Iowa racer McKenna Haase made her second appearance on the NBC competition Monday night during night five of qualifiers at the Tacoma Dome located in Tacoma, Washington, just outside of Seattle. She also took part in American Ninja Warrior during Season 11 in 2019 after starting Ninja Warrior training two years prior.
Sprint Car driver McKenna Haase made her second appearance on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, which aired Monday night.
The application process to be included on the show is extensive – only a few hundred people out of potentially hundreds of thousands of applicants are selected to be on the show each year. Haase explains what she and her fellow competitors experience, up to and including taking on the course.
“We had to submit an application, they say there’s like 70,000 to 100,000 applicants, they take about 300 to 400. You have to submit a video showing your skills and a really long written application,” Haase told Speed51.
You don’t actually try out, you either make the show or you don’t. That’s a common misconception. If you’re selected, you show up and you run the course. You don’t get to see the course ahead of time, you don’t get any practice runs, you just run it on the show. What you see on TV is everybody’s first shot and their first time seeing the course.
It was a long journey just for Haase to be able to compete this season. She was injured in a highway accident on the way back to where she now lives in Indiana following an All Star Circuit of Champions show at Fremont Speedway (OH) in October.
It was an arduous road to recovery for her, who was cleared to resume activities just before taping for Season 13 was set to take place.
“I was in a car accident over the offseason and I was cleared to be on the show like three weeks before the actual show. I only had three weeks to train, whereas everybody else had been training all year. It was really challenging for me because there was a really good chance I wasn’t going to be able to compete.”
What fans of the show see is just part of the whole American Ninja Warrior experience, of which Haase has now been able to experience on two occasions. Getting to experience it all with her fellow competitors have been just as memorable for her as getting to take on the course in front of a national audience.
“It’s been amazing. That’s the whole part that people don’t get to see behind the scenes. Running the course has been incredible, but just getting to meet all the people and getting to do all the filming has been really fun.
“This year with COVID only the ninjas were allowed to be on the show, there were no family or friends. That gave us a lot of time to be together, making memories exploring Seattle and swimming in the hot tub and going out to eat and all that stuff. It was a lot of fun to be together.”
Her ninja presence has now transferred over to the racetrack, where she first burst onto the scene by becoming the first female to win a Sprint Car feature at Knoxville Raceway in May 2015. In total, she has won three 305 features and two 360 features at the famed half-mile.
Long having donned her original nickname “Sassy” on the front of her wing, she has now changed it to read “Ninja” due to her exposure on the show.
We changed it from Sassy to Ninja, which my family wasn’t really happy about. Ever since I was on the show the first time, people in racing would just call me Ninja all the time so I thought it would be cool to do a Ninja-themed car and merchandise and everything else.
She hopes to return on the show in future seasons, but she also wants to do it when she feels ready to put on the best performance that she possibly can.
“I haven’t really been able to train at all this year. Applications are in December so it depends on what I’m able to do by then. We’ll see, I’d love to return to the show once again but I want to do it when I’m ready.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo