Doug Pace: Havens looking to have a grand time racing in Las Vegas
Former Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion Mike Behar has been hard at work over the last year to get a new racing division started across the Inland Empire. In the early portion of Stateline Speedway’s season, Behar’s Baby Grands class – a car running a motorcycle motor with a two-thirds-scale late model or NASCAR Sprint Cup body attached – is proving to be popular.
This weekend, three of the class’ young guns, multitime Sunset Speedway champion Joey Bird, Behar’s daughter, Nicole, and 2010 Inland Northwest Super Stock Association rookie of the year Braeden Havens take their Baby Grands on the road to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring for a national event.
For Havens, who has had success at Stateline in the Baby Grands this spring, the chance to run something unique while preparing his late model to run next month is a welcome break.
“These cars are a lot easier to drive. Having the late model experience helps me to get the Baby Grand into the corner much further and to me they feel more like the go-karts I use to drive (at Sunset Speedway’s one-fifth-mile clay oval),” Havens said.
Having run nearly a month of testing in a brand new late model, Havens is looking forward to another chance to “play” in the Baby Grand world.
“This one in Las Vegas is the only one (of his scheduled Baby Grand starts) that we’ve focused on,” Havens said. “When we ran at Stateline it was a blast but it was kind of like a playtime approach. Each time since I’ve gotten into the car I’ve tried to push a little harder to see what they’ll do.”
The late model and Baby Grand categories do have some similarities that have helped Havens’ learning curve.
“The chassis and setups are similar in their approach. It is a coil-over (chassis) just shrunk down,” Havens said. “In our late model testing I have learned a lot from (late model crew chief) Chuck Carruthers to make changes to that car and then try them in smaller increments with the Baby Grand.”
Getting an opportunity to run the Bullring has taken a tremendous amount of work and dedication from Behar and Havens’ family.
“I owe a lot to Mike Behar for giving me the chance to hop into one of their cars and race up to this point. I really appreciate them picking me to be Nicole’s teammate to go to Las Vegas. Without my sponsors, Western Rail (owned by Havens’ father, Todd), Diesel Supply Company, Hilliard Enterprises and (Mike Behar’s) Custom Welding and Fabrication, I would not be going on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.”
Locals and travelers alike head to Las Vegas looking to find a big payday. The 17-year-old Havens is no different in his thoughts of tackling the Baby Grands Nationals this weekend.
“I don’t have that much pressure on myself but we know there will be people watching from NASCAR teams and I want to show them my talents,” Havens said.
“Any help I can draw on to have the chance to win this weekend will come from my experiences in the late model. You have to make such quick decisions and adjustments on the fly that with the Baby Grand going slower it will give me a bit more time to choose which line to run or what direction to go in with the car.”
Being one of the youngest qualifiers to the Idaho 200 is one such experience to use for a national-level event.
“The big races we’ve run, like the Idaho 200, have prepared me I believe to take this weekend on. Even the Montana 200, a race we haven’t made yet in two summers of trying, still has experiences to draw from that will help deal with whatever comes our way this weekend,” Havens said.
Fans can follow the progress of Havens, Behar and Bird by logging onto the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s website (lvms.com) or Havens’ website (killerb83.com).