Hickory, North Carolina (Saturday, March 6, 2021) - The 2020 Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Model Series champion, Katie Hettinger is beginning the next phase of her career this weekend in Hickory, North Carolina. The 13-year-old Metamora, Michigan driver plans to sit behind the wheel in three different late model divisions this season as she continues to pursue a dream of full-time racing.
Horsepower Happenings’, Zach Hiser had a chance to catch up with Hettinger Saturday in between her Practice and Qualifying runs at Hickory Motor Speedway. Hettinger said during the call that months of preparation have led to tonight’s race.
“We’ve been testing [at Hickory] a lot,” said Hettinger. “We’ve been here almost every weekend for the past couple months getting ready.”
Hettinger says the plan this season is to run the full Limited Late Model schedule at Hickory in her Matt Piercy-owned number 71. She says she’ll also make some Pro Late Model starts in her family-owned car as soon as next week, and select Late Model Stock races after her 14th birthday on June 25th. The goals this season for Hettinger and her team are pretty simple - perform.
“We’re probably not going to run for a championship this year,” explained Hettinger. “But we do want to win races.”
Hettinger says the move to race down south featured many factors including looser COVID-19 regulations. According to Hettinger, the team can attend far more races in South Carolina thanks in part to their warmer weather and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions which allow more tracks to be open. She compared that to the several tracks in Michigan that could not open in 2020.
When asked why Hettinger didn’t stay within the Champion Racing Association ranks and move to the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour like former Junior Late Model Competitors Chase Burda and Charlie Keevan, the youngster says she simply didn’t get enough seat time.
“Juniors only got five races last season,” recalls Hettinger. “I just didn’t get enough seat time before we make the jump to Pro Racing.”
With the help of her Dad and former racer, Chris Hettinger, as well as Piercy, Katie will see plenty of seat time this year at Hickory Motor Speedway as she hopes to reach what she called ‘higher levels of racing’. Katie Hettinger also mentioned that her current plan is to race at Hickory for ‘a couple more years’.
To follow along on Hettinger’s journey, follow her Facebook page at Katie Hettinger Racing. Log onto her website at www.katiehettingerracing.com.
For more stories from around the region, be sure to log ontowww.horsepowerhappenings.com. Listen to on-demand episodes of the Horsepower Happenings Podcast, with new episodes every Monday night at 9:00 pm.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Katie Hettinger Racing