Haley Constance, 17, is among the top contenders at Saturday’s Mark Galloway Shootout at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Haley Constance, 17, is among the top contenders at Saturday’s Mark Galloway Shootout at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Haley Constance, 17, becoming a force at Evergreen Speedway

The Snohomish High School senior-to-be is a top contender at Saturday’s Mark Galloway Shootout.

Haley Constance was just 4 years old the first time she was behind the driver’s wheel of a motor vehicle, when her dad, Joe, put her in the seat of a battery-operated Power Wheels car.

About a year later Constance was racing go-karts on indoor dirt tracks, determined to go faster so she could keep up with the older kids.

By the time she was 9 she was already a multi-champion, having won points titles in both go-karts and sprint cars,

So while it may seem unusual for a 17-year-old girl to be among the contenders at the Mark Galloway Shootout, one of the region’s premier Pro Late Model races which takes place Saturday at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, it’s just part of the natural progression for Constance.

“Racing is my thing,” said Constance, who just finished up her junior year at Snohomish High School. “I used to play other sports, I was into volleyball for a while, but then racing took over. It’s where my heart is.”

“It’s awesome, I love it,” Joe Constance, who’s a racer himself, said about what it’s like watching as a parent. “I still drive myself a little bit, but I think I have more fun watching her race.”

While most of Constance’s classmates are just getting started with their driving adventure, she’s been at it for more than a decade. Her accomplishments include winning Junior Sprints championships at Deming Speedway in Everson and dominating the Youth Hornets division at Evergreen Speedway. Last year she moved up to Pro Late Models, which is the top classification at Evergreen, and finished sixth in the points standings.

This year Constance has been right in the thick of things in the Pro Late Model division. The rainy spring conditions mean just two Pro Late Model races have been completed, and Constance finished third in one of those and led laps in the other before her car experienced electrical issues. She’s currently fifth in the points standings.

“We said we’re going to try to win a race this year, and I feel like we’re real close,” Joe Constance said. “We’ve been leading laps and running up front wherever we go. We just need more racing, we haven’t been able to race that much (because of the weather).”

While Constance comes from a racing family, giving her exposure to the sport, the passion for racing is all her own. Constance’s siblings were also put into cars at a young age, but she was the one who took to it the most.

“As soon as I was in my first Power Wheel I wanted to go faster,” Constance recalled.

“Haley always loved racing, and she had the raw talent,” Joe Constance said. “Haley is the one who would listen intently and try to figure out what I was saying. If I told her to open up on the entry or pick up the throttle sooner, she would go out and do it. It helped her progress.”

Last season Constance and her dad decided it was time to make the jump to Evergreen’s premier class. Constance had excelled in Evergreen’t Junior Late Model class, but the class was discontinued because of low participation numbers. So it was time to test her mettle against the adults.

“It was definitely a little bit intimidating,” Constance said. “I’m thankful for the Junior Late Model class, which gave me experience in what is basically the same car.

“Last season I just wanted to finish races, get a couple top fives and gain respect as a driver,” Constance added. “I think it went pretty well. I learned a lot, I grew in confidence and now I realize I can be a top car.”

So what does Constance think about her chances at the Galloway Shootout? Last year she finished 14th behind champion Naima Lang. She then took a step forward at the other big race of the year, finishing 11th in the Pro Late Model portion of Summer Showdown, which was won by Preston Peltier.

“Obviously everybody goes into a big race wanting to win, but I’ll be happy with a podium finish and keeping the car in one piece,” Constance said. “On such a big track (the Galloway Shootout is on Evergreen’s 5/8-mile track) and at those speeds I want to keep the car together, especially with a lot of big races coming up. So a top-three finish is my goal.”

Couture to serve as grand marshal

Mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture will serve as grand marshal at the Galloway Shootout. The Lynnwood High School graduate is a three-time UFC heavyweight champion and a member of the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame. Couture will also be raising money for his Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation, which provides assistance for combat veterans returning to civilian life.

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