McKenna Haase, Mahaska and TYR Endurance Sport sponsored athlete, not only continues to prove her athletic abilities on the race track, but also continues to be a great inspiration. In our interview with McKenna, our goal was to find out more about her racing life as well as her life outside of her career. Get to know more about McKenna Haase below.
What initially peaked your interest about racing?
My interest in racing began when I started following NASCAR after meeting Kasey Kahne in a shopping mall in Tennessee while out to eat with my family on vacation. I also attended a micro sprint race with my grandparents in Oklahoma where I found that kids could race too, which began my search for racing in Iowa.
Do you remember your very first race? What was going through your mind?
My first race was exciting but very stressful. We bought the car at the end of the season and were barely able to catch the last couple races. I had a lot of people telling me what to do and the entire experience was new to my family, so I felt like there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I finished 2nd in my first heat race and was close to first which was a good start; I think I ended up 7th in the feature that night. It was a good first night but I think I had tears in my eyes on the way home from all the stress and pressure a first race brings. After we got the hang of things and started getting used to a new lifestyle, I got more comfortable, the wins started coming, and the rest is history.
Do you have any pre-race rituals? If so, what are they?
I have many pre-race rituals because I’m pretty superstitious. My mom always does my hair a certain way on raceday with a braid and a lucky bow to keep it out of my face under my helmet. I like to listen to certain music before I race and sometimes have different playlists for different tracks. When I’m getting ready to race, I have to put my gloves on a certain way for good luck. Lastly, before I go out on the track, I always make sure to read the Racer’s Prayer on the inside of my cockpit.
What does a day in your shoes look like?
This really depends on the time of year (especially if I’m in school or not) but typically I work out in the morning to prepare for my next race. Sometimes this is at school with one of our sports teams or sometimes on my own. No matter where I am or what kind of practice it is, I always make sure to have a bottle (or two) of TYR Endurance Sport with me to keep me hydrated and ready to perform. Even though we race on the weekends, during the week there is a lot of office work that needs to be done. I make phone calls, have meetings, respond to e-mails, process merchandise/autograph orders, etc. This part takes a lot of my time, but when I’m not doing this, I’m almost always in the shop working on some kind of racecar. I love wrenching almost as much as racing and try to work on the cars as much as possible. From the office, to the shop, to the gym, to the track, racing is a full time business, but it’s an amazing opportunity and community to be a part of.
What do you do to balance your personal and professional parts of your life?
Almost everything I do involves racing in some way, and I don’t get to spend time with friends and do things ‘normal’ teenagers do all that often. However, I try to schedule time to spend with my closest friends or do something fun outside of racing as much as possible.
What is your ultimate goal for your career in racing?
My long term dream would be to travel with the World of Outlaws sprint car series. However, I mostly just want to race professionally wherever that might take me, but my first choice is sprint cars on dirt.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to race, where would it be?
Australia! Australia and New Zealand are the top two countries outside the US when it comes to sprint car racing, and many of our drivers go there to race during their summer and vice versa for ours. Many young American sprint car racers dream of going over there in the winter for the first time, and I think it would be so neat to go to some of their famous races and meet so many new people.
What are you most excited for when you think about moving to college?
When I think about college, I’m most excited about receiving a great education and new opportunities through the people I will meet and the things I will learn. I’m also excited to apply what I learn to the racing world to help grow the sport through advancements in technology and business.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Ten years seems like a long time since I’ve only been racing for five and have already experienced so much in the sport. However, I hope to have finished my education by then and be racing for a living. I also hope to be using my degree in the sport somehow.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of racing?
My favorite thing to do outside of racing is martial arts. I’ve been doing martial arts as long as I’ve been racing and love it! Even when I can’t make it to practice or tournaments because of my busy racing schedule, I always try to practice with my weapons or forms to stay in shape.
What’s something no one would guess about you?
At first glance most people probably wouldn’t believe I’m a second degree black belt (and if they really don’t know me, a racecar driver), but for those that do know these things about me, they probably wouldn’t guess that my favorite color is pink!
Name one thing on your bucket list that you would like to do at least once in your life.
I’ve already been blessed with so much that I don’t know how I could think of anything more to ask for. I guess meeting Warren Buffett is definitely something I’ve always dreamed of, but beyond this I guess I would just love to go to as many race tracks as possible.
What is your favorite flavor of TYR Endurance Sport?
Limao! I enjoy all flavors of TYR ES and my favorite used to be punch, but for some reason this summer I’ve fallen in love with the lemon-lime sweetness of Limao.
We ask this to all the Mahaska employees, and since you are also from the Midwest, we thought this would be a good question for you as well 🙂
How would you describe Midwest Values?
One of my favorite quotes is, “Bloom where your roots are planted,” and I don’t think there is a better way to describe Midwest values. I’m a firm believer of being proud of where you come from and the things you surround yourself with because I believe that ultimately makes you who you are. If you aren’t proud of where you come from, you aren’t proud of yourself, and I’m very proud to live in the Midwest 🙂
A big thank you to McKenna for taking the time to answer these questions. For more on McKenna, read our very first blog about her here!