Hoosier sisters have dirt track racing in their blood
Aubrey Eagan wipes the dirt off her face with one hand and clutches a tall, chain-link fence with the other.
Her face, illuminated by beaming fluorescent stadium lights, pans left to right following the roar of engines.
The voice of the announcer blares through the loudspeaker, and cheers erupt from the crowd. Aubrey is at a race track, but this isn’t a story about racing; this is a story about sisters.
Aubrey, 21, and her sister Allie, 16, of Bedford, were born to race on dirt ovals.
They grew up accompanying their dad, longtime racer Dave Eagan, to the Brownstown Speedway on Saturdays. Aubrey even raced against him for a few years. It took a while, but after seeing Aubrey enjoy the ups and downs of the sport, Allie joined her older sister on the track. Now they’re inseparable. Aubrey races in the Super Stock class; Allie drives Pure Stock.
“When we’re not racing, we’re in the garage,” Allie said. On Sundays after race day, they wash their cars. On the weeknights, they’re fixing their cars. On Saturdays, they're back at a Southern Indiana speedway, racing their cars again.
Their bedrooms are adorned with racing trophies, medals and mementos. Allie has a sticker from one of her old cars, and Aubrey kept a journal entry titled “A Day at the Race Track” that she wrote in the third grade.
The pair even met their boyfriends through racing.
“I thought if I brought my girls to the race track, they’d stay away from boys,” Dave Eagan said, chuckling. “Now look how that turned out.”
Despite having so much in common, Aubrey and Allie have different racing styles.
"Giving each other driving advice? Yeah, we don't do that!" Aubrey said with a grin. Allie says Aubrey will give her tips, but only when she asks for them.
Aubrey drives a little smoother; Allie can be a little more aggressive.
"I have to tell myself 'be patient, slow down, take your time,' " Allie said. Sometimes Allie wishes she had Aubrey's patience and control. She's even got a piece of duct tape next to her steering wheel that reads "Patience" with a sticker of Aubrey's blue racing No. 4 below it.
They may race differently, but they get the same adrenaline rush. For them, getting out on the racetrack every weekend is “like a drug.” Their father says, “We’re crazy, aren’t we?”
But to the Eagans, the sport is about much more than the rush. It’s about family.
“Our parents are just happy that they get to spend every weekend with us,” Aubrey said. “How many parents of teenagers get to do that?”
The sport has brought the sisters closer, too. Separated by a five-year age gap, they didn’t get along well as children, but are each others’ cheerleaders now. For Aubrey, it means a special role as both older sister and racing mentor.
“I kinda feel like she can look up to me. She can come to me with questions if she has them,” Aubrey said. “Maybe it’s something I’ve experienced, maybe it’s not, maybe I can just give her my opinion.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else as a sister.”
Allie shares the sentiment: “We’re like two peas in a pod!” she said with a laugh.
After watching Allie come to a sixth-place finish and pull off the track, Aubrey heads back to her orange-and-blue car. It’s her turn to race, and she’s starting on the pole. She leans up against the car and fist-bumps her sister. She looks a little nervous, too. Allie senses that and this time it’s little sister’s turn to give advice.
“Just have fun, that's what I did,” said Allie matter-of-factly, as Aubrey finishes off a CapriSun juice box and gets her helmet on, ready to race.