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Gary Klutt is known in the NASCAR Pinty's Series garage for almost always having a smile on his face. (Matthew Manor/NASCAR)

Getting to Know: Gary Klutt

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a continuing series of offseason profiles on NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers as a lead-up to the 2018 opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, May. 20.

Alex Gallacher (NASCAR Home Tracks): What sparked your interest in racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series?

Gary Klutt (NASCAR Pinty’s Series Driver): How it really came about for me was my dad had always been running a little bit of road course stuff and a little Trans-Am back in the day. He realized that this Pinty’s Series was super competitive on the road courses, so he bought a car and he started doing just Mosport and Montreal. One of his customers at Legendary Motorcar wanted to do it as well, so he bought another car, the No.59, he ran it for about a season on the road courses. Then in 2010 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park he couldn’t make the race so I got the opportunity to run the car. The was my first start fresh out of go-karts.

AG: Your family has always been big on racing, what was it like racing alongside Ryan and your father Peter?

GK: I think it was definitely a dream come true for my dad, he always wanted the three of us to race together in a race. Whether we shared a ride during an endurance race or doing Pinty’s. I think the opportunity was definitely there and we had just bought an oval car for me to run the 2015 season and we quickly converted it to a road course car for Ryan to run some road courses. It was really really cool, but obviously I still had to try and beat both of them.

AG: Who was your biggest influence growing up?

GK: Biggest influence for me growing up and in racing has always been my dad. He is always someone to look up to and has one of the best attitudes, never takes no for an answer work ethic. That really lends itself to being a race car driver when you have to go and get things done in a race.

AG: You had the opportunity to run the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. Talk about the experience you had racing alongside some of NASCAR’s best.

GK: It’s probably one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in a race car so far, or at least most surreal anyway going out for practice. I really just put my head down that weekend and tried my hardest to give the best possible feedback to the team. We didn’t get six laps in practice, we had a battery issue. Then we had a big shake in the second practice so we kinda went into qualifying and the race a little bit fresher than I would’ve liked. Blew the qualifying lap a little bit, we only had one shot at it, but we still qualified good.

We went for the race and drove real hard to what the crew chief was saying about fuel strategy and it was neat. I got to battle with Boris Said, one of those guys I grew up watching when he would come up to Canada in the Trans-Am Series, he has been one of my racing heroes so it was cool to battle alongside him. We changed our pit strategy near the end, with 10 laps to go I had to save about three laps of fuel. That was definitely new for me because I’ve never been put in that position before, we actually ran out of fuel coming out of the carousel and we had to coast it across the line. It was a total NASCAR road course fuel saving experience.

RACING-REFERNCE: Gary Klutt

Gary Klutt was a member of the NASCAR Next program and has raced in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

AG: You and your father are co-hosts of the show Legendary Motorcar. How did this whole TV show deal come together and what’s like working on a TV show?

GK: The show came together really initially in 2000 or 2001 when my dad made a guest appearance on a show. The next year the show flopped and they offered to sell it to him and they did. He had no idea about TV really, so him and the camera guy and a couple sound guys winged it for 11 or 12 years, they were on Speed Channel and the show was called Dream Car Garage. When Tom Hnatiw passed away a number of years ago, they took a year off and then decided to do this TV thing as we were all geared up for it.

It really did help Legendary Motorcar, it helped our business a lot. I think was around 17 or 18 when they started doing that and it made sense for me to do as I was getting more and more involved in the business buying and selling cars and I was okay in front of the camera. We pitched it to Discovery for their Velocity Network and BNN up here in Canada, we are currently filming season six right now.

Working with my dad, we have a lot of fun doing it. A lot of the time it is separate; sometimes he will be busy or I will be busy, and we will be on the road. Sometimes he will just me and a cameraman down and I will be producing and asking and writing it all, it’s the two of us going in Guerilla style. It has taught me a lot about TV.

AG: You have a strong partnership with sponsor Pioneer Family Pools, how did that partnership start?

GK: The partnership started because they had actually bought a few cars from us over the years and we’ve known the Martyniuks for quite some time since both of us are from Halton Hills, after 2015 when CTL was sold I approached them and we had a couple of meetings and we decided to go for it. We jumped in with both feet and we had some other support as well and we had a great season. They renewed their sponsorship last year to do the road courses and the Truck race, I kinda felt that the Truck race was very significant and got a lot of exposure here in Canada. I still want to try and win that thing!

