EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a feature on Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series National Tour driver Blake Hahn from the May edition of Sprint Car & Midget Magazine.
To read part one, click here.
By the start of the 2015 season, Emmett Hahn decided it was time to offer more support to his grandson.
The move was made to put Blake back in a family car. It would be yellow and it would carry the No. 52. To get a jump on things, Hahn traveled to Florida’s East Bay Raceway in the dead of winter, and brought no less than Gary Wright along to help him.
Once again, Blake Hahn couldn’t believe what was happening. But, more than anything, he recognized that he was “lucky to have my grandfather support me and introduce me to awesome people.”
In 2015 he improved four spots in the final standings but, even more important, he scored his first ASCS National Tour win in his 54th career start. Heading to Kansas for a June tilt at Salina Highbanks Speedway, he got a good omen when he pulled No. 52 in the pill draw.
Blake was able to move around Wayne Johnson on the 12th lap and was never headed. It was not only a big moment in his career, it was a big moment for the entire family.
Obviously, by now Emmett Hahn had an investment – emotional and otherwise – in his grandson. With the stake in the squad, he was also in position to offer input.
“He is a racer at heart,” Blake said of his grandfather. “He is very competitive. He wants me to win as much as we do. He always gives advice, some stuff maybe we wouldn’t go to because we consider it a little old school. But he has great knowledge. He was a great racer, so he has seen some things that others haven’t.
“It’s fun, because if we go to Hutchinson, Amarillo, and Wichita, those are also places he went to. Now we are racing there too.”
For his part, Emmett still feels that the team “lacks chassis savvy,” and notes that he has seen Blake “go out there with a not very good race car and get good results out of it.”
Then, in his inimitable style, he added, “Now I am old school, but the basics of a race car are still the same.”
There is a dicey side to this story as well. The ASCS is Emmett Hahn’s series and, as noted, other members of the family are involved.
“It is a fine line,” Blake said. “In fact, it is something we struggle with. Some people think we get breaks when really we’re under the radar more. Often it seems calls go the other way. I understand that now, but when I was younger I didn’t. I would be like, what in the world? I understand now.”
No one has a better position than his grandfather to recognize this dynamic, and why 50/50 calls have to go against his grandson.
That said, he admitted, “Listen, we own the series, and I’m also a car owner. I think I have gone to Matt Ward (ASCS official) a couple of times and said, this is not right.”
It takes time to be among the best in your discipline, and the road to the top is never linear. Blake continued to show progress and had reached as high as fourth in the final standings twice.
Heading into the 2020 season, Hahn observed, “We have a lot more experience now and understand what it means to be a national touring team. I would like to think we have our ducks in a row.”
In 2018, a sign that he was clearly headed in the right direction came with a win at the prestigious Short Track Nationals at Little Rock. Holding off Sam Hafertepe Jr., he soon realized that this was the kind of signature win that others recognize.
“I’ll tell you when it kicked in,” he said. “The first year we won it, the next morning I got on the phone and looked at the list of past winners and it was like Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, and you name it. My name is on the list with those guys.”
As satisfying as that was, in 2018 he really felt he should have finished higher in the standings. A couple of bad runs at Lucas Oil Raceway in Wheatland, Mo., really hurt him, and then three of the last four races were rained out. Any chance to recover was lost.
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