The Sprint Car 101 of Thursday, June 19, introduced three young sprint car drivers, all rookies in the 305 winged sprint car class. McKenna Haase, 17, is a senior-to-be at Carlisle High School; Kade Higday, 15, is a student at Southeast Polk High School; and Keoni Texeira, 31, is originally from Hawaii. Although Keoni is older, he has been out of racing for several years and is beginning his first year at Knoxville.
Host Eric Arnold, Knoxville track historian, started by asking each of the three about how they began their racing careers. All three were very similar. McKenna started out at age 13 driving Go-Karts at Slideways and English Creek. Kade began at age 4 driving four-wheelers and later Go-Karts at Newton, and Keoni began driving mini-stocks, then midgets in Hawaii. Kade is the only one from a racing family as he is the son of Josh Higday, a regular at Knoxville.
Each then talked about their experiences as a first-year driver, with each gaining some degree of success.
McKenna is currently 13th in points, Kade 12th, and Keoni 8th. As high school students, both McKenna and Kade talked about how they handled both racing and their studies.
Each of the three also spoke to the amount of time they spent working on their cars, with Keoni spending the most time, as his is basically a one-man operation. McKenna has a family-owned team and works with her father, and Kade works as needed with his father.
As to their future, all agreed they would like to continue racing with goals of gradually improving and moving up in classes and taking advantage of any opportunities that might arise.
The evening ended with questions from the audience in which Keoni displayed a sharp and entertaining sense of humor.
Sprint Car 101 is a program offered by the Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Hall of Fame. The next program is scheduled for July 17. The programs are free and open to the public. Anyone interested in learning more may contract the Hall of Fame at www.sprintcarhof.com.