Katie Hettinger IV

Katie Hettinger will debut in the ARCA Menards Western series

Dryden, Michigan – At just 15 years old, Katie Hettinger’s racing biography is filled with some pretty impressive accomplishments.

She won the 2020 Champion Racing Association (CRA) Late Junior Model Series title to become the first and only Champion in CRA’s 25-year history.

In a span of two weeks in September 2021, Hettinger became the youngest race winner at North Carolina’s Hickory Motors when she won the 50-lap limited-time model advantage on September 4 as part of the Bobby Isaacs Memorial event.

She then became the youngest winner of the Hickory Late Crossbar on September 18 when she won a 75 lap advantage on the track, further polishing Hickory’s title as the birthplace of NASCAR stars.

Hettinger won four more model races in Hickory on her way to becoming the most successful female contestant in the track’s 72-year history.

At 15, Katie Hettinger is already the winning racer at the Hickory Motor Speedway. (KH photo)

With those accomplishments in hand, despite the fact that a Michigan driver’s license remains out of reach until Dryden turns 16, Hettinger is preparing for her next step up the racing ladder.

On October 14 at the Las Vegas Bullring, Hettinger will make her debut in the ARCA Menards West Series. In fact, it will be the first of two ARCA races for the high school sophomore, as Hettinger will also compete in the West Series Final on November 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

“Anytime I get in a race car, my goal is to win, but ARCA is a step forward with strong teams and talented drivers, so the most realistic expectations are to finish in Las Vegas in the top five and, ideally, the best – Phoenix is ​​a bigger track,” Hettinger said. – Biggest track I’ve ever walked – so that would be more difficult. The top 10 players in Phoenix would be great.”

Hettinger will compete in both races with Young’s Motorsports, driving the #02 Chevrolet with support from Wheeler Trucking, the leader in automotive transportation services, and bradCM Incorporated, a privately owned general contractor.

The 375-mile Las Vegas Bullring is similar to many of the short courses Hettinger tested on the later models.

However, the Phoenix is ​​a fast, flat, one-mile oval that hosts the championship finals for NASCAR’s first three series – the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck.

“Every time I get into a new car, I drive it like I normally do,” said Hettinger, who has made more than a hundred late model starts and limited late model competition. “I don’t usually struggle with switching classes or cars or anything like that.”

However, Hettinger knows ARCA represents a new style of racing, and is already putting in the time to adapt to the 3,400-pound ARCA.

“I want to make sure I succeed when I get to the Las Vegas Bullring and when we race in Phoenix, so we are testing with an ARCA car and I do a lot of simulation training before and after those tests,” Hettinger said.

“The main thing that I found different with the ARCA is that you have to back up your entry into the turns. With the late model, you can push it deeper into the corner, which I like. With the ARCA, you have to be more patient. You have to wait a little bit longer. back to gas.

Hettinger is a third generation racer who competed in her first race at just four weeks old.

Her grandfather, Jim Hettinger, raced between open-wheel dwarfs and sprint cars and won two dwarf championships in 1984 and 1990 — accolades that earned him a place in the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame. Her father, Chris Hettinger, was also a winning racer in open wheel races, especially in dwarves.

It wasn’t long before Katie’s name started appearing in the entry lists and at the top of race results.

At the age of five, she was racing a quarter dwarf. At first, it was only local, but soon Hettinger was racing regionally and then nationally, with over 40 wins.

At nine, she transitioned into micro sprints and 600cc racing, competing on dirt from 2016 through 2018. The 11-year-old Hettinger transitioned to full-body cars in the CRA Junior Late Model Series and proved to be a quick study.

Katie Hettinger III
Katie Hettinger becomes the first and only CRA champion in 2020 (KH photo)

After finishing fourth in the 2019 Championships and being named Athlete of the Year, Hettinger upped her game in 2020. She took two wins and took three quick trophies, one of which set a new record at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, and the season ended. As the 2020 CRA Junior Late Model Series Champion.

Since she turned 14 in June 2021 and earned her NASCAR license, Hettinger has scrapped the “junior” label from the late supermodel. She regularly competes at the highest level of local auto racing, hopping from Michigan to race in the hot southeast of NASCAR’s weekly racing series, with the 363-mile Hickory Oval being one of Hettinger’s most frequented tracks.

“I’m proud of what we were able to achieve at Hickory, but I didn’t go there to be the most winning racer. I went there to win races, just like all the other guys out there,” Hettinger said. “I’m just like everyone else. I’m just there to win races.”

With four wins in her eight visits to Hickory this year, Hettinger has achieved her goal.

What makes these wins even more impressive is that Hettinger did so while playing at school in her home state of Michigan. Three of her victories this year came when she was a freshman at Almont High School. Her last win on July 23 was the only one that came when she was out of school for summer break.

said Hettinger, an outdoorsy woman who also enjoys hunting and fishing. “I still get mostly A and B grades, and I play a lot of school sports, so sometimes I miss a volleyball game or a basketball game, but overall, I can manage.”

Along with the pit crew helping her on the track, Hettinger has the full support of her family as she pursues her dream of NASCAR. They include her 12-year-old sister Grace and 4-year-old brother Keith.

Hettinger said, “My mom and dad are very supportive and understanding, and my sister is a competitive dancer and plays volleyball. My little brother loves racing and always wants to go see Katie’s race car. They are all in this dream as much as I am.”

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