Record Breaking NASCAR Whelen Debut For Hannah Newhouse
Hannah Newhouse launched her NASCAR Whelen All-American Series career with a record-setting performance Saturday night. Newhouse became the series’ youngest NASCAR Division I feature winner in her first career start at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho.
She won a side-by-side race with Steve Edens off Turn 4 to the finish line to win the 30-lap Commercial Tire Super Stock feature at the .333-mile paved oval. Her margin of victory was .001-second over Edens.
At 15 years, two months and 10 days, Newhouse lowered the age record held by Lexi Wilson. Wilson was 15 years, three months, 29 days when she won a Div. III feature in 2010. Newhouse is also the track’s youngest NASCAR Division I feature winner and youngest female feature winner in any division.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Newhouse said. “I talked with (car owner) Brett Thompson before the feature. He just said it’s a long season. We were looking for maybe a top-three finish and be able to drive a nice looking car back to the pits after the race. If we had any problems we’d bounce back. I felt comfortable with the car. I was ready to go.”
Newhouse is also the third youngest Division I winner -- male or female -- in the history of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Michael McGuire set the mark at 14 years, 11 months and 10 days at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., in 2011, and Austin Self won at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, on his 15th birthday in 2011.
Because of the close finish, Newhouse didn’t know she won the feature even though the scoreboard had instantly posted the results from the cars’ transponders.
“My first reaction wasn’t to look at the scoreboard," Newhouse said. "I had no clue we won. Then I drove by the pits and saw my crew chief Brian Helm up against the fence cheering with his fist raised in the air. That’s when I knew.”
Then she drove around to the start-finish line for Victory Lane ceremonies.
“There were fans pressed up against the fence cheering for me," Newhouse said. "I didn’t think anyone knew me at all. Then my dad ran all the way from the pits to give me a big hug. It was exciting.”
The driver’s father, John Newhouse, was a go-kart and dirt bike racer. He’s now reduced his schedule but still competes in the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series for Late Models, where he was champion in 2007.
“Dad’s my inspiration,” Newhouse said. “He’s the reason I got interested in racing. For me it’s enjoyable just to be at the track. Sure, I’d like to have a career in racing. I want to be involved with racing. But I’m still in high school. I’m trying to make the cheerleading squad for a second year. I’m doing that and trying to be in the race shop three or four times a week.
“I want to be able to work on the car and learn it,” Newhouse said. “We got the car on March 7 and I helped strip it and rebuilt it. I’m the smallest person in the shop, so I’m the one who has to go work underneath it.”
John Newhouse brokered the deal with Thompson, a long-time competitor in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, to put his daughter in a Super Stock based at the Thompson Motorsports stable. Thompson and another protégé Braeden Havens compete in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The Jerome, Idaho based team is also a full service fabrication and repair shop.
Before Saturday she had only 20 laps of practice in the car. The first time she was on the track with other Super Stocks was when she lined up for her heat race Saturday night. She finished fourth in that preliminary event.
Newhouse followed her dad into go-kart racing at age six. She won track and state International Kart Federation titles. She began to dabble in stock car racing three years ago in the Junior Stinger division at Magic Valley. After starting a handful of Intermountain Pro Truck Series races in 2010, she raced fulltime in the series last year. She finished fourth in points and won the Rookie of the Year Award. She plans to make five starts in the truck series this year.
John Newhouse, who owns his Late Model and Hannah’s truck, says racing is part of the family lifestyle.
“Hannah’s mother Susan is very supportive of her racing. Her brother Mason is 12 and he’s racing go-karts now,’ Newhouse said.
Newhouse’s primary business is operating three locations of his auto dealership, but he also operates a public indoor go-kart track in Twin Falls.
NASCAR-licensed Division I drivers are eligible to compete for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships and point fund awards at the track, state or province, and national levels. Track champions receive customized helmets. State and province champions receive driver uniforms from series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series was formed in 1982.