Keith Haney and his Keith Haney Racing team kicked off their 2016 season with a test last weekend at Orlando Speed World. Haney tested both his Pro Nitrous car and his new Drag Radial car for two days while in central Florida. This helped prepare Haney for the Professional Drag Racers Association season, during which he will drive his Camaro sponsored by Lucas Oil and RacingJunk.com, which begins in March at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park.
According to Haney, testing has so far been “amazing”. He and his team took off for Florida on Friday when he went to Innovative Safety Products in Concord, NC to have his seat installed in the Drag Radial car. He began learning all the nuances of his new car during his first passes on Saturday.
On Wednesday night, Haney showed how serious he is by running the quickest elapsed time in Drag Radial history, 3.894 seconds at 131.81 mph, which led him to claim the provisional No. 1 spot for the Lights Out 7 race at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
“I could go home tomorrow and know that I accomplished what everybody said I couldn’t do. But it wasn’t me,” Haney said, crediting all those who helped with this build.
But driving a Drag Radial car for the first time is anything but easy. Haney has had to learn the car and figure out how to drive it.
“When they shake, you better get out of it,” Haney said. “The driving side of it is totally different. It’s like a Pro Stocker: When it starts to shake, you’re done, you lift. There’s no driving through it. And if you try to drive through it, you’re liable to end up on your lid or in the wall. A radial is totally different than a big tire.”
Last week, Haney finally debuted the new car, built by Larry Jeffers Race Cars and completed by Brandon Switzer and his Switzer Dynamics team. The car is matte black, with black and white decals from his many sponsors. Everything on the new car is top of the line and the latest technology.
This was not an easy feat, however, as Switzer and Brandon Pesz had never tuned a Drag Radial car until this week when Haney tested it at Orlando Speed World.
“Guess what? They just know how to drag race,” said Haney. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a big tire or a little tire. What matters is they put as much passion and hard work into it as I do in driving.”
During Haney’s pass, he recorded the quickest 60-foot and 330-foot times in a Drag Radial Car.
“I’ve got goose bumps,” Haney said. “I don’t know what to say. I guess it’s like Erica [Enders] winning for the first time; that’s what I relate it to. They said she couldn’t do it, they said I couldn’t do it. She did it, and I just did it.
“I had a premonition that something special was going to happen. I live life like that. Everything happens for a reason.”
The car has a unique look that Haney is very proud of.
“The car is so cocky,” Haney said. “I’ve got blowers, I’ve got turbos, I’ve got superchargers in the background on the car, and it’s a nitrous car. On the back, it says, ‘If you’re looking at this, I’m on the cover of Drag Illustrated.‘”
Haney credits Lucas Oil, RacingJunk.com, Switzer Dynamics, Brandon Pesz and Pesz Performance & Tuning, Reher-Morrison, and M&M Transmission for helping out with the 2016 season.
“I put something on Brandon Switzer and his shop that they weren’t expecting,” Haney said. “The chassis and the shell was built at Larry Jeffers’ shop, and then it went to Brandon. He got it in December, and he just fired the car earlier this week. They had to do everything to this car.
“Everything we learned from my Pro Nitrous car went into the Drag Radial car. Every issue we ran into before has been fixed on this car. He threw the kitchen sink at this car, and people have put in countless hours. This car is truly a state-of-the-art Drag Radial car.”