Driver Profile: Scotty Johnson

Driver Profile: Scotty Johnson
Monday, July 25, 2022
by Joanne Cram

Eighteen-year-old recent Melcher-Dallas High School graduate, Scotty Johnson is turning quite a few heads this season in the Pro Sprints class. His consistency each week has been helping Johnson climb the points standings to sit in a top three position as of now.

Scotty’s family wasn’t originally a sprint car family. When he was three years old, his dad took him to English Creek Speedway, just up the road from where the family lives. He knew at the ripe old age of three that he would be a sprint car driver one day, so he informed his dad that he wanted to race go karts. The next thing Scotty knew, a winged outlaw dirt kart showed up at the family shop. Being only three, he was too young to compete at ECS, so they would practice at ECS midweek until he turned four and could join the restricted class and start officially competing. Although dirt track racing wasn’t native to the Johnson family, dad, Corey, used to drag race in Eddyville, and he also raced the Enduro at Knoxville a couple times. “He had a top fivr finish, but his hopes of Knoxville Raceway Enduro fame were dashed when the engine over heated”, Scotty said. Naturally, the family needed to race something, so when Scotty showed interest in the winged outlaw karts, this was a great place for the father and son to start.

They raced karts for points for twelve years at ECS and in the off weeks would do some traveling to Texas and Thunder Hill in Wisconsin; “We hit a lot of tracks in between, anywhere we could race and get experience.” Climbing the ranks at ECS, Scotty started in the Restricted Box Stock Class, and joked, “My first season highlight was not getting lapped. A couple years after that, I started getting the hang of it and felt like I was getting competitive”.

2011 was Johnson’s first kart win, and first championship at seven years old at English Creek. In 2012 he won the championship again at ECS. In 2013, Scotty was old enough to move up to the box stock winged outlaw dirt cart, which meant no restrictor plate, more speed, more competition, and a lot of older kids. “This was a hard couple seasons because I was at the bottom of the age bracket again and I had to figure out how to handle the speed of the kart without the restrictor plate and how to handle the kart. We raced two seasons and I felt like we didn’t have a lot of success”. The Johnsons worked on growing their engine program, trying experimental engines for 2015-17, partnering with ECS to try to create new classes and grow the kart classes.

In 2018, he moved into the 500 class. “This class is a huge horsepower difference. I felt a lot out of control from the machine itself. It’s like trying to tame a wild buck. For people who don’t know what the 500 is like, imagine trying to run two inches off the ground running 70 miles per hour, it’s a real handful”. The team also continued to fight off a lot of engine issues that season.

The 2019 season found Johnson starting to figure the 500 out more consistently, gaining more control over the kart. The team figured out the engine issues. Scotty, Travis Hansaker and Nick DeMoss all three battled for the points championship all season. Even though Johnson ended the season with the most wins, he fell short of points and ended up in the runner up position. A highlight on the 2019 season was getting to race Mike Ayer’s 305 for the final 2 races at Knoxville. “The first night out I had a lot nerves and approached the track tentatively. The second night went a lot better, I let my guard down more, felt more comfortable in the car. We qualified in the top ten, and finished 12th. I was happy with that for my first ever appearances in a sprint car.”

Late 2019, Johnson was involved in a fuel incident and 30% of his body was burned. He was hospitalized for 32 days with third degree burns. During and after the hospitalization, there was a lot of intense physical therapy, painful bandage changes, a lot of range of motion physical therapy, surgeries to repair and release scar tissue, more surgeries for revision and release repair to help him move better. The burns were over the majority of his left arm, chest, bottom of his right arm, and neck. Johnson says he is thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was, because it could have been a lot worse.

Due to the accident, the 2020 season was diverted. The team was planning on racing the family car, but Jonson took the season off recovering. Family friend and veteran sprint car driver, Chris Walraven filled in. Scotty was able to race one night at the end of the season. “It was great to be back at Knoxville Raceway and behind the wheel, even for just one race.” He was also able to race Steve Wares’s 360 Engine at Lee County with the Sprint Invaders at the end of the 2020 season, but unfortunately got crashed on the first lap of the A Main, ending the night prematurely.

2021 was Johnson’s first full season at Knoxville Raceway in the 305 Pro Series class. He started out trying to figure the car out. “We crashed a couple times. Had to reign things in, learn set up, learn how to drive, be a better competitor on the track. I earned a lot of car control and driver patience that season.”

This season has been a nig step up in performance so far. The team has had four quick times, four runner up quick times, and has only qualified out of the top five once. Johnson is sitting third in points, with four wins, and eight top five finishes on the season thus far. “Putting myself in the position to win every weekend is huge,” said Scotty. “This class is very competitive this season, so being able to be in a position to be up front is a big deal.”

If the opportunity arises, Scotty hopes to run this year’s Knoxville Nationals with the newly acquired, family-owned 410. Next season he hopes to move up to the 410 class if the sponsorship dollars can be raised in the off-season. Long term dreams for Johnson are to race professionally with the World of Outlaws one day, but mainly be competitive at Knoxville in a 410. But first, Scotty plans to finish his finance degree at Central College in Pella, where he starts as a freshman in the fall. “At least this way, if professional racing doesn’t work out, I’ll have a high paying job to support my hobbies and racing.”

Johnson has a bright future ahead of him; his valedictorian 4.0 status will take him far in life with his work ethic and drive to excel in whatever he sets his sights on. He also has a great support system at home, with parents Corey and Kirsten, and brother, Brody. His crew includes Gregg Vanwyk, Sam Konrad, Seth Walraven, Chris, Walraven, Brody Johnson, Corey Johnson, and Russ Ferguson.

Sponsors of the #44 are Cold Fire, Joshua Jenkins Realty, Albaugh LLC, Hooties MD, Goodno Promotion, Tub O-Towels, The Hoch Family, Waukee Power Equipment, Atwell Trucking, Curry’s Custom Carpentry, Nana & Papa Dock, Doug DeJong Farms, The Krpan Family, Ron and Barb Van Wyk, Skyler Williams, Doug Baber Racing, Dan Henning Racing, JF2 Racing.

Merchandise is for sale after the races, or you can message Scotty on his official Facebook page “Scotty Hotshot Johnson”.