Find a challenge. Create a good, efficient and cost-effective solution. Repeat. For Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), this has proven to be his formula for success in business, racing and philanthropy. In 1978, Haas founded Proturn Engineering, working side by side with his two employees, machining parts for the electronics and aerospace industries. He eventually evolved its success into Haas Automation, Inc., and after a series of inventions, including his first vertical machining center (VMC) in 1987, Haas Automation continued to expand – leading to its current 1-million-square-foot location in Oxnard, California.
Haas’ desire to innovate and tackle new challenges goes beyond his interest in machine tools. In 2007, Haas built Windshear, one of the most advanced automotive wind tunnels in the world. It opened to its first customer, a Formula One Team. The facility’s centerpiece is a rolling road, which allows a full-size car to be restrained in place directly on top of a massive, treadmill-like stainless steel belt rotating at speeds up to 180 mph.
In 2003, Haas’ passion for auto racing lead him to form his own NASCAR Cup Series team: Haas CNC Racing. Haas made headlines in 2008 when he announced that he was partnering with Tony Stewart, fielding two NASCAR Cup Series entries – one for Stewart and another for Ryan Newman. In 2009, Stewart recorded its first point-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory making it the first time a driver/owner won a point-paying NASCAR Cup Series race since Ricky Rudd in 1998.
In August 2011, SHR added a third team for IndyCar star Danica Patrick and two years later made history at the Daytona 500 with her pole win, the first NASCAR Cup Series pole ever won by a woman. The SHR team grew again with the addition of Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, who wasted no time racking up back-to-back victories. Fast-forward to 2016, SHR announced that it would switch manufacturers to Ford beginning with the 2017 season. Its inaugural year with Ford started off with a bang, as Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500.