Saturday afternoon at Dells Raceway Park (WI), Nathan Haseleu loaded up his race car for the final time. After 21 years of racing, the Sun Prairie, WI driver is calling it a career.
“I made the decision at the beginning of the season,” Nathan Haseleu told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When I had to talk myself into going to the races, I figured it was probably time to do something different.”
There’s no doubt that over the past two decades, Haseleu has been one of the most successful drivers in the Midwest. His career began running Hobby Stocks at Columbus Motor Speedway (OH) and Jefferson Speedway (WI) and the young driver saw success right away, claiming the Hobby Stock State Championship, a moment that still remains one of his favorite.
“I was just 16 and just the thrill of winning it,” said Haseleu. “We used to go there for the weekend as kids and then winning it back to back was like winning the Daytona 500.”
Haseleu’s career took him all the way to the NASCAR Camping World Tuck Series, where he recorded four top-10 finishes in the early 2000’s before returning to Wisconsin and tackling the Super Late Model scene. Over the next 10 years Haseleu continued to make a name for himself in Midwest short track racing.
He won three straight Wisconsin Challenge Series titles, from 2005-2007 and captured a series high 10 wins. In 2007 Haseleu doubled up, winning both the Wisconsin Challenge Series Championship and the first ever Midwest Tour Championship.
“Probably in 2005, 2006 and 2007 in Wisconsin Challenge Series, Midwest Tour, Madison and other tracks was the most fun I had racing,” said Haseleu. “We raced a lot at that time and we had a lot of success. When you are doing good it is a lot more fun.”
For the next eight years, Haseleu concentrated most of his efforts with the Midwest Tour, winning nine races and earning 65 top-10 finishes in 85 starts. While he would not win another Tour championship, he finished runner-up twice and third three times and never outside of the top eight in points.
But more than the wins and titles, racing was a family event for Haseleu. Each and every weekend he was surrounded by his parents, siblings, wife and kids at the track, and they did everything from work on the car to offer endless support.
“My parents have helped the whole time,” said Haseleu. “My dad has been a big influence and help. With Jessica, Coy and Leyton we have had a lot of fun experiences – from driving to the races, staying at hotels, being in the pits and going to victory lane.”
The driver of the No. 87 machine was also well respected by fellow competitors. Two times Haseleu was voted a recipient of the Larry Detjens Sportsmanship Award, an award handed out since 1987.
“He’s a very smart racer and definitely the cleanest racer in our generation,” said fellow competitor Dan Fredrickson. “It’s been great to compete against him.”
As Haseleu hangs up his race suit and reflects on a storied short track career, his advice to those who wish to follow in his footsteps is simple.
“Be professional,” said Haseleu. “Have a nice looking car, clean equipment and nice driver suit. Learn as much as you can about making your car fast because it doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are if you don’t have a fast racecar.”
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Speed51.com