15 Jan Breaking Down Barriers, Setting Records, and Winning Big!, with McKenna Haase
My guest is McKenna Hasse. Mckenna is a 21 year old race car driver from my town, Des Moines, Iowa. She primarily races at the Knoxville raceway, which is known as the Sprint Car Capital of the World.
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Now, get this, Mckenna is Knoxville’s first and only female feature winner in over 100 years. She’s got this incredible record and she’s got her sights on NASCAR!. And her driving career is impressive in and of itself. But her record off the track is really what grabbed my attention. Again, did I mention she’s 21? And she owns and operates her own sprint car team, which is a business, it’s got to be in order to make this thing happen. So she’s doing that.
She also operates her own youth driver development program called Compass Racing Development LLC. So cool. She’s a business student at Drake University where she’s involved with a number of organizations ranging from the Drake Investment Club, to the Drake American Marketing Association, to the fellowship of Christian athletes.
And as you hear from her, she is awesome and energetic and fun, but you should know she’s also tougher than crap. In addition to driving a sprint car, she also has a second degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, and she does some Ninja Warrior training and gymnastics to boot.
So she’s gotten so much done in a short period of time, and I think once you hear from her, you’ll hear why. But I think she’s just getting started. And I wanted to have her on, especially since we’re celebrating the beginning of the year, we’re busting into 2019, we’re all committed to making this our best year ever, I just wanted you to hear from more people like Mckenna.
So let’s get to this.
Mitch Matthews: Mckenna Haase welcome to Dream.Think.Do.
Mckenna Haase: Thank you for having me.
Mitch Matthews: So I’ve been inspired by your story from afar for a while, and I’ve got so many questions for you. But just to kind of help Dream.Think.Doers from all over the world who maybe aren’t familiar with sprint cars, give us a little explanation of sprint cars versus like a NASCAR car.
Mckenna Haase: So sprint car racing is open wheel, open cockpit, and so it kind of looks like an Indy car, but the cage’s a little bit taller and there’s wings on top. And one on the top, that’s really big, and then one smaller one on the front to help weigh it down for us.
Mitch Matthews: We should just explain that. The wings aren’t to make you fly, it’s because you’re going so fast, you could fly, the wings are actually meant to keep you on the track, right?
Mckenna Haase: Yes, exactly.
Mitch Matthews: Exactly.
Mckenna Haase: And then they weigh about 1500 pounds or so, which is about like half the way of a normal vehicle. And then they have anywhere from 500 to 900 horsepower depending on what class you’re in, which can range in speeds of 100 to 150 miles an hour.
Mitch Matthews: So you’re basically strapped into a rocket that is open. You’ve got a cage around you and stuff, but it’s open. It’s just got to be the adrenaline rush. Plus, you’re on a track that’s basically a mud track, but if I understand sprint cars, the longer the evening goes, the more races, the more the track basically becomes like ice, like driving on patches of ice?
Mckenna Haase: Exactly. And the tracks are a lot shorter than NASCAR tracks.
Mitch Matthews: Yeah. How short are they? What’s the distance around in Knoxville?
Mckenna Haase: Knox is the largest, or one of the largest sprint car tracks in the world. It’s a half mile on the inside of the track and then the smaller tracks can go down to a quarter mile.
Mitch Matthews: And is that tougher? Like is the smaller track tougher because you’re just constantly turning, or?
Mckenna Haase: Well, we turned right to go left because our cars drift, and so we’re actually on certain tracks like early in the night, we’re full throttle. So like we don’t lift or break around a quarter mile, and then we don’t lift or break around the half mile. So it is just the way the car is set up.
Mitch Matthews: You don’t lift or break, what does that even mean?
Mckenna Haase: We just spit the throttle to the floor and that’s it. Hope it sticks.
Mitch Matthews: So you’re 21, you started this at 13. Did I read that right?
Mckenna Haase: Yes.
