"I grew up around racing. My grandpa raced and my dad raced, so I’ve always wanted to do it. It’s just the thrill and the excitement.
I just love going fast."
Katie Hettinger was born to race. She is a third-generation racer from Dryden, Michigan, who attended her first race at only four weeks old. By age five, she was racing Quarter Midgets. At first, it was only locally, but soon Hettinger was racing regionally and then nationally, collecting more than 40 wins.
At nine, she moved up to Junior Sprints and 600cc Micro Sprints, competing on dirt from 2016 through 2018. But pavement beckoned. A 12-year-old Hettinger transitioned to full-bodied stock cars in the CRA Junior Late Model Series and she proved to be a quick study.
After finishing fourth in the 2019 championship and earning the Sportsman of the Year award, Hettinger upped her game in 2020. She took two wins and earned three fast-time awards, one of which set a new track record at Anderson Speedway in Indiana. She ended the season as the 2020 CRA Junior Late Model Series champion – the first female champion in the series’ history.
Now at age 14, Hettinger has scrapped the “Junior” tag from her Late Model. She competes at the highest level of local stock car racing, commuting each week from Michigan to race in the southeastern hotbed of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.
“If I want to go to NASCAR, then I have to race down here and get used to everything,” Hettinger said. “But just driving in general, I’m comfortable with it, I’m used to it, and I’ve always just loved going fast.”