UPDATE 2: Fenhaus Impresses!

It turns out, Luke Fenhaus’ appearance vs. a who’s who of racing legends was more than a side show: In fact, the 17-year-old put on a great show and nearly won the event!

In fact, Fenhaus led more laps than anybody in the nationally televised SRX 150-lap final at Slinger Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin. He held off repeated challenges by Tony Stewart — running side-by-side with the Hall of Fame NASCAR legend for dozens of laps and regaining the lead at times using both the low and high lanes on the tight quarter-mile track. Late in the race, Fenhaus’ challenge came from Indycar legend Marco Andretti of the famous Andretti family.

Fenhaus looked to have the race in the bag, taking the while flag with a comfortable lead, when a crash in turn four caused a yellow flag and restart. On that restart, Andretti appeared to get a jump on the outside and sped away to victory, with Fenhaus a solid second.

Aside from a fun night of racing, Fenhaus got a TON of exposure in the sport of auto racing and earned endless praise for both his driving and his winning personality from other racers, announcers and more.

After the race, Stewart was quoted as saying, “Getting to spend the day with that kid has been the highlight of my day, to be honest. I meet this kid and in five minutes, I really liked the kid. He’s the most composed 17-year-old kid I’ve ever seen….There’s kids in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series that don’t have the composure that this guy has. I hope somebody will give him a shot—even if it’s a one-race deal.”

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Now, back to the original story explaining how the son of a snowmobile racing star ended up on the track against car racing royalty:

Luke Fenhaus To Take On NASCAR, Indy Legends

Longtime snowmobile oval racing fans are going to be able to see a familiar name on their TVs on Saturday night, but this time it’s a next-generation protege making the headlines.

     Luke Fenhaus, the 17-year-old son of 1993 Eagle River World Champion Al Fenhaus and potential rising star in auto racing, will compete in the SRX (Superstart Racing Experience) event that will be covered live on CBS. And he’ll be racing against incredible hall-of-fame talent in identically prepared cars.

      How big are the names? How about NASCAR all-timers Bill Elliot, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Greg Biffle, Michael Waltrip and Willie T. Ribbs, plus Indycar legends Helio Castroneves, Paul Tracy and Marco Andretti. Those legendary nine racers will be joined by three rising stars: TransAm roadracer Ernie Francis Jr., Camping World Truck Series’ Hailie Deegan and Mr. Luke Fenhaus of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Only 12 hand-selected drivers will compete in the Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham all-star, make-for-TV event — and one of them will be Al Fenhaus’ kid!!

     Luke Fenhaus’ racing career started on snowmobiles – a Kitty Cat he started burning laps on at age 4. He quickly progressed to wheeled fun, though, taking up go kart racing by age 7 and then the Bandolero series two years later. In 2017 he was also running a limited season – and winning feature events – in the Midwest Truck Series at age 13. And his star just keeps on rising.

Luke Fenhaus, the 17-year-old son of snowmobile racing legend Al Fenhaus. Images from the Lukefenhausracing.com website.

     Last Saturday, July 6, he became the youngest winner ever of the prestigious Slinger Nationals at Slinger, Wisconsin – and that victory got him a seat in the SRX race to be held at the same race track on Saturday, July 10.

     In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel highly respected motorsports writer Dave Kallman, Luke Fenhaus said, “It’s going to be awesome to race against them guys and talk to them guys and learn some things, but it’s for sure a once-in-a-lifetime deal.”

     Later he added, “I want to win it really bad, of course, but I’m going to enjoy the moment, too.”

Back to Al Fenhaus, aside from his breakthrough 1993 World Championship victory at Eagle River racing for Goodwin Performance, he scored many wins elsewhere before retiring from racing and becoming a master sled tuner behind another star oval racer in snowmobiling — his nephew, 2010 and 2016 World Champion Matt Schulz. Al also worked for Yamaha’s snowmobile division in various aspects over the years. In most recent years, though, he has been largely behind Luke’s budding car racing efforts.

The live SRX coverage on CBS is from 8 to 10 Eastern time on Saturday, July 10. We’ll be tuning in, will you?

UPDATE: Quotes from the Fenhaus Duo

After the story was first posted, we spoke with Al Fenhaus late Friday while he and Luke were in the truck returning from a session where Luke got “fitted up” for the unique SRX car he’ll be racing.

     “I’m very excited about it, it’s kind of hard to believe, you know?” Al Fenhaus told us Friday afternoon. “It’s definitely nothing I ever expected. Luke is pretty excited, I think he was very excited just to win the [Slinger National] race and never really thought about the golden ticket into the SRX thing until after it happened.”

     With Luke being just 17, we asked Al if his son fully grasped the legends he was racing again. “Not really. I mean he’s been following Tony Stewart and stuff, but as for knowing a Bill Elliot or Paul Tracy and their place in the sport? Not really, not at his age.”  

While Friday’s session allowed the SRX team to get the seat, steering wheel and pedal adjusted to Luke’s liking, the young driver’s first time driving the custom SRX cars will be tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. when 3 hours of practice begins. Then it’s on to heat races and the final.

The car he’s racing will be quite a bit different than what he normally drives. The SRX vehicles feature fuel-injected, 700 horsepower engines, Al told us, but don’t have off-set chassis designs like most oval cars. Luke’s current late model makes 500 horsepower, features an off-set design and weighs several hundred pounds less than the SRX vehicles.

Al then turned the phone over to Luke, who described himself as “a little nervous but excited for the opportunity. It’s a dream-come-true for sure.”

While a veteran “local” driver did win one SRX event earlier this year after getting into the event much like Luke did, it would be a major upset for a guy going into his senior year of high school in the fall to beat these legends. But always the racer, Luke Fenhaus isn’t cancelling out the possibility.

“Leaning the car is going to be tricky,” he acknowledged, but said, “I’d love to run really well and hopefully put on a show, and we’ve got some really good experience at Slinger.”

UPDATE 2: Fenhaus Impresses!

It turns out, Luke Fenhaus’ appearance vs. a who’s who of racing legends was more than a side show: In fact, the 17-year-old put on a great show and nearly won the event!

In fact, Fenhaus led more laps than anybody in the SRX 150-lap final at Slinger Speedway. He held off repeated challenges by Tony Stewart — running side-by-side with the hall of fame NASCAR legend for dozens of laps. Late in the race, the challenge came from Indycar legend Marco Andretti of the famous Andretti family.

Fenhaus looked to have the race in the bag, taking the while flag with a comfortable lead, when a crash in turn four caused a yellow flag and restart. On that restart, Andretti appeared to get a jump on the outside and sped away to victory, with Fenhaus a solid second.

Aside from a fun night of racing, Fenhaus got a TON of exposure in the sport of auto racing and earned endless praise for both his driving and his winning personality from other racers, announcers and more. After the race, Stewart was quotes as saying, “Getting to spend the day with that kid has been the highlight of my day, to be honest. I meet this kid and in five minutes, I really liked the kid. He’s the most composed 17-year-old kid I’ve ever seen….There’s kids in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series that don’t have the composure that this guy has. I hope somebody will give him a shot—even if it’s a one-race deal.”

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