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Sprint Car's McKenna Haase Driven to Finish the Race!

McKenna Haase has picked a daring profession, saying, “Race car driving is like riding a bull. Just trying to control something that is kind of uncontrollable, like 950 horsepower roughly on a 1400-pound frame. Just those extreme forces, now try and drive the roller coaster.”

The Sprint Car driver’s first win was as a 14-year old, but her young success hasn’t created what her Haase-rhyming nickname – “Sassy” – might suggest! McKenna says, “I was probably one of the least likely candidates to be doing what I'm doing. And you just know that God's trying to use that for good.”

McKenna’s fast track to a racing obsession began with a random meeting. She recalls, “I was on vacation with my family in third grade, we went out to eat at a shopping mall and there was a famous NASCAR driver there signing autographs and I became a huge fan of his and a huge fan of NASCAR after that. And that's where my passion for racing began.”  

McKenna became the first female to win at the Knoxville Speedway, the Sprint Car Capital of the World. The Iowa native doubles as her own marketer, recruiting sponsors, describing her approach, “I'm just honest and I try to be raw and real about who I am and what I'm doing and and why that's beneficial for them too. It's really about the relationship and the partnership that grows over time. The business was just clearly a part of my life from the time I was little and kind of a gift from God that I've always been passionate about. I always loved selling.”

Her business sense isn’t the only trait that makes McKenna unique in her sport. McKenna explains, “If you're the only female in a sea of thousands of men? My gender has by far created uh the biggest challenges that I faced throughout my career and continues to. I think it comes down to just including God in that matter and letting Him lead it.”

McKenna’s rare attributes match Sprint Car’s distinct style! McKenna describes, “it's such short, quick, fast, intense racing. Sprint cars can get around a half-mile track in 14, 15 seconds. We race on dirt and as the dirt starts to slick off, now you have cars going 140 miles an hour essentially on ice, with 24 other cars around you. A racecar is a machine and it's an animal and it's working against you and your goal is to get it to work for you! So I think that’s the greatest satisfaction, flirting with the danger too, in order to succeed.” 

The flirt with danger comes with the territory of racing. McKenna remembers, “I had a really bad crash trying to pass for the lead. And I flipped like six times and my helmet came off. And after that crash, I always had this vision of Jesus in my cockpit covering my head as I was flipping. That was really when I started just praying a lot and I got involved in a college ministry and that absolutely transformed my life and it really opened my eyes to God.” 

On the dashboard of McKenna’s car, is a prayer she recites prior to the race’s start, it reads, “Lord, I pray as I race today, keep me safe along the way. Not only me but the others too, performing the jobs they do. I know, God, that in a race, I, the driver, must set the pace. But in this race of life I pray, help me, Lord, along the way.” 

McKenna continues to merge the life she lives to the profession she chooses, confronting her convictions against the potential of awaiting fear. “Coming to terms with death on the racetrack, but still live in freedom because you know, A - what's on the other side of that line, and B - you know that you have a Savior that knows exactly when you're going there. God literally controls the wheel, right,” McKenna emphatically states, “and so many of my wrecks, I didn't walk away because I should have, or because it made sense, I walked away because God wanted me to walk away. And for me, I would rather lead a life of significance than a life of length as it pertains to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

McKenna owns and runs Compass Racing Development, a program preparing young drivers to make educated and professional impact in the racecar industry! McKenna says, “I believe that you shouldn't wait to give back. You shouldn't only uh limit your love to certain people, to certain environments. Uh, God calls us to treat everybody like family, and I try to love those kids and my fans and everybody around me, like they are family. Acts 20:24 says, ‘My life is worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me. The task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.’  My whole life in one verse! My life is worth nothing to me! My only aim is to finish the race. What you do on this earth matters! I want to lead people to Christ, like that's why I'm here. I want to be a light wherever God has me planted on earth. It matters when you get to heaven.”

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