Mitch Matthews: And what inspired that? I know there’s a lot of 13 year olds that are inspired by a lot of things, but to get out on a track, holy cow. Walk me through that. What made you say, “This is something I want to do as a 13 year old?”
Mckenna Haase: Well, it started when I was nine. I met NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahne in a shopping mall. And I was just on vacation with my family, and I met Kasey and he came to race at Iowa Speedway. And so I went to go watch Kasey. And then at the same time, one of my cousins started racing a little sprint cars down in Oklahoma, so I went in and watched that and I found out that kids could race. And then I took that back to Iowa and started racing at a recreational go karting track called Slideways in Knoxville.
Mckenna Haase: I did that for a couple of years, and ran in the men’s league there when I was 11 and 12. And then when I was 12, I found a track, kind of like my cousin’s, but in Knoxville called English Creek Speedway. So I started going to English Creek as a fan when I was 12. And then on one of the final races of the year, they let me get in one of the cars, and I went probably over 40 laps and ran the car out of gas. And then I’d been saving up my money, and I give my dad $800 and worked on getting some sponsors to help pay for the rest. So we got the car when I was 12, and then my rookie year was when I was 13, which is actually relatively old and racing, just like any other sport.
Mckenna Haase: Like if you want to be a professional, you’re going to have to start when you’re … you don’t have to, but a lot of people start when they’re really little and kind of work their way up the levels. And so to start when you’re a teenager is actually in some ways a little bit late.
Mitch Matthews: Wow, that’s amazing. Let’s talk about being a girl. Were there other girls starting at the same time? For you to be the only one to win at Knoxville, the only woman to win at Knoxville in over 100 years. Has that kind of been the odd you’ve been up against most of your career?
Mckenna Haase: Actually in the beginning, I didn’t really understand what all the talk was about because I would get that a lot, like, “Wow, that must be so hard in a male dominated sport.” And then when I was like 13, 14, I kind of thought that was overrated because there was a lot of girls racing at that level and I felt equally respected and like the competition was fair. But every level I had moved up to after that, it got … Like at this point in my career, I figured out what they were talking about. It definitely started, the gender difference really, really showed once I turned like 18, 19, 20, 21 in that range.
Mckenna Haase: It became much more obvious and not only on the track, every level I moved up to, I think that you really had to earn your respect at every level, but to really gain the respect of the higher levels … And I understand it from my competitors’ standpoints, they didn’t want girls getting credit just for being girls, they wanted them to prove it on the track. The record was pretty cool. I think in the racing community, we’ve all heard about it so much and it’s been talked about it a lot to where it’s just kind of something that happened now, but I was thinking the other day like, “Really, someday we’re going to probably look back and that’s really when you’re going to cherish it, I guess, or to know that that was so historical.” I think it’s hard to understand history sometimes in the present.
Mitch Matthews: Right, when we’re in the middle of it.
Mckenna Haase: Yeah. But I think someday, it’ll be pretty neat to know that that’ll just forever be there. But for me, I’ve got my eyes set on bigger goals now too, I don’t just want to stop there. My goal some day is to … I love being a trailblazer for women and I love breaking records like that. I have other first female ‘records’ that I want to break, but-
Mitch Matthews: What are some of those just so that we can say you’ve heard it here first, Dream.Think.Doers. One of the things we’re always talking about, ways to dream bigger, think better and do more. And I think setting goals and lofty goals can be a part of that. It’s not what everybody does though. So what are some of those next things that you have your sights on?
Mckenna Haase: There’s three classes of sprint car racing, 305, 360 and 410. And I want at Knoxville on the 305 class and the 360 class, multiple times in both classes. 410 is the only sprint car class I haven’t won in at Knoxville. It’s the highest level. And so I think someday it would be cool to get that record. I can’t really say that that’s like in the near future, directly on my radar. But I would like to be the first female to win a USAC National Midget race, which is kind of like sprint car racing, but without the wings on top and the cars are a little bit smaller.