That’s what we did for last year and then this year Pioneer Family Pools actually has a lot of capital they wanted to dump into another venture so we are actually looking for another primary sponsor this season still. We still have a little bit of funding to do the races we want to do, but we are seriously still looking for another primary sponsor and that’s where we are at this season.

Gary Klutt won the 2015 NASCAR Pinty’s Series opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. (Matthew Manor/NASCAR)

AG: What is your favourite Pinty’s Series track to race at and why?

GK: Probably for road courses I would say CTMP. It’s tough to beat, it’s one of the coolest tracks in North America if not the world. It’s got such good history and it’s a real old school type track, lots of elevation changes going through the forest it’s special. It also takes some balls to drive there so it’s also kinda neat. For ovals, I haven’t been to Jukasa yet but I’ve always had a soft spot for Saskatoon. I don’t know what it is about it, but I’ve always liked that track.

AG: If you could race against any driver living or dead, who would it be and why?

GK: There are a lot of different guys in a lot of different disciplines that I’d to race against. For me what I grew up watching was early 2000s Trans-Am racing, I was looking up to those guys a whole bunch. If I could go out and get on the track with some of those guys or maybe even race or race with Ron Fellows would be a dream come true.

AG: If you could race on any racetrack, anywhere in the world which track would it be?

GK: That’s another tough question. Being in the car business looking at race cars and race car history, buying and selling race cars I always have to add a time frame to it. Probably the Nürburgring, there have been some amazing racing held there over the years. You look at the 50s European sports racing cars that raced there, and it’s just a completely different sport than what we look at racing today.

AG: If you could own any car in the world, what would your dream ride be and why?

GK: I love a bunch of different stuff. I would love a custom big rig to drive to the races with a long wheel-base, that’s definitely up there on the list. I would love a 1950s Mercedes SLR. Arguably one of the most expensive cars in the world but also one of the best looking cars in the world.

AG: Do you follow any other sports besides racing?

GK: I grew up playing possibly every sport under the sun, played a bunch of hockey. I never really got into watching sports, even now I’m starting to watch more and more NASCAR races. Other than that, I’m actually a big skier and I’m very up to date about what’s happening in the ski world and the Olympics and the X-Games. It’s probably something that not a lot of people are following, but that’s pretty much it for me.

AG: You have a reputation of always smiling and being a very positive presence in the garage area. What are some of your methods of staying positive even during tough moments?

GK: I don’t really know it’s methods or if it’s just ways of looking at things. I think about these things a lot, tough time and how you’re going to deal with them. I think really if you’ve worked your hardest and you’ve done everything you could’ve then it’s pretty hard to be upset at yourself. Inevitably you’re going to end up frustrated and analyzing what you could’ve done better, if you know next time that you’re going to correct that mistake then you don’t really need to be upset at yourself.

AG: What has been your favourite racing memory over the course of your career?

GK: That’s tough to say, I’ve had a couple. Probably my first win at CTMP, that was really big and surreal. I’ve also had a few hard earned wins back in go-karts when I was younger, and I had seasons where we didn’t finish worse than second and that’s what it took to win the championship. I’m proud of those long seasons where it was just me and my dad and my family working on the cars, it was a lot of fun.

AG: What makes racing in NASCAR so special?

GK: It’s got such great history and it’s tough to argue that it’s not one of the most competitive series in the world. With 29 cars deep at the Cup level of guys who once a year might have a shot at winning a race, it’s pretty competitive here in Canada.

Watching these guys when I was an early teenager when my dad was racing and it thought “Wow, the Pinty’s Series is the place to be.” There is so much talent here and the cars are really tight since everyone pretty much has the same equipment. If you’re going to win anywhere and have it mean a lot, it’s going to be in a NASCAR series. Everyone knows how tough it is to get a win or even a top five in a NASCAR race, I think that’s where the results really matter and it’s the place to be.

Gary Klutt scored his first career NASCAR Pinty’s Series win at CTMP in 2015. (Photo Courtesy Gary Klutt)