Chance encounter leads Haase to focus on racing

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

McKenna Haase is a young Sprint Car driver from Iowa. It was a chance encounter that helped start her dreams in racing.

When she met Kasey Kahne, her dreams changed to focus on racing.

Driver McKenna Haase in her 360 Sprint Car on the track
McKenna Haase in her 360 Sprint Car on the track (Photo by McKenna Haase)

“I met a NASCAR driver in a shopping mall when I was on vacation with my family when I was younger,” she said. “Then, my cousin got involved with racing on dirt. I followed that path and I went to go kart racing when I was 13.”

She is now a 360 division racer, who also operates her own team.

“Nowadays, it’s not as tough as it was when I was in school [she attended Drake University],” Haase said. “During the week, I work on sponsorship acquisition — and whatever my sponsors need. Honestly, I never thought I would go further than go karts to be honest with you. As far as owning my own team goes, I never thought I would have the connections to be able to have the sponsors to be able to do that, but I built it up over time.”

In addition to operating her own team, she also has established a driver development program. It is called Compass Racing Development LLC.

She said presently, there are seven drivers in the program. Plus, her company also helps kids with safety gear.

“My driver development program is called Compass Racing Development — and it basically started out as me just trying to give out an opportunity to a kid to race,” Haase said. “We started with one kid, and now, we’ve probably had about 15 kids come through the program. We mentor them in business life and racing.”

When Haase is competing, she gets to compete at the home of the famous Knoxville Nationals. She competes at Knoxville Raceway on a regular basis.

The track is approx. 47 minutes away from where she grew up in Des Moines, Iowa.

“It’s pretty awesome,” she said. “At Knoxville, it’s pretty much the best of the best even on a weekly basis. It’s nice knowing that you have the best competition and having the opportunity to race at one of the best race tracks. That obviously makes you a much better driver.”

She also made history, as she became the first female feature winner at the track in more than 100 years.

“It’s definitely been amazing, but at the same time, it’s a huge honor,” she said. “I’m always setting new goals and trying to accomplish them. I’m always trying to accomplish new things beyond that.”

When she won that race, it also changed her life.

“It definitely helped me get new sponsors,” Haase said. “At the same time, it helped get my name out there in the racing world.”

Besides winning that feature at Knoxville Raceway to achieve a huge accomplishment, she now has several Knoxville wins. She was also named the 305 Sprints Knoxville Raceway rookie in 2014.

She also was named the Junior Fan Club Driver of the Year the last four years.

“Definitely,” she said. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve been blessed to win the Jr. Fan Club Driver of the Year a few years in a row now. I really like the fans, so that was an honor. It was also pretty cool to break the track record last year, too.”

With her operation, it is very important that Haase’s team is built on Honesty, Excellence, and Integrity. It is important to her to also putting her sponsors first.

“That’s important to me, because a lot of other drivers do things that I wouldn’t want my development kids seeing me doing,”Haase said. “That would make me a bad role model. I want to have the strongest values as possible. Everybody is not perfect, but I want us to try to be the best people we can be.”

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