As the Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series (MWDRS) presented by J&A Service heads to St. Louis this weekend, Stroud Safety Pro Mod driver Keith Haney is still mourning the loss of his late friend and competitor, Ronnie Hobbs. Haney is racing in memory of Hobbs at World Wide Technology Raceway’s Summer Speed & Fire Spectacular, the fifth race of the eight-race MWDRS season.
Haney was the next car in line to run behind Hobbs during a Friday night qualifying session at the MWDRS Great Bend Nationals two weeks ago when Hobbs lost his life in a top-end crash. Haney admits he’s struggled with the decision to race again so soon, but he believes it’s what Hobbs would’ve wanted.
“Is it going to be tough to strap in the car? Yeah,” said Haney, who’s also the founder and owner of the MWDRS. “I can tell you if I even thought about not racing, he would kick my butt. He loved racing and he would never want us to stop. So I’m going to strap back in that car and I’m gonna go racing. If I can win it for Ronnie, it’s going to be tough. We have a lot of tough competitors. But I’ll be running for Ronnie this weekend. He’ll be with me. If I win, I’m going to dedicate it to him. He was a good friend and a good person with a good family.”
Haney has found himself looking back on his memories of racing with Hobbs, who joined the MWDRS Pro Mod contingent in 2019. Hobbs often joked with Haney, whether it was over Haney’s preferred power adder, nitrous oxide, or the two drivers’ similarly themed race car nicknames.
“He always gave me a hard time,” Haney laughed. “Right before his accident, he came up to me, [tuner] Brandon Switzer, and Todd Martin [Haney’s business partner and fellow Pro Mod driver] as we were sitting on a golf cart in the lanes. He comes up in his usual Ronnie Hobbs way and puts out his first two fingers like snake fangs. Everyone knows his car was the ‘Texas Rattlesnake’ and mine is the ‘Black Mamba.’ He put the snake fangs on my car like ‘I’m gonna get ya.’ I’ll always have that last memory.”
Fortunately, St. Louis is a friendly, familiar track for Haney. It was one of the first MWDRS host tracks, and he’s good friends with WWT Raceway’s Executive VP and General Manager, Chris Blair.
“I love St. Louis – it’s one of my favorite tracks,” Haney said. “I’ve made it to a couple finals and won one. It’s a great facility, great staff, great paramedics. It’s just a wonderful track.”
As always, Haney is going racing with the support of his family and his crew, which includes tuner Brandon Switzer, Dale Hancock, Shane Goodnight, Steve Cooks, and Bobby Savedra.
“My wife (Misty) and my kids worry about all this stuff,” Haney said. “I can’t thank my family and my crew enough for supporting me in doing what I love, and that’s drag racing. I love the sport. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Even with the emotions surrounding the event, Haney remains fiercely competitive and determined to go some rounds with his Musi-powered, Bickel-built “Black Mamba” Camaro.
“I’m ready to take that Summit Racing/Strange Engineering car to the finals this weekend, Haney said. “Nitrous to the front.”
Haney and the MWDRS Pro Mod class will get two qualifying sessions on Friday at 5 and 8 p.m., as well as a final third session at noon on Saturday. Eliminations will follow at 4 p.m.
Fans can tune in to the official MAVTV Plus event livestream at www.MAVTVPlus.com.