Racing's a family business in Monona - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Racing's a family business in Monona

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Gatlin Keehner knows how to get it done on the track.  Gatlin's in his first season running in the Traxxas Off-Road Championship Series and still has a shot at rookie of the year status in the Sportsman division.  He trails his competition by just 5 points in the series.

By the way, Gatlin is just 16 years old.

"He did fabulous the first weekend," said his dad Justin, "There were 16 guys.  He finished 4th on Saturday, and third on fathers day.  Top 3 go to the podium, so there's an eye opener for a lot of the old veteran racers.  They were wondering where did this kid come from."

Gatlin picked up the sport from his dad.  Justin spent much of this season running in the pro division, but doesn't plan on racing in the final weekend.

Justin already had Gatlin in the truck by age 12, running around the fields and the lawn by their farmhouse just outside of Monona.

"Dad used to throw me in it when I was a kid," said Gatlin, "We've got a racetrack here in the front yard.  We would go out and jump terraces in the field when they got done combining it."

There's no doubt this sport looks dangerous, but safety is a number one issue for the Keehners.

"There's fire extinguisher system in the truck," said Gatlin, "There are roll cages, a 6 point harness, hans device to keep your neck going forward, back, side to side, helmet on, fire suit.  Everything's fire proof."

"I know these trucks.  I know how they're built, and I'm not worried," added Justin.

They have proof as to how well these trucks hold  up.  Justin has taken several tumbles during his career, while Gatlin, in one of his early races, has also briefly seen the world from upside down.

"Dad was talking to me on the radio, and he said try to run the outside line.  So, I tried it, hooked a rut, and flipped over."

"Next thing I know, he's on 2 wheels and I'm like, oh, here we go," said Justin, "He dumped it over, went back on all 4's.  It fired back up, away he went.  H ended up finishing 9th out of 14 guys, so not too bad."

That's a situation he'd like to stay out of this Friday in the biggest race of his career, the sportsman division Crandon, Wisconsin.

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