Auto Racing

Racing is the bonding activity of choice for Benton County's Ritter family

Shawn, Jami and Kenzie all get behind the wheel 3 times a week

Benton Community senior Kenzie Ritter races with her dad Shawn, pictured, and her mom, Jami. All three are in the Stock
Benton Community senior Kenzie Ritter races with her dad Shawn, pictured, and her mom, Jami. All three are in the Stock Car class at Benton County Speedway which races Sunday. Gates open at 4 p.m. (Justin Webster/The Gazette)

VINTON — Some behavior is predictable. This applies to the entire Ritter family of Keystone who can be found three times a week at the race track.

“Racing is our blood,” Shawn Ritter said. “That’s what we grew up on and that’s what we do.”

Ritter has raced since he was young, but took a break from 2006 to 2014 while he grew his hay grinding business.

“When I got back into it, I dove straight in with my Modified,” Ritter said. “The following year my wife got into a Sportmod and (daughter) Kenzie had her Hobby Stock.”

Over the course of the last few years, they have all moved into the Stock Car class.

“They are so much fun to drive and easy to work on,” Ritter said. “We’re having a blast.”

Kenzie Ritter, 17, drives the No. 121 car to match her January 21 birthday.

“It’s better for me to drive,” Kenzie said of the switch from Hobby Stock to Stock Car. “The experience I’ve gained is making me better every night, plus my dad’s helped me a lot because he’ll race it too and tell me what to do and can answer my questions if I need to ask.”

Kenzie’s mom, Jami just opened a screen printing business and is the third Ritter on the team that races Farley on Wednesdays, Marshalltown on Fridays and VInton on Sundays.

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“I’m pretty sure we are the only husband-wife-daughter trio in the history of the IMCA Stock Car class,” Shawn said. “This is the best family activity I can think of. We go boating and fishing, but racing is where it’s at.”

Kenzie, a soon-to-be senior at Benton Community said there’s no room for family feuds at the track.

“I don’t think of them as my parents, just other drivers,” Kenzie said. “It’s the same with my friends, it’s just fun to all be out there on the track.”

Once she graduates, Kenzie plans on working for her parents and already has her spare time booked.

“I may just work and go to college as a business major or graphic design,” Kenzie said. “No matter what I’m going to keep racing as long as I can.”

That is something the whole family can agree on.

Benton County Speedway will race Sunday with gates open at 4 p.m., hot laps beginning at 6 p.m. and drawings being held for back to school backpack night.

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