“I got started racing when …” PART ONE by GUNNER JOHNSON




I got started racing when I was 11 years old. My grandfather Jeff Flaugher purchased a dirt racing go-kart and said, “Let’s see what you can do.”

I had never sat in or drove a go-kart before, so we went out and practiced up on Deer Creek at a track in some man’s yard. 

I can’t even explain how it felt. I mean, really, I was 11. I had no idea what these new emotions were! My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I was almost shaking with excitement. So I managed to do pretty well, and slowly grasped how it all worked. 

We went out to the local Carter County Fair a few weeks after. I had no idea how my feelings would change. I went from being extremely excited to about half afraid as my kart was unloaded. Then it happened- my kart failed. I wasn’t going be able to race. Out of no where, in came Charlie Swartz.



I was about to die from excitement! I have been a fan of his for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t believe I was standing next to Charlie, and he was helping my grandfather with my kart.  Unfortunately it wasn’t getting fixed for that night’s race. So, Charlie had brought an extra kart with him that night; his grandson Lucas Crooks was racing that night. Charlie offered to let me drive the extra kart, and I thought, “There’s no way this is happening! Not only have I met a legend of the dirt racing sport, but I’m going to be driving his kart and running with his grandson!”

 This was overwhelming for 11 year old me.

I finished 2nd that night, right behind Lucas – it was amazing!



I never had a feeling like that before; I was hooked. After the race, Charlie came over and congratulated me on the run. He said to continue racing, and hopefully one I’d be in a Swartz car. 

That’s still my dream and I’ll never forget that day the rest of my life.

-Gunner Johnson


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