Still Going Strong: Haudenschild Enjoys 34th Season in Sprint Car Racing
Sometimes it's hard for Jac Haudenschild to believe that he has been racing sprint cars for 34 years. He still remembers climbing into a sprint car for the first time at Lakeville Speedway and Wayne County Speedway in his home state of Ohio back in 1974, like it was yesterday.
Haudenschild has seen a lot during his 34 years behind the wheel. He has seen many tracks come and go. In addition to racing winged and non-winged sprint cars, he even has turned laps in dirt modifieds and late models. He has competed against countless Hall of Fame drivers and has won his fair share of big events, including the Mopar Million non-wing sprint car race at Eldora Speedway in 2003 that earned him $200,000. He began this season with over 350 career wins, and currently has 46 World of Outlaws A-Feature triumphs.
Haudenschild, who earned his nickname, "The Wild Child" from his aggressive and entertaining driving style, still drives just as hard today as he did the first time he strapped into a sprint car.
"We like to race just as much as ever," said Haudenschild, driver of the Wright One Construction Maxim. "The traveling gets a little old, criss-crossing around, but as far as driving that is what keeps me going. I just try to win as many races as I can."
While the level of competition has certainly grown over the years, Haudenschild points out that the cars of today are very similar to the cars that he climbed into over 30 years ago. While technology has improved and computers are used vastly to help determine the perfect balance for a car, it is still that seat-of-the-pants feel that is most priceless in having a fast car at the race track for the veteran driver.
"The cars haven't changed a whole lot over the years," he noted. "The motors are a lot better than they used to be and the shocks have come a long way from where they were. The cars are still very similar though."
Haudenschild heads to Charter Raceway Park in Wisconsin for the finale of the "SuperClean Summer of Money" this weekend, where he was victorious for the second time in his career last season, for back-to-back nights of racing that will pay the winner $10,000-to win each night. Last season, he battled reigning World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz as well as Craig Dollansky for the win on the high-banked 1/3-mile. In his career at the track, he has six Top-10 finishes.
"We like running at Beaver Dam," said the fan favorite. "I like the little short tracks. We don't mind running on the smaller tracks, that's for sure. The car has been running good lately and we hope to go up there and have a good run."
With the level of competition at an all-time high this season on the World of Outlaws trail, it takes the complete package to run at the front of the field, and that starts with the two laps of qualifying that each competitor receives to begin the night. Heading into action this weekend, Haudenschild has set fast time once on the year, as well as winning one Crane Cams Dash to earn a pole position for an A-Feature event. He has two A-Feature wins, including one at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota, in the third event of the "SuperClean Summer of Money."
"Even on the short tracks, your motor has to be running good," he explained. "You also have to be set up good. The competition is too tough and too tight to not have everything set up right. You have to have the motor running good and the car balanced."
In the off-season Haudenschild traded four wheels for two and raced indoors on motorcycles a couple of times with his son Sheldon. When he was not on the seat, it was a whole new experience for the veteran driver watching his son compete.
"It's a little bit more nerve-wracking watching your son race than racing yourself," shared the veteran driver. "We never really get that nervous racing ourselves, but when you are watching your kids, it's a little bit different."
Prior to the pair of events at Charter Raceway Park this weekend, Haudenschild and his team led by Crew Chief Bonzai Bruns had a few days to return to home to their shop in Ohio to prepare for a big stretch of racing that will begin this weekend. They head to Wisconsin, 10th in championship points on the strength of 24 Top-10 finishes.
"We always look forward to a few days off, though three days is really not a lot of time," he said. "It will take us that long to get the car cleaned up and ready for the next race."
Haudenschild believes that racing two nights in a row at Charter Raceway Park will be very beneficial to his team. While they have a very good baseline set-up to use at the high-banked track with their past success, they still learn something new every time they unload the car and turn a lap.
"It helps to run a couple nights at the same place," said Haudenschild. "You get to know the track a little on the first night and it's also fun to run it on the second night."
The event on Saturday, August 4, will be the final race of the "SuperClean Summer of Money" on ESPN2, and will air on Sunday, August 5 at 11 a.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Central.
Prior to the events each night at Charter Raceway Park, live entertainment will be provided for the fans.
On Friday, August 3 at Charter Raceway Park adult admission general admission tickets will be $25 in advance and $30 the day of the race. Adults reserved tickets will be $30 in advance and $35 the day of the race. Pit pass combos will also be available for will $35 in advance or $40 the day of the race.
On Saturday, August 4 at Charter Raceway Park adult general admission tickets will be $30 in advance and $35 the day of the race. Adult reserved tickets will be $30 in advance and $35 the day of the race. Pit pass combos will be available for $35 in advance and $40 the day of the race.