Mckenna Haase: And I would also like to make it to NASCAR and break some of those first female records. I would also like to get to the point where like I get on Twitter someday and somebody else Tweets, like, “McKenna Haase isn’t just good for a girl, she’s just good.” I just think it’d be cool to get to that point in your career where it’s not just the female thing, but that you’re just a good driver, I think would be pretty cool.
Mitch Matthews: I love that. And it does seem like that’s … You continue to work on the driving, you continue to work on the business behind the driving, all of that. You seem to be focusing on the right things, so I love that. And focus, I listed off just a portion of some of the stuff that you’ve done and been doing, and it’s impressive. It would be an impressive for a 40 year old, but the fact that you’ve gotten it all done at 21. So you’ve gotten a lot done. Obviously, you’re a focused person.
Mitch Matthews: One of the things that came to mind is, here you are, you’re getting started on your own professional track, like literally. You’ve got some big goals, big dreams. Why take the time to do something like start the kids program, the racing development program for kids called Compass Racing Development? Why take time away from you just being able to focus on you and your business? Why do something like that? Why was that important for you?
Mckenna Haase: That’s a great question. I think it’s funny you ask that now because … So I started that when I was 17, and I’m 21 now. I think it’s funny because nowadays, it’s in the limelight a lot more. We’ve had eight kids come through the program and they’re all doing their own marketing. So it’s starting to become more well known across the country, and I think on one hand people can look at that and say, “Wow, Mckenna’s getting all this publicity for this nice thing that she’s doing.” But really, Compass didn’t start out like that.
Mckenna Haase: I actually wanted Compass to be a secret originally because when I started it when I was 17, I was running 305s at Knoxville, which is the lowest class. I hadn’t won yet. And I was a junior in high school going into my senior year, and I was trying to be Valedictorian and I just recovered from a really nasty brain injury from being in a really bad accident at Knoxville. And so it probably wasn’t the best time to be starting another company. Even though it’s not like a full fledged company, it’s more of just like program.
Mckenna Haase: But I went ahead and did it cause I just felt like I was being called to do it. I can still remember laying on my bedroom floor on my back with my arms spread eagle and each hand was like filled with contracts, and I just had tears streaming down my face and I was like, “Why am I doing this?” I went and built a little race car and I went out looking for a kid that would deserve the chance to race it. And I found a little boy who ran a go cart race, but then his family went through some tough times and so he hadn’t been able to race, and I was volunteering in his classroom at the time.
Mckenna Haase: I gave him the chance when he was eight. The way we originally designed the program is I didn’t want anybody else to touch the car. I didn’t want anybody else to talk to my driver, which I know sounds selfish, but I wanted to design something that I could be 100% involved in so I know what worked and what didn’t work. And if other people were touching the car, talking to my driver, I wouldn’t know what was them and then what was me and what was successful. With that being said, it was also nerve wracking because now I’m taking an eight year old racing in a car that goes really fast, that I built and I don’t even know if it works.
Mckenna Haase: He won the first race that we ever raced. And then he went on to win 29 races, three championships and one national title before the age of 12.
Mitch Matthews: What?
Mckenna Haase: That was pretty much a God-given talent thing on his end. I can’t really say that it was anything I did, I just gave him the resources, but he’s just extremely talented and really good at what-
Mitch Matthews: Well, you played your part though. Isn’t that awesome? God-given gifts is so important, but God-given gifts without mentors, God-given gifts without people coming alongside those gifts. A lot of those God-given gifts are buried, never been used because someone like you didn’t come along. So that is incredible. What is that like? Obviously, you can just kind of rattle that off now. I’m sure you’ve told that story a couple of times, but what does that feel like? Give yourself a second to think about that. You started when you were 17. It didn’t make sense. When you look back on that, what does that feel like?
