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Keith Haney Reflects on Throwdown in T-Town Success Following Rain-Soaked MWDRS Season Start

Chris Sears photo

Now a few days removed from the first race of the Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season – a full two months after the scheduled season opener – Keith Haney can finally take a breath. The MWDRS series founder, reigning Stroud Safety Pro Mod season champion, and co-owner of Osage Casino & Hotel Tulsa Raceway Park just completed a spring Throwdown in T-Town that was successful both on track and off track. Haney picked up the win while racing in front of thousands of fans, including local family, friends, and employees. 

The MWDRS season opener at Xtreme Raceway Park was first postponed from mid-March to late April, then canceled entirely, both due to rain. The second race of the season at Pine Valley Raceway was scheduled for the weekend before the XRP makeup date, but it too was postponed to October 4-5 due to rain. The week before the Throwdown, six and a half inches of rain soaked the grounds at Tulsa, flooding the pits and turning the place into a muddy mess. The track crew cleaned up the facility, but the area was hit with tornadoes and more rain Monday night, adding to the mess. A team of volunteers got to work and spent the next couple days cleaning up and completing a variety of new-season projects to prepare for the coming crowd. 

Steven Wilson photo

Haney was admittedly feeling the weight of it all, but when the forecast cleared up for the rest of the week, he knew his team could pull off the event. 

“I was stressed because I’m a race car driver, I’m a track owner, and I’m a series owner,” Haney said. “I have family and friends and it’s my local home track, so it was nice to know that we got it off. We had a little rocky start on Friday, just not racing for however long it’s been, seven months, as far as the series goes, but we ended up pulling it together and having an absolutely outstanding live-streaming event with a lot of in-pit interviews. The fan interaction was unbelievable. We were shooting T-shirt cannons and Frisbees like we always do, and two-for-one beers, and all kinds of cool stuff that we’ve always done. But what’s different is this was our best Throwdown since 2015.”

Haney says the track went back to marketing the event the way they did early on in its history. A jet truck added to the MWDRS lineup of Pro Mod, Alcohol Funny Car, Pro 4.20, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, and Jr. Dragsters. It was a free ticket event with a paid parking pass, and once fans have that parking pass, they’re free to come and go as they please. Over the course of the weekend, Haney says around 27,000 people between spectators, racers, and crew members came through the gates. 

“All the bad of having rainouts and all that all went away,” Haney said of the positives of the weekend. “Our sponsors seen it and loved it, our fans seen it and loved it, and our signups on FloRacing were the best since we started with Flo.”

On-track, Haney qualified No. 5 in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Musi-powered “Black Mamba” Camaro and picked up round wins over Mike Labbate and Jon Stouffer in the first two rounds. He made it through a major semifinal matchup with No. 1 qualifier Mark Micke, who went red in his twin-turbo M&M Transmission ’69 Camaro. Earlier in the day, Haney helped Micke and team swap in a new engine. The 2023 MWDRS Pro Mod champion then used a 3.694 to defeat 2019 series champion Aaron Wells and his 3.727 in the final round. 

“I wanted it, but I knew it was going to be a tough road to get there,” Haney said. “Brandon Switzer knows how to race. You don’t have to be the fastest, you got to be the most consistent, and that’s what he is 90% of the time. 

“But to win was special,” added Haney, who thanked his crew. “My wife, my family, and hundreds of my employees were there. Did it at home. It was just pretty awesome. There were a whole lot of people in the winner’s circle with us.”

Damon Steinke / E3xtreme photos

Now that Haney and the MWDRS have the ball rolling, he’s hoping both the race team and the series can keep building momentum. 

“Hopefully we don’t get beat up with rain. That’s our biggest nemesis,” Haney said. “But I’m excited to go to Flying H Dragstrip. [Track owner] Scott Higgs threw in $2,500 to our Slammers class with no entry fee, and everybody got paid out in that one. I’m excited to go to Flying H twice this year. St. Louis will have a big fireworks show, jet cars, all that. I’m excited about Martin, Michigan. I’m excited about the World Finals. If everything goes good weather-wise, we’ll have an amazing year, even missing one race.”

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Joining Haney as Throwdown winners are Ron Muenks in Pro Mod Slammers, Annie Whiteley in J&A Service Funny Car, Jeremy Maples in Icon Forged Pistons Top Dragster, Rod Moore in Performance Bearing Top Sportsman, James Ogden in M&M Transmission Pro 4.20, Alexis Kesterson in Race Star Wheels Pro Jr. Dragster, Breccan Whiteley in Zimmerman Properties Sportsman Jr. Dragster, and Rage Ragland in Jr. Slammers. Read the full event recap here

This story was originally published on May 17, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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