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Kyle Hough finally handed keys to fast family ride, set to make Nanook debut at Arizona, San Antonio Nitro Jams

Thursday, 15 March 2012

There is nothing cooler as a kid than finally getting the keys to the family car.


Whether an old station wagon, truck, fixer-upper or, if you are lucky, a fancy new ride, the feeling of finally getting behind the wheel is one of both extreme exhilaration and overwhelming freedom.

But what if the family car you have been waiting for your whole life isn’t your typical grocery getter? What if your first car requires safety harnesses and a roll cage? That is where 19-year-old Kyle Hough comes into the picture. Your typical teenager in just about every way, Kyle is smart, charismatic and, by the way, just so happens to drive a 230 mile per hour nitro machine in his spare time.  

Not exactly your typical first car, that is for sure.

As it turns out Kyle is the grandson of legendary racer Dave Hough, the original driver of the famous Nanook Fuel Altered, and the son of second generation Nanook racer Rick Hough. And ever since he was a boy Kyle has been patiently awaiting his turn to get behind the wheel of one of the most famous drag racing vehicles ever to grace the quarter-mile and continue the family business of entertaining thousands of race fans around the world.

“My earliest memories are of my father driving that car for the very first time in 1999,” Hough recalls. “From that moment on I have simply been waiting for my turn. When I was about 13 I started to actually tear into the motor and work on the car and that just pushed me even further. I knew this was for me and I knew I wanted to drive.”

The Nanook Fuel Altered first debuted in 1965 with veteran racer Dave Hough behind the wheel. Hough campaigned the wild machine across the United States, Canada, Mexico and even England, setting records and winning races around the world. One of those records, an incredible 6.18 second elapsed time at 236 mph back in 1977, stood for over a decade.

Dave drove the car off and on for the better part of 34 years before his son Rick took over the famous ride in 1999. Rick too had plenty of success behind the wheel of the Nanook, but an unfortunate accident at Gainesville in 2006 forced him to retire from driving prematurely.

With the Hough family unfortunately unable to continue to drive the legend that they created, they handed over pilot duties to other family members and eventually Ron Maroney at the end of 2010. With a new fulltime home for the class on the Nitro Jam tour beginning in 2011, Maroney campaigned Nanook in its first full season and did incredible things behind the wheel, racking up five wins and piloting the car to its first championship in its maiden Nitro Jam voyage.

But while Maroney was taking Nanook to new heights, third generation racer Kyle was busy behind the scenes making training passes with the goal of one day taking over his family’s famous ride. And after 46 years of racing, eight versions of Nanook and multiple wins in multiple countries, Kyle will finally get his chance to do something few have done before him when he debuts behind the wheel of Nanook at the Arizona Nitro Jam March 23-24 at Southwestern International Raceway with a full season of Nitro Jam racing ahead.

“I have always dreamed of driving the car after my grandfather and father and I knew my day would eventually come,” Hough said. “I just didn’t think it would come this fast! It means so much to be a third generation racer. I believe I am one of the only third generation drivers out there that is driving the same car that my grandfather and father both drove.

“It means a lot to me and my family, but it also says a lot about the sport. Drag racing is a family game and I am honored to be a part of it.”

To prepare for his big debut, Kyle spent the better part of his childhood behind the wheel of a Junior Dragster with hopes of one day taking over the green and brown monster. Kyle also spent a lot of time behind the scenes, traveling with the team and working on the car. With every victory and every defeat, Kyle had an opportunity to experience life as a racer from a very early age. After making a few test passes, Kyle finally got his license in 2010 and has made roughly 16 passes between the two variations of the car. Kyle’s best run to date is a 6.41, 228 at Bakersfield in September.

Now Kyle will try to fill the shoes of his famous family in addition to the big aspirations of the car Maroney just got through piloting to the championship last year. And he will waste little time getting acclimated to his surroundings. Kyle will be behind the wheel at all eight Nitro Jam events on the 2012 season, competing against other famous Fuel Altereds such as Pure Hell, Bradford’s Fiat, Pure Heaven, Rat Trap and even Blind Faith driven by, you guessed it, defending champ Ron Maroney.

“I am very excited for my debut and a little nervous at the same time,” Hough said. “I just want to go out and make a great first pass and put on a show for the fans. Win or lose it is all for the fans. They are the reason this family keeps racing. So putting on a show for them will be my biggest goal.”

And fans won’t have to wait long to see as Kyle and Nanook to start the year as Kyle prepares for back-to-back races in Arizona and Texas to start the 2012 season at the Arizona Nitro Jam March 23-24 followed by the San Antonio Nitro Jam March 30-31.

“My family and I would like to thank IHRA for bringing Fuel Altereds back so that fans all over America can see them run again,” Hough said. “We look forward to 2012 and putting on a great show for the fans and for IHRA.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 May 2013
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