CLOQUET — Last Friday, AJ House took his Hornet to Superior, but he broke down and didn’t finish the night.
But thanks to some prodding by his friend, Josh Row, they fixed the car Saturday morning, then came to race in Hibbing.
The Cloquet native made a good choice as he picked up the first feature win of his career last Saturday at the Hibbing Raceway.
Needless to say, getting that first feature win was something House won’t soon forget.
“It’s a track that I had never been to before, but my buddy was going up there, and he talked me into coming,” House said. “He helped me fix the car, and he talked me into coming.”
House has only been WISSOTA racing for three years, but he started out as a 13-year-old at an unsanctioned track in Barnum.
“My cousin, Kyle, has a hornet, and I liked watching him and helping him out,” House said. “I would help him strip cars and do little things like that. The car I was racing in Barnum is similar to a Hornet.
“I liked the thrill of going around and competing against the other cars.”
House bought his first actual Hornet three years ago.
“A friend of mine put it up for sale,” House said. “I bought it and stripped it out. All I had to do was put a cage in it. I knew a little bit about cars, some things here and there, and I’m a decent welder, too.”
Racing that car was a lot different than his days at Barnum.
“Barnum’s track is so small, so going to a bigger track, everything was faster and more competitive,” House said. “It was a learning curve. I didn’t do very well. I was lucky to get a top five. I did that one night that year.”
It might only be a Hornet, but there’s still an art to driving it.
“I had to learn how to handle the car, and how you need to drive it to keep up,” House said. “On these cars, the breaks are your best friend. It helps the car handle better. Slow is fast.”
House only drove at Proctor that first, then during his second campaign, this time in a new Hornet, he ventured to Proctor and to Ogilivie, but just one time.
He felt more comfortable behind the wheel that second season.
“I was a lot more confident,” House said. “One of my friends helped me out. He was always joking about the driver’s ed he gave me.”
If there’s one thing that has hampered House’s short career it’s been breakdowns.
“I was having bad luck with things breaking on the car,” House said. “I kept having tire problems. I was rolling the tire off of the beads, then I had wheel-bearing problems. It started getting frustrating.
“Something would break every time I went out.”
Like that night in Superior last week, but House and Rowe got the car together for a triumphant visit to Hibbing.
“I was just showing up to have some fun, but winning, it was exciting, especially because of the problems I was having,” House said. “It was definitely a confidence booster. It brought my spirits up a lot being able to go up there and win.”