Mckenna Haase: Oh, it’s the greatest honor hands down in my entire career. His name is Gage Stevens, is the boy I was talking about. And typically, all I have to do is say that word Gage before I like start crying. He’s just my whole world. And all my kids are like … Like I said, we’ve had eight come through the program since Gage, and in a variety of different ways, I ended up putting together and selling four more cars after Gage’s. I still own Gage’s and he’s graduated on to other classes, but we still use his car for other kids now and looking to expand the program again and get more cars for 2019.
Mckenna Haase: It’s just been really cool. I just can’t describe … just to see Gage’s family after going through such a tough time to now just be so strong and tight-knit as a family and how this has helped bring them together. It gives them something worth fighting for, and it gave me something worth fighting for and it still does. That’s why I want to make it to NASCAR. I don’t care about the money for myself, I don’t need that for anything, but I want to give it to the kids. That’s where it’s all going back to if I ever make it someday.
Mitch Matthews: You will. I just think it’s fantastic. And I think though, isn’t that interesting? Like that level of satisfaction and I think that level of wisdom only comes on the other side of sacrifice. Because it would have been a whole lot easier, especially as a high school student. And by the way, you did go on to become Valedictorian, didn’t you?
Mckenna Haase: Yes.
Mitch Matthews: That’s what I thought. Picking up little nuggets along the way here. That it didn’t make a lot of sense, but to hear that satisfaction in your voice. I know Dream.Think.Doers sometimes the thought of taking a second or taking a bit of a left turn to help someone doesn’t always make sense, but man, it can be some of the most satisfying experiences on our lives, and you can hear that in your voice. So there are so many, Mckenna, so many subjects I want to hit on with you here. But one of the subjects that as I was thinking through our conversation, that I really want to touch on with you was fear.
Mitch Matthews: I’ve seen the races, just even getting close … Before we hit record, I was telling you like, even getting close to a sprint car track it is like an out-of-body experience. Adrenaline can’t help but rush because you’re close to that much power, that much movement. It’s just insane. So I can only imagine what it’s like in your car. We Dream.Think.Doers, I’m guessing that there’s not a lot of our Dream.Think.Do family that is hopping into a sprint car this weekend. But everybody, they’re working on dreams, working on goals and having to push through fear. So I wanted to talk with you about fear. Do you still experience it? Did you have to push through it to get started? What’s that like now? All that.
Mitch Matthews: So let’s go back to 13. Was there a lot of fear that you had to push through in order to hop behind the wheel? What was that like at 13, and how the heck did you do it?
Mckenna Haase: Well, yeah, for sure. I think the toughest part is when you tell a story, when I just told the story that I told to you, and I’ve told that story so many times. You look back on that and it just sounds so simple, but what people don’t often realize is just how many days it took between third grade and seventh grade when I started racing. When you’re a kid, that’s a long time, there’s a lot of development in there. And so for me to sit there for four years or however long it was and beg my parents over and over and over again to let me be a race car driver, and like to hear them deny it over and over. They would say like all sorts of things just to .. They were scared.
Mitch Matthews: Oh yeah, I bet. That’s some other conversation.
Mckenna Haase: So to keep me from it, you know … And so I think to go through all of that. And then I’ll never forget when I first got the car coming home that night, I was like so excited to go there. And the minute we put the money down and left, it was almost like, I remember my parents trying to read my face because I really didn’t seem that happy, and we went to the track and we ran our first race and we did pretty well. It was just a really stressful evening. I remember like everybody’s like, “Well, did you have fun? Like that was the most important thing, if you had fun.”
Mckenna Haase: And I remember like literally being so confused at the time, like, “What are you talking about? Fun? This is my career. There’s so much on the line here. It’s not just like fun and games.” I laugh now because … If you want to talk about, yeah, back then it was fun and games. Now it is [inaudible 00:19:42] now. But now I can tell you that it is about the fun, and it’s not just about the career because there were times over those years I ended up getting burnt out.
