Travis Adams has been busy this week.

Really, he’s been busy all season. The Oxofrd Plains Speedway Late Model series standings prove it. At the halfway mark of the season, Adams has collected three wins and is 70 points in front of Shawn Martin of Turner.

But this week has been about more than just points and standings.

“I’m working on the TD Banknorth 250 winning car,” Adams said without missing a beat.

He wasn’t kidding.

“You have to be optimistic on this whole deal,” he said. “You have to be.”

And Adams, of Canton, has every reason to think he has a shot, too. A four-time track champion in the late model division at Oxford Plains Speedway, Adams is cruising toward a fifth with that 70-point lead.

“That’s crazy,” Adams said of his lead. “I’ve been in front before, obviously, but never by 70 points. That’s basically a whole week’s worth of points. This is really surprising, unheard of.”

It was a season that almost wasn’t.

Heavy hearts

“At the start of the season, it was just going to be the bigger
races, the long-distance races,” Adams said. “Just getting geared up
for the 250, the car is enough different for the long races where I
wanted to concentrate on the bigger races. Having won the last three
track championships and four total, I think I have the weekly stuff
down. It’s been the long-distance stuff that’s kind of eluded me. That
was going to be kind of my main plan.”

Things changed quickly.

Before
he had the chance to take the bright green and pink No. 03 car out of
winter storage, Adams and his family suffered a great loss. Adams’
father, Don, died in early March.

“It’s tough to lose a parent,” Adams said. “We miss him dearly and he
was such a big part of this. Would I be going better if he was still
here, maybe, maybe not … probably not, but would I be going worse,
no, I absolutely would not be going any worse. It’s just overwhelming
how much the transition of losing him has carried on to still being
able to be successful.”

With his father’s passing, things changed in and around the garage.

“He did the mechanical end, and I did the setup end,” Adams said. “If I told him to turn a jack bolt here or a spring there, he did, and he didn’t question me and he didn’t really care to know about it, honestly.

“He taught me enough about the mechanical end of this that I’ve been able to pick up the ball and go with it,” Adams continued. “We pride ourselves a lot on being able to build this car out in the back woods out here in Canton, Maine and going out to compete with the big names. This year, I guess what I’m getting out of my father’s passing, is, he had a lot of pride in the mechanical work he did, that his son was able to go out and compete with the big guys and win. Now, that’s me. I get the pleasure of working on this thing, with the bearings and seals and oils and clutches and spark plugs. I get the whole package that me and my crew are working on this now. I get the double enjoyment of not only setting it up, but also making sure the thing is mechanically sound to compete. I know the feeling he had now, being able to build this thing with your own hands and go out and race with it.”

The outside of his No. 03 car looks the same, with one exception.

“The car and the trailer we have obviously say, ‘In memory of Don
Adams, 1952-2009,'” Adams said. “The stickers around the trailer and
car, we used to call him ‘Dodah,’ that’s what he preferred to be
called. It says that upside down, because that’s how he liked his name
put on the car, just to be a little different.”

One of the staples of Adams’ racing team for years has been a converted school bus used to haul the race car.

“It took two people with a lot of talent, and one of those talents
is no longer with us,” Adams said. “I’m hauling with the truck and
trailer now.”

Asked if that meant he was a bit more on the normal side, Adams laughed.

“I don’t feel more normal,” he said.

More motivation

As if a heavy heart and an emotional roller coaster weren’t enough motivating factors to do well this weekend, Adams has a more tangible goal for which to shoot.

“I went full ACT legal this year, with the engine and the
transmission,” Adams said. “That opened up the avenue to running some
ACT races, but the biggest deal for me is the Loudon deal at the end of
the year.”

Oxford Plains Speedway is one of nine tracks in the northeastern
United States and Canada where the track champion will be automatically
qualified to race in the inaugural ACT Invitational at Loudon’s New
Hampshire Motor Speedway. The event coincides with NASCAR’s second
weekend of racing at the track.

The ACT invitational race is a 50-lap all-star event with 36 starters.
Each 2009 race winner on the U.S.-based ACT Late Model Tour and the
Quebec/Ontario-based Serie ACT-Castrol as of Sept. 18 will be awarded a
guaranteed starting spot.

Three non-championship events are also NHMS qualifying races:
Vermont Governor’s Cup 100 at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., the TD
Banknorth 250, and the Coors Light 200 Showdown at Chaudiere all-star
race in Quebec later this summer.

“The weekly deal was the best opportunity for me to try and qualify
for that race,” Adams said. “Hopefully run for the championship here at
Oxford.”

No slack

Adams has received plenty of sympathy from fellow drivers this season — verbally, anyway. 

“People come up to me and tell stories about their losses, and relate to me,” Adams said. “They tell me, ‘You’ll never go through anything worse than losing your father.’ That’s probably pretty true. The only thing I could imagine being as bad or worse at this point would be losing your mother, too, or a spouse or a child. Hopefully I never have to go through that.”

On the track, though, it’s been all business, Adams said. As it should be.

“I don’t cut anybody any slack, and I don’t expect any in return,” Adams said. 

A look at the standings proves Adams isn’t kidding here, either.


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