PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF FOR ROOKIE FOSTER by Jeremy Troiano
Meeting Bodine in Airport Launches His Racing Career
Persistence is a tough thing to master. Sometimes, to get ahead and stay ahead in life, you need to be a little persistent. At other times, being too persistent can leave a bad taste in the mouths of the people you associate.
Fortunately, for 27-year-old ASA rookie and Illinois-native Travis Foster, being persistent has been a positive part of his life and career. And now he is one step closer to his Cup dreams after his persistency paid off in a random meeting at the Phoenix (AZ) airport with a NASCAR Nextel Cup star.
“My family and I were at the NASCAR Southwest Tour race and we stayed to watch the Cup stuff,” said Foster. “We were at the airport leaving and Todd (Bodine) was standing behind us in line. I've been told I'm pretty persistent and I looked at it as an opportunity. So I just started talking with Todd and telling him my story. It just went on from there.”
Bodine was caught off guard by the racer, but listened to his story and found himself intrigued.
“This kid came up and wanted to talk racing,” said Bodine. “I was just checking in to go home from Phoenix. He and his parents were right in front of me and we just started chatting and he told me his plans and what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to go ASA racing and that he'd been racing late models. He was a 24-year-old kid that really wanted to race. I can relate to that.
“We struck up a friendship and have been friends for four years now. I told him if we could find sponsorship, we could build a team and go ASA racing.”
Like Todd said, that encounter was four years ago and just now, Foster is finally running with Bodine as a team owner. So together they headed down to Florida for the ASA opener in Lakeland. The team started 11th and unfortunately finished 37th after getting involved in an early accident.
Travis Foster qualified 11th, but finished 37th in the ASA opener after getting invovled in an accident early.
“Ever since that meeting, I've been trying to get sponsor money so we could put something together and go racing. I know having Todd is an extra tool for us. A sponsor would much rather talk to me with Todd being my car owner than some other guy that no one has heard of. It is much easier to pursue a sponsor with a name like Todd Bodine than some Joe Schmo.
“I went down to Daytona this year and didn't have a place to stay, so Todd' invited us in his coach. We started talking more and got some marketing people together to go after this. And just now we are getting somewhere finally. At least we have a race under our belt now together.”
Todd Bodine spent the Lakeland race on top of the pit box for Foster.
Bodine is more than just a name to Foster; he is a mentor. He is a wealth of knowledge for Foster and the team’s captain.
“We haven't had a whole lot of time to work together when it comes to actually racing together,” remarked Foster. “He has built so much confidence in me though in a very short time. He has calmed me down. The main thing you have to do in a race car is to be calm, relaxed and comfortable and he's shown me how to do that. He's taught me so much. I can't even start to tell you everything that he's done for me.”
Lakeland was the first race for the duo as driver and owner. And Todd spent time doing much more than just a normal owner would do on a race weekend.
“I'm kind of crew chiefing right now and just keeping things straight,” said Bodine. “I'm trying to teach him some things a long the way too. I mean, this is his parents' car. They got all their money in it right now until we get some sponsorship.
“It is different to be a car owner. I don't get nervous when I'm qualifying, but when he went out to qualify, I was nervous because I don't' have any control over it. This something I always wanted to do eventually. And I want to be a car owner that is involved in a “hands-on” way because I think I have a lot to offer.
“I'm