Mckenna Haase: But anyway, we came home that night and I remember my dad looking over and … We used to fight every night we’d come home from watching the races because I wanted to be a race car driver, and this night it was dead silent and I was in tears. And I remember my dad just looked at me, he’s like, “Mckenna, you don’t have to do this. You know that, right?” I was like, “I’m going to do this.” And quite honestly, I was petrified because I just put so much weight in this. It took so much to talk him into it and then that it was finally there, I was like, “okay, now I got to perform. What did I get myself into?”
Mckenna Haase: And it was like that at every level, and actually I feel like that now even still is, you just try so hard for so long to make something happen and then once you get that shot or that opportunity, it’s like, “Okay, now you’ve got to be really good, it’s all going to [crosstalk 00:20:39]” And so I think that that was like one of the toughest things for me, is just like looking back now …It’s funny because I won’t try and get these sponsors and I’m giving the same pitch today that I gave 10 years ago to my parents, the only difference is, I actually have a track record now literally. And you would think that that would make it easier and in some ways it does, in other, it doesn’t, it’s still just a challenge every single day.
Mckenna Haase: And so I think for me, I can’t really say that I have like a ton of fear because I just know that God has a plan, but yeah, there are definitely moments that I think when it comes to racing in terms of the actual racing, everybody’s always like, “Well,, are you scared?” And don’t get me wrong, you can get nervous because really you just want to perform well. I think that that’s what it comes down to for me is I just want to do well. It’s not so much the fear of death, I think that’s where we get up when we talk about racing fear. It is a very dangerous sport, and I have lost multiple competitors since I started racing.
Mckenna Haase: And for me it’s, I’m not scared to die. And quite honestly, that is the best way my book to go, that’s how we want to die, honestly. If we had to pick, and I know that sounds horrible to some people and that probably sounds like gruesome, but for us, we’re doing what we love. And I’m just like, whenever people say, “Why aren’t you scared to do that?” I just want to ask, “Why? What’s there to be scared of? What’s the worst that could happen?” “Well, you die.” It’s like, “Okay, well if I die, I get to go to heaven. If I get hurt really bad, something else will open up, some other doors will open up.”
Mckenna Haase: If I was paralyzed tomorrow racing, then I believe that I could give back to the kids in my youth programs or something like that. there’s always another option no matter what. And fears, it comes in all shapes and sizes, it’s one thing to curl on sprint car that could kill you quite frankly, but there’s smaller things like that. Like I know everybody’s not doing that every day, but even for little bitty kids, just going to school, I was scared of that at one point, or starting a new job. Just really simple things, it’s normal. I guess, it’s a normal feeling, but I just think that no matter what happens, there’s always going to be another day and another chance to rebuild.
Mitch Matthews: I love that. I love that one. It’s kind of that thing too, we were talking a little bit before I hit record and you’re coming off a weekend of being at a business conference, working with sponsors, all of that. You hear about being out on the race track, it sounds exciting, it sounds almost glamorous if you weren’t covered with mud at the end of every race, but there’s a true, this is a business or you are running business and, and there’s aspects of that too. And I love how you’re applying what you’ve learned about fear obviously to what you’re doing on the racetrack, but also to walk across conference floor and network with people that you don’t know and all those things. So you’re having to apply this in life and your business as well as on the racetrack.
Mckenna Haase: Yeah. I think the business side is actually probably, and it’s hard because my team is funded through sponsorships that I try and go out and secure, as well as merchandise sales from our family or from our fans which are like family and a variety of other aspects, but not every team is like that. Some teams are just funded by people out of their own pocket, some teams are funded by family businesses, but regardless, the money has to come from somewhere. And for me, when I was starting at 13, I couldn’t have a job, I had been into investing for a long time or just selling things door to door, which at that rate, it takes forever to save up. And so I knew that it was impossible for me to ever really make it that far in racing just because my father couldn’t afford it.
