tracks around, so maybe put something up there and then even down south down towards Florida. I know not too many tracks down there. Maybe put one down there.
Tiongson: That’s a good idea. Would it be a high thing kind of track or flat?
Haworth: I like long straightaways, bank turns. I love it, yeah, definitely the baker tracks. I definitely prefer the bigger tracks over the smaller tracks.
Tiongson: We need more of that. And so, I hope someone out there is listening to your idea, because if that’s the case, we can go back to this interview and I’ll say, “Hey, where’s the commission for Olivia?”
Now, do you have anything you want to say to your fans and our fans? I’m not going to wait another four years to do another interview.
Haworth: Thank you for following along my journey. The support, I mean, I couldn’t do it without fan support. They definitely play a big part in us getting to the track every week. And the support definitely helps me as a driver.
Just knowing that there’s people out there paying attention to what I’m doing and what my team is doing, it definitely helps out a lot. And even my sponsors too and everyone that goes into the racecar, without them, we wouldn’t be anything. So, I have to give a thanks to the fans and everyone else that helps out.
Tiongson: For sure. And I know that when this interview airs, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
So of course, I would be remiss if we don’t say Happy Thanksgiving to our loved ones as well.
Haworth: Yes, Happy Thanksgiving. That’s a great holiday, for sure.
Special thanks to Olivia Haworth for taking the time to talk ahead of this weekend’s Winter Classics at Rockfish Speedway in Raeford, North Carolina. Along with The Podium Finish, follow Olivia’s efforts on her official Facebook and Instagram accounts!