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The Gartner family has racing in their blood

The Gartners have been racing for decades.

Scott Gartner
Jamestown's Scott Gartner (0) drag races Dominic Ursetta (6), of Arvada, Colorado, and Collen Winebarger (S), of Corbett, Oregon, during the 32nd annual Dakota Classic Modified Tour held at Jamestown Speedway July 10, 2021.
Michael Savaloja / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Racing and family go hand in hand for Scott Gartner, a third-generation driver following in the footsteps of his grandfather John Sr. and father John Jr.

Gartner is not the only racer of his generation as his brother, John III, and sister, Melissa Ketterling, also race or have raced. The next generation is also getting involved in the sport as Ketterling’s son, Reed, also races.

“It’s a definite lifestyle that everybody is involved,” Scott Gartner said. “My dad helps me out a lot, my wife, my in-laws, everybody is into it. We’re always at the race track together, nothing we’d do on Friday and Saturday nights other than that.”

Scott started racing in 2006 with the hobby stock cars before moving to IMCA Modified cars. He sits in first place with one win and six top-five finishes for 227 points. Scott said for him to maintain his lead he has to avoid crashing and get off to a good start.

“Everything has to go my way because the way the points are set up and how we start for our features I start towards the back since I’m the points leader and I have a better points average,” he said. “It’s hard to work through the field so everything has to go my way almost in a sense.”


Scott also races on Friday nights at the Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, where he is sitting in ninth place. Gartner said his Saturdays are mostly spent working on the car to get it ready.

“Whether that’s tire work or maintenance on the car or whatever needs to be done," Scott said. "So we come back from Mandan, get the car ready. My nephew races and we help him out or whatever. We get to the track and hang out.”

John Gartner III has raced hobby stocks, bombers and IMCA stock cars at tracks around the area. He said he prefers the hobby stock cars because of the affordability of putting one together.

“They each have their own stock appearing characteristics where you can do a lot of your buying for the junkyard for replacement parts,” John said. “Where all the other classes it’s like a name brand chassis, name brand motor, name brand racing transition, or shocks. Every time you put a store-bought part on it, it increases the price of it.”

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John is in 19th place in the bombers class at Jamestown Speedway with one top-five finish. He has one win overall, taking the checkered flag in the hobby stock race at the Dacotah Speedway on June 10. John said he has to get lucky to get another win when he heads to the track for the next time out.

“It’s pretty tough sometimes you go out there and there is nothing you can do cause it’s a freight train, everybody is pretty equal and then the next week you go out and win by a straight away,” he said. “It’s sometimes where you start that makes a difference. Sometimes bad luck happens where you’re involved in a wreck in the first corner and you’re done. This past weekend I was mid-pack the one night and then I was battling for the lead the next night. It kind of humbles you at the same time.”

John said the biggest key to being successful in all of the different classes is taking care of the cars and making sure they are all fixed up when you get to the track.

Scott said he is thinking about his strategy and what he has to do to finish the night in the winner’s circle in the moments before the race starts.


“Usually it’s very hot when you’re in staging,” Scott said. “So, you are usually wishing you were not in that position in that very moment. You forget all about that once you get on the track. The only thing I’m thinking of is who I’m gonna beat and how I’m gonna beat them, what the track conditions are doing, observing all that right before you start.”

The racing community is extremely competitive with each other but Scott said they are also very nice and friendly.

“The very social aspect of racing,” Scott Gartner said. “It’s fun to have friends and family out there doing the same thing you’re doing every weekend. Obviously, the adrenaline rush is pretty fun and that’s what keeps us going for all the work we do throughout the week and all the money we spend. The social aspect is probably the best part about it.”

My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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