Mckenna Haase: I started getting a few sponsors, it just kind of started like a snowball effect. And that’s what I’ve kept doing. And for me, you just have to do what works for you and you got to make it happen however works for you, and for me, that was sponsorship, and it still is to this day. And so that’s how I do it, and it is a business. I think the toughest thing is, a lot of people will tell you in racing, you hear this probably all the time is, “If you want to make a million in racing, start with two or something like that.” Like everybody has that. Personally, I disagree, everybody acts like racing is this big money pit.
Mckenna Haase: And I just want to say like, look at any fortune 500 company, they have hundreds of millions or billions of dollars worth of expenses, and that’s part of running a business, and racing seems no different. We have expenses too, but we also have an opportunity for revenue just like any business. And for us, that comes through marketing. And I think that any marketing outlet that companies are investing in is available in motor sports. You have the billboards, you have the race cars, you have the social media, you have the TV, you have all of that.
Mckenna Haase: And so I think that sometimes our sport and our industry doesn’t have the confidence to stand behind that and to recognize that just because I do think there’s a stereotype that you’re just paying for some hobby or something like that. And I think that there is more to it than that, if you believe in the value and you’re able to sell that and you’re able to truly partner with your sponsors and provide them with what they want. And so yeah, I think in terms of fear, it’s like any other sales job, is you just don’t know what tomorrow might bring. You can make a ton in a day, you could lose a ton in a day, and you just don’t know day to day. And so I think you just have to put a lot of faith and trust and hope that everything works out.
Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome. Well, and also it’s amazing how much of this even hearkens back to your first racing experience. I think most people were saying, “Oh are you having fun? It’s fun. It’s a hobby.” And you were already at 13 thinking, “This is my life, this is my career.” And how that then has applied in so many different areas. So that’s fantastic. All right. I want to go into another area here and that is a Dream.Think.Do, obviously not a lot of us hop in sprint cars, but it is the journey. It’s as you talked about, even the journey from third grade to your junior year, there’s a lot of time in there.
Mitch Matthews: And you’ve had especially now, you’ve had some really big wins, but I’m sure you’ve had some races where you’ve had results you weren’t happy with. And I’m guessing you probably had some races where the car didn’t perform where you wanted to, all those, and this a longterm, this is truly the marathon. Even though you’re sprints, this career is a marathon. How do you stay motivated? How do you just stay inspired?
Mckenna Haase: I think there’s so much truth to that, and I just think that’s one thing that’s always so hard to promote is that I think with social media and media in general, yeah, people always see the nice pictures and the accomplishments and all of that. When you think about my records at Knoxville alone, we’ve won five times at Knoxville. And you think, okay, so I set the 18 lap track record here this year at Knoxville, I went 18 laps in five minutes and one second. So do you think roughly five minutes to run this race compared to like think of for over 3,000 days it took to get to that point?Like 3,000 days. And so, if we’re talking five minutes of you, even calculate how many minutes that is, like it’s insane.
Mckenna Haase: And that’s the part that people don’t see, and that’s okay. As long as people understand that no matter what you do, honestly I cannot describe to you like getting to the higher levels of racing is just how unhappy some of these, not just racers but anybody in life that you think has it all together, everybody has issues. Some of the people that I idolize, I found out they’re so unhappy, not all of them, some of them are, you just don’t know. You just don’t know, everybody has battles, everybody has challenges. And that’s simply part of life, and it’s hard.
Mckenna Haase: It’s really hard because I think it’s so easy sometimes to think that somebody else has it better and don’t get me wrong, some people do have maybe bigger tragedies or whatever, but pain and challenge and hurt come in a variety of different ways. And I can honestly say that there’s so many times in my life that people have said like, “I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been,” whenever I’ve gone through something, but the reality is, is the hardest things that I’ve ever gone through, people don’t see them, people don’t know about them, people don’t know they’ve ever existed.
