Mean green machine

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You can’t miss him.

Nor can you miss his bus.

Travis Adams, of Canton, has wowed local auto racing fans this season with an inexplicable ability to be in – or win – almost every race in which he’s been entered in Oxford Plains Speedway’s Late Model division.

“Toward the end of the year we won three in a row and four out of the last five races,” Adams said. “We were able to carry that momentum from last year over into this year.”

He’s been in the top three in all but one regular, weekly race through nine races this year, too.

And he’s won four times.

“We just have a very consistent race car,” Adams said. “We don’t have to adjust on it very much, just a little bit of tweaking at the race track.”

Meanwhile, the bright green bus he uses to haul his car around has wowed hundreds of curious enthusiasts of all ages.

“Everybody knows, when they see the green bus coming, whose car it is,” Adams said. “Everybody with a truck and a trailer, everybody has a truck and a trailer. Not everybody has a bus, and especially that color school bus.”

Success on the track

On the track, the rest of the drivers who regularly drive in the Late Model division know Adams, too. So do the fans who watch him. His No. 03e Chevrolet – painted the same, bright green with pink trim – has four wins in nine races. Adams is threatening to run away with the points title.

Not bad for a family team on a limited budget.

“I don’t have a mechanic, per se, on the payroll, but I do have my father,” Adams said. “My father (Don Adams) turns all the wrenches on the race car. He’s self-employed, and when there’s no customer’s vehicles in the shop, he works on the car.”

His success has come with a price, especially among local race enthusiasts. Along with the cheers he gets from his green-and-pink clad race fans, he’s starting to hear some of the jeers.

“It goes all the way up through the ranks,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the PASS tour, the ACT, right up through the Busch North or the Busch South or even the Nextel Cup. Look at your top guns there. People keep saying, there’s no way a driver can be that fast without cheating. The way I look at that is that there’s quite a bit of jealousy out there, and people – and I say people meaning crews and fans – sometimes just have a hard time admitting that someone has talent.”

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Fun off the track

But Adams, whose rising popularity with a dash of resentment is fuel for his on-track success, also realizes there’s more to the sport than just racing around a 3/8ths-of-a-mile oval.

That’s where the bus comes in.

“The real key to that is the kids,” Adams said. “The kids adore it. That’s where the new fans come from and then (where) the new drivers come from, is the kids. It gives them something to look for and say, ‘Hey, it’s that green bus, let’s go to the races.'”

Adams said he owes the color scheme in part to his father, and in part to a snowmobile company.

“We’re die-hard Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans, and my go-cart was always black, silver and red,” said Adams, who raced go-carts from the age of 15. “When we started racing multiple classes of go-carts, we added another car, and we painted it lime green.”

That scheme, Adams said, came from a snowmobile.

“When Arctic Cat first released that color on a sled in 1996, I bought the prototype, and I brought it home, and my father said it was the most putrid color he’d ever seen. Two weeks later, he ordered a sled that color. It grew on him really, really quick.”

The pink, on the other hand, that did come from Adams’ father.

“He likes to say, ‘He who buys the paint, picks the color,'” Adams said. “He bought the paint, and he picked the pink.”

Ready for the 250

Two weeks from today, Adams will be on his biggest stage – with his brightest car. This year, the TD Banknorth 250 is being run as a Late Model race, giving Adams and hundreds of other drivers a chance to qualify for the race in their regular cars, instead of switching to Pro Stock cars.

“This winter, we realized the (TD Banknorth) 250 was going to be my division,” Adams said. “That’s our big race, that’s our Daytona 500.”

All summer, Adams’ car has performed well in shorter races. Last night’s 100-lap race was a good check-up, and he’ll be working nearly non-stop for the next two weeks getting ready for the big race.

“We need to work on our long-distance races,” Adams said. “I’ve never run more than 150 laps. Until opening day this year, my longest race was 100 laps. Our car and our team is very good and consistent on long-distance races, so we (used) this 100-lapper to get the Chevrolet dialed in.”

After that, it’s all up to Adams.

“The name of the game there is just getting into the show,” he said. “It’s nice to have a fast race car, a consistent car, knowing what adjustments we have to make for it. Hopefully we can get a good draw. If you get in on the first heat race, it makes for an enjoyable day, but if you don’t, it’s a really long day.”

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