Racers come from a wide range of people, some are just everyday folks who like to go fast, and them there are some who are just a little different.
I would like to introduce you to one of the ones who are a little different, in a good way. This driver has helped each of us in one way or another, but mostly he has helped his country, but fighting for our freedom.
His name is Travis Lawson, driver of the T17 in Mod Hobby.
Travis joined the GA Army National Guard in 2000. He went to Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2009 which cut his season short that year. Travis has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, he currently works for the GA Department of Defense doing a lot of their
Travis drives a CJ Rayburn 3 link by Brian Burke and Burke Fabrication, powered by a Racetek engine, and Johnny Cloer Jr. fabricated the body.
Travis’ girlfriend Holly Barfield helps with the car and keeps him out of trouble.
I asked Travis what he liked most about racing and he said “Like most it’s the adrenaline but you can meet so many different, interesting people. There are plenty of folks smarter than me at the race track and the thrill of learning something new from different people and even every lap of the race is absolutely unreal.”
He told me his goals for this year “I hope to have a full season wherever I race and hopefully come away with a win this year. Historically look for me after about the 4th or 5th race of the season to start trying to come to the front! Barring any race car complications and Larry Higgins’es I think we should be well on our way to a victorious season.”
Travis would like to thank, his Dad, Dave Lawson, first and foremost for giving him the “racing gene” so he would have the drive and determination to drive a race car. He also added “ I also need to thank my Mom, Lynn Lawson, forgiving me the chance to live through my younger years and always giving me confidence and pushing me to succeed in life. I also want
to thank my sister, Tracy Lawson, for always being my scape goat as a
child because I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her taking
When asked about his favorite memory in racing he fondly remembers “My 3rd place finish at Tri-County Raceway in 2008. We started on pole
in the second heat race and when the green flag flew so did the high
gear in my transmission. I did some quick math and estimated what
quick change gear we would need, turned up side down, so we could run
in 2nd gear instead of high. Fortunately Davin Dilbeck had something
close which came out to about a 6.76 gear (we were running a 7.09).
We started 15th in the feature. On the start of the first lap I shot
under half of the field to about 6th or 7th place. On a caution
restart I jumped the start and got sent to the back again. I didn’t
get but about 4 or 5 positions on that restart and on the next caution
restart I was able to pick up about 4 or 5 positions again. This put
me into 3rd place. On the last lap, coming through turn 3 and 4 the
two lead cars came together and pushed up the race track, slowing way
down. With my inexperience I let up on the gas and when I saw the
“window of opportunity” as the track cleared and I got back on the
gas, the 6.76 gears just wouldn’t give me enough torque to overpower
the two lead cars and I finished 3rd. Had I stayed in the gas I
probably would have had that win. This was the most exhilarating race
I had ever had. The following week was an equally good race up until
the motor decided it had had enough, and turned a valve sideways
through the piston and head.
One of my other memories is in 2006 after I had come back from Iraq
and got started racing. My Dad was in the hospital fighting cancer.
I talked to him the day he passed away and asked him if he was going
to get to come watch me race on Friday. He said he wasn’t sure. I
asked him what he wanted me to do and he told me he wanted me to win.
He had only gotten to see me race two times before the cancer made it
too unbearable to be out there. Against the wishes of my Mom I
fulfilled my Dad’s wish and went to race. I started on pole with
Devin Stuart starting beside me. We went into turn one and I did
everything right, until we came out of the turn. Devin passed me on
the outside and I see Joe Picklesimer on the inside getting ready to
pass me. The next thing I know I’m looking up at the stars. When I
came to rest I realized another driver was passing on the outside and
my front tire hit his right, rear tire spinning me sideways. What I
didn’t realize was my steering column had broke and when I went to
take off I popped the clutch and drove straight into the inside wall.
I don’t know which part was more embarrassing, wrecking like that or
driving into the inside wall.”
Travis said he runs T17 because “It’s just the day of my birthday, the 17th and the “T” was the first letter of my name to make it different. Ironically after I had chosen the number my Dad passed away on the 17th of August.”
Travis also said “I want to thank Marvin Fortner, my crew chief, for stepping in and helping with the team since my Dad can’t be here to help. I also owe a lot, to many people for different reasons. To name a few but
definitely not an all inclusive list: Joe and Bob Picklesimer, David
and Devin Stuart, Brian Burke, and most importantly the fans that
support me and my team when we go racing. Without the fans I wouldn’t
have a show to put on!”
so next time you see the T17 stop by and shake Travis hand, and thank him for the show he puts on every week he races and for serving our country.