October 20, 2019

Cody Hansen carrying on family tradition in racing - Daily Leader Extra : Sports

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Cody Hansen carrying on family tradition in racing

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2019 3:09 pm

"Guess I had to have something to do on the weekends," smiled Cody Hansen.

That something was to don a tight-fitting fire suit, a fireproof mask and crash helmet -- despite temperatures in the high 90s -- climb aboard a high-powered sprint car and do battle with other speed merchants all looking to be first to the checkered flag.

It comes easy for Hansen, who has been going to the races since he was a little boy.

His dad, Kenny Hansen, was a multi-time track champion and standout 410 sprint car driver who never finished out of the top 10 in any year he competed. The elder Hansen was the track champion at Interlakes Speedway near Madison in 1990. In 1992, he claimed the sprint car crown at Huset's Speedway and also notched the National Championship Racing Association title at Park Jefferson. He has run with the World of Outlaws and won the C Feature at the famous Knoxville Nationals in Iowa in 1991.

Ever since Cody Hansen can remember, there has been a sprint car around the farm. Weekends were spent at the speedways. Racing is a way of life for the Hansens of Nunda. And, Cody is carrying on the tradition.

Back home or standing nearby the men's race cars in the pits are the Hansen women. Cody's mother Chris and his wife Crystal are racers, too, just not behind the wheels. While their men seek speedway wins, the women just watch and worry.

For Chris, it was a double worry with both men driving for a time. One time a violent crash in North Dakota left Kenny with the possibility of losing his arm. Chris worried. Kenny didn't. He healed up and went racing again.

When Kenny tossed his crash helmet into the bag for the last time, the racing mantle went to Cody. And, he's done quite well by himself. He isn't alone, of course. Kenny is still in the shop and the pits, but now the emphasis is on Cody.

"Ya can't afford to run two cars anymore," said Kenny. "It just costs too much. Racing used to be a hobby. Today it is a business."

Helping pick up the tab for this year's racing program are Midland Contracting, the Nunda Bar and Grill, Johnson Farms, Lance Trucking, Ahrendt Design, KO Farms, Flandreau Veterinary Clinic and, of course, Hansen Motorsports.

The business side of the equation is important. The Hansens are truckers and farmers -- big farmers.

"I've never hauled so many hogs as I have this year," said Kenny. "I do a lot of things that don't make much money," he laughed.

Besides racing, there was football. Cody was a standout football player. In his sophomore year, the championship races were scheduled for Saturday night at Madison. It was also the first game for the Oldham-Ramona-Rutland Raiders, who would play rivals Elkton. What did Cody do? He raced and has never looked back. He quit football in 2003 and devoted his efforts to racing.

"Mom and Dad didn't pressure me once," he said. "I do that myself."

Today he is more mature in his racing. He had learned both the mechanical and the on-track skills needed to be a top-flight sprint car pilot. He has also learned to balance the important things in his life, not the least which are wife Crystal and children Kenlee, 8, and Karson, 6.

Being a husband, father and farmer has curtailed his racing somewhat this year. At I-90 Speedway in Hartford on July 27, it was only his fifth race this year -- two appearances at the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota, one race at Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids and two at I-90.

"It's been sort of an up and down year," said Hansen.

He had praise for the fledging Midwest Sprint Touring Series, the brainchild of former racer Dale Furby.

"The purses are OK. The MSTS is about the only sprint car group running these days," said Hansen.

He likes the 360 division because it offers fair purses and good competition, and because most of the drivers are real professionals.

"Oh, you gotta watch out for a few beginning drivers, but for the most part this is a darn good racing division," he said.

From racing four-wheelers around the farm to careening around speedways near and far, Hansen is a young man to watch. Certainly a championship trophy could end up in the Hansen trophy case.

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