Mckenna Haase: And I think that you just have to trust that everybody has a story like that, everybody’s experienced something that you know nothing about. And I think that if you trust that you are worthy of challenging through that and dialing through that, you will be rewarded. If you can keep your composure and live with grace and just be the best person that you can be, you will be rewarded. I think that oftentimes, it’s like advice sounds so cliche. If you talk to successful people and all their advice sounds so cliche that it just goes over our heads, but they say it for a reason. They say work hard for a reason, and treat others with respect for reason. They tell you all this in kindergarten for a reason, and then we’d just go like, we want to test it out, like all these other things and see if it works. But really, if you listen to these people, there’s a lot of truth to that.
Mitch Matthews: Absolutely. That’s awesome. I love it. I love it. And it is so true. And it’s so funny, some of the most successful people that I’ve met in life, successful in business, but also in life and relationships, even one of them, probably one of the wealthiest people I’ve ever met, and he said,” I’ll never probably write a book because all of the wisdom I’d ever share, it does … ” He said, “It sounds so trite. It’s stuff you’ve heard a thousand times, but I’ve just lived by that and it’s worked pretty well.” So you’re right. I love that. And I love that you have that wisdom already.
Mitch Matthews: I’ve got a couple of more questions I’m dying to ask you. We’re going to take a quick break, hear from our sponsor and then we’ll be back. I’ve got two more that I want to go after. So here we go.
Mitch Matthews: All right. I continue to just be blown away by all the wisdom that’s packed into your 21 years, it’s incredible. One thing I’ve just got to touch on though is, we actually got to briefly connect because you came to our big dream gathering when we were at Drake.
Mckenna Haase: Yes. I did.
Mitch Matthews: Which one? We’d been at Drake a number of times, but which one was it? Or how long ago was it?
Mckenna Haase: It would have been 2016, I believe.
Mitch Matthews: Oh yeah. Right on. And any dreams that you posted? What was that experience like for you?
Mckenna Haase: Oh man, it was so long ago now, but probably a racing dream for sure.
Mitch Matthews: I love it. I love it. That’s awesome. I love it. As far as going after some of the other questions, one of the questions, I know faith plays a big part in your racing and I just wanted to touch on that. If I’m understanding it from some of the research that we did, you’ve got a sticker that talks about the racer’s prayer, but I know your faith is a big part of how you keep going as well. Tell us a little bit about that, how has that played in to your driving in your career?
Mckenna Haase: It’s pretty much been, probably the most important thing, which ironically, it wasn’t always before I got into racing. On the first car that I ever bought, had a sticker on the inside with the racer’s prayer on it, and the girl that on the car said that she had it memorized and she would say it before every race. And so, I just decided I guess that I would too. And so I did. And so I just started saying this prayer before every race and like, I don’t know, it just became very comforting and it just, I don’t know, it took a lot of fear and nerves away and just gave me confidence and it just kind of stuck. And then when I got into college, I kind of stumbled into a Christian ministry group through a very weird series of events. It definitely was one of those things that you just felt like …
Mckenna Haase: It was just something like, it was just a weird series of events. And so I started going to this and I’d always stand in the back and not sing the songs and all this. And by the end, I was speaking at church engagements and functions, and I just hosted a worship night at the race track and I’ve posted my own Bible Studies. And those are all things that I would have a thought A, were weird and B, the never would have ever be doing like 10 years ago. But that’s just like how my life’s been transformed.
Mckenna Haase: It’s just been a really cool honor to … They included my story and sermon at Lutheran Church of Hope this year, which I think went to like over 30,000 people, which was just so cool. And I’ll be talking about faith in business, I’ll be a speaker in January within Church of Hope as well, and they’ll have my car on display in the church, which is like, man, even for people that don’t believe in God, if you put in a sprint car, it’s like-
Mitch Matthews: I am there, are you kidding? Absolutely.
