The NHRA Preseason Test Session at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix is set for February 1st and 2nd. Not only is this a site for new paint schemes and teams to get their feet wet, but it is also an opportunity for new drivers to test their mettle and prove their worth. This is especially true when stepping up to the “Big Show” ranks when your objective is to traverse a 1,000 foot narrow strip of asphalt and concrete with a nearly 30 foot long, 2,300 pound, 10,000 + horsepower machine in less than four seconds at well over 300 miles per hour. Make no mistake it is not an easy task and it may be even more challenging mentally than physically. It speaks to the incredible talents and professionalism of the drivers that make it look as if anyone could do it.
Though this magazine is dedicated to nostalgia drag racing, it is always noteworthy to recognize those nostalgia drag racers that are taking their talents to the biggest stage in drag racing. There have been several instances of this including Audrey Worm racing a top fueler for the Leverich family after previously racing a front engine dragster. She also now has the distinction of starting her own female lead team. Taking over the wheel of the Leverich family dragster will be another nostalgia stalwart, Joe Morrison who has shared seat time in nostalgia floppers and altereds. In the “Big Show” flopper ranks we have seen Mike McIntyre take his “MacAttack” exploits to the NHRA stage and are waiting for Jason Rupert to make his debut as well. There are also drivers such as John Hale and Jeff Arend who compete in both the nostalgia ranks and the Mello Yello Series. Adding his name to this impressive list at the February test session will be Joey Haas who will be making his licensing runs in Terry Totten’s top fueler.
Slowing down on the top end at US 131 Motorsports Park after a low 6 second qualifying run
Pulling to the staging lanes at the National Hot Rod Reunion
It was roughly this time last year that Joey got the nod to drive the Steve McClain owned AA/FD. 2019 saw Joey take the wheel of the yellow and black striped slingshot and make several impressive outings at events in Cordova, Bowling Green, and Martin. Prior to getting behind the wheel of the nitro burning rail, Joey had already built an impressive resume’ in his dual function “Nimrod” funny car and coupe bodied altered. He could be seen competing with the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit, the Nostalgia Super Quick Series, Funny Car Chaos, and posted two wins in his altered at the famous World Fuel Altered Nationals in Eddyville, Iowa. When not in a firesuit sitting behind the butterfly steering wheel Joey can be seen slinging wrenches on Jim Young’s AA/FD or the funny cars and altereds driven by his father Joe Haas. It was while his father Joe was the wheelman on Tom Motry’s wild “Drastic Plastic” Anglia fuel altered back in 2015 that Joey was given the so-called keys to license in it. It was on a warm August afternoon, that Joey climbed into the chromoly cage and made his first 5-second pass albeit lifting at 1,000ft.
Joey Haas burnsout in his 7 second blown alcohol Mustang funny car
On the way to his first 5! A 5.43 at 233 mph
Sometimes the driver is also the diver
Clearly Joey has the chops to move onto the next chapter of his racing career and he will begin those steps in the desert air of Phoenix. Moving into this type of machine doesn’t just require the prerequisite driving skills and the nerve that comes with strapping yourself into such a machine. It also requires a heavy financial commitment and as usual the drag racing community has proven once again to be a tight knit group that looks out for one another. In this case there have been a couple of drag racing philanthropists that have stepped up to the plate and can vouch for Joey’s ability and character. Earlier in this article several names were mentioned of drivers that have competed both in the nostalgia ranks and the Full Throttle Series. One of those names was John Hale who besides being a championship driver is also a successful business owner of the Best of Texas Barbeque Sauce, which is a presenting sponsor of Funny Car Chaos. Over the years while crewing and driving Joey and John’s paths have crossed and allowed for a relationship to build which has led to the backing of Joey’s NHRA debut. Additionally, Chip Lofton of Strutmasters fame who has become a benevolent sponsor of several nitro teams has also pitched in to turn this dream into a reality.
Joey getting fitted for his big show ride with Terry Totten's top fueler. Photo courtesy of Joey Haas
So, where does it go from here? Well as I stated Joey will be licensing shortly here at Phoenix. From there Joey will return to mix it up with the rest of the top fuel teams at the NHRA Arizona Nationals February 21-23. After this initial baptism Joey will be moving onto to another first in his career when he competes at the Denso Spark Plugs 4-Wide Nationals in Vegas where he will line up against three veterans of the 330 mph dragster class at a time. After that who can tell. Joey still has AA/FD ride and is working on building a new funny car. The Mustang/altered is still for sale and if is not sold maybe we will see him mix it up at a Funny Car Chaos event here and there. At 28, the recent Drag Illustrated 30 under 30 member has proven he has the capabilities, drive, and talent worthy of catching the attention of several racers, including Jim Young, John Hale, Chip Lofton, Steve McClain, and Terry Totten. He has now been given the opportunity on a large to stage to catch the attention of others in the drag racing world, while making his mark on the top fuel class and showing that he belongs. The Mello Yello Series is often referred to as the “Big Show” so with that in mind welcome to the show Joey!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Mike Sopko Jr.