How Pepper has become a teenage spice in off road racing
Story By: Savannah Rose
Photos by: Hali Pepper
The old adage is sugar and spice and everything nice. So when one of those spices is a sixteen year old named Pepper who is nabbing podiums on the race circuit, that Pepper is hot chili pepper.
Meet Hali Pepper Williams. Yes, Pepper is her given middle name, and perfectly explains why she has a huge chili pepper adorning her race car, and the latest featured driver in our Girls Ride Too series.
This department of the magazine is known to spotlight women who go against the grain of powersports – historically hailed as a “guys sport.” These girls aren’t afraid to put on their race face instead of makeup, and get dirty with the rest of ‘em.
Williams hails from Wildomar, California and currently competes in the Dirt Series and WORCS series racing her Polaris RZR 900. Hali decided to run in the women’s 1000cc class despite being a few cc’s short, and has already managed to nab a podium spot this year.
Hali was inspired to get behind the wheel and race by her father, Gary Williams. Gary raced for 20 plus years, competing in the Baja 1000 and also collecting a Vegas to Reno win.
At the young age of three, Hali was ripping around the yard on a mini three wheeler. At eight, she was in a Trophy Kart Jr class. As she got older, Hali moved up to an RZR 800 for the reliability factor where she raced and won two championships. In 2015, at age eleven, Hali was the youngest person in the 50 year history to race the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, where the race minimum age was fifteen.
Obviously, racing and winning runs in the family. Still, with youth comes lack of experience, but to be the best, you have to race and learn.
The first time Hali ever raced was in Trophy Kart Jr 1 at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park. As she crossed the finish line to the checkered flag, she just kept going. She had no idea she was supposed to pull off the track, so she made an entire extra lap!
As social media has become omnipresent into our lives, the accessibility for female role models has become greater. For Hali, Hailie Deegan is one such inspiration. For the last eight years, Hali has been an avid follower of Deegan and her path of working her way into NASCAR. When asked what Hali appreciates the most from Deegan, she states, “She is such a passionate driver. She never gives up, despite any hardships that come her way.”
If given the option of racing versus off road fun, Hali will take racing every time.
“There is an adrenaline rush that comes with sitting at the starting line of the track, waiting for that green flag to drop,” said Williams. “Anyone who’s ever participated in any race can definitely agree, that anticipation, and the thrill that comes with mashing the gas pedal is an incredible feeling. That, and the ability to meet amazing new friends and make so many memories at the track, there is nothing like it.”
Hali would be an expert on that since she has been on a racetrack since she was a newborn, while her dad raced. Like so many others will say, the family dynamic at races and events truly makes each track feel like a home away from home.
Even though she prefers races to casual driving, some of the bucket list places Hali would love to drive include Pismo Beach, in California. Beach dreams! Hali also noted she would also love to drive in the snow, perhaps in Utah or Colorado, to drive in some terrain she’s never seen before.
But since everyday cannot be raceday, when Hali isn’t in her RZR, she plays in her high school’s Marching and Concert bands and is a straight A student with an impressive GPA of 4.4!
As far as being a girl in a boys world of powersports, Hali told us, “The one struggle I encounter with being a girl in the UTV world is definitely being underestimated. As females, we are seen as inferior to the boys and seen as if we have less potential as them. I personally love being a girl in the racing industry because it’s amazing to show the boys up and show them who’s boss!”
Follow @pepperracing912 to see Hali Pepper Racing show everyone just how powerful she can be.