Mckenna Haase: Like, “What on earth?” And so that’s just been really cool. And it’s just been such a huge honor to, the more outspoken I guess I’ve been about it, the more I started talking about how that’s impacted my life, to see my fans coming to my church and then bringing people that they know and so on and so forth, it’s just been kind of this snowball effect. And I just think that’s been really cool in a sport that is brutal and violent. and heartbreaking as ours, as well is very rewarding and amazing. It’s just very adrenaline filled, and I just think to have something that can keep us all grounded and to just give us all faith and just guidance, I think is really important.
Mitch Matthews: I love it. Can you do, not to put you on the spot, but I’m guessing you’ve done it a few times. The racer’s prayer, I’ve just heard snippets of it from the different interviews, the TV interviews and things like that that you’ve done. But can you walk us through it or even just recite it?
Mckenna Haase: Yeah. I have done it a few times.
Mitch Matthews: Thousands times, probably.
Mckenna Haase: Yeah, probably a thousand times. Lord, I praise I race today, keep me safe along the way and not only me, but the others too, performing the jobs they do. I know God, the NRA side, the driver must set the pace, but in this race of life, I pray help me Lord along the way. Although I see my weakness and I know that I am a sinner, help me to believe and know that with God you’re always a winner.
Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome. That’s something that’s kind of just helped you get in the right mind frame I imagine, but it’s also probably helped you to stay focused off the track too.
Mckenna Haase: Yeah, I think I always just say that over and over in my cockpit before I race just to, it helps me focus I guess. But yeah, off the track is huge as well. Like I’ve just continued to more and more I guess grow in that and also share it with my kids through Compass.
Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome. I love it. Last question, I always love to pose it, especially for that person that’s sitting there, they’re listening to this. They needed to hear from you, Mckenna, that they may be thinking about going after something. And I think your story is such a great reminder of it’s all relative, because you started at 13, you’re 21 now, I’m thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh, that’s starting so early.” But earlier on conversation, you’re like, “Oh no, I started late.” It’s like, “What?” But I do think there are so many people out there that’s like, “Well, maybe I need to wait until, fill in the blank. I’m old enough, I have enough money, I know the right people. All of those things.” What would you say to that person as we’re wrapping this up to just get them going?
Mckenna Haase: Well, I would say a couple of things. First off, like you said, for me, I kind of felt the opposite. I felt like it was too late and I was like, “Oh, I’m never going to make it because these kids have been doing this forever.” And I would say that, if you’re designed to do it, and you feel like your heart’s telling you to do it, then the timing will be perfect. But I would say, and again, I know it’s cliche to like follow your heart and all that, but I would just say that, yeah, follow your heart, just because that’s what I did and nobody thought it was cool. I think, this is going to sound terrible, but the dean in my college always used to tell us that you cannot do anything you put your mind to, which sounds horrible because like that sounds just very non motivating.
Mckenna Haase: But he would always tell me, he’s like, “Mckenna, you’re not going to be a professional basketball player, you’re not tall, you’re 21. That’s just not your thing. But, you do have a chance of being a race car driver.” And he’s like, “So go do that.” And that’s why I honestly took this semester off of Drake, which is crazy for the dean of the college to tell me, basically leave and go try and be a professional race car driver because I have a shot at doing that. And I would say that if the door is open, even if it’s just an inch, open it all the way and just run and never look back.
Mitch Matthews: I love it. I love it. Well, thank you for doing that. Thanks for inspiring us as you have. Guys, we’ll include all the links, but what’s the best way for people to find you and start to follow what you’re up to, Mckenna?
Mckenna Haase: Www.mckennahaase.com is my website, and my Facebook page is Mckenna Haase. It’s H-A-A-S-E. And Twitter @Mckennahaase, and Instagram @sassyhaase55.
Mitch Matthews: I love it. I love it. We’ll get all that stuff on the post as well. But Mckenna, thanks so much for spending the time with us. Thanks for going after your dreams, thanks for inspiring so many to do it too.
Mckenna Haase: Thank you for having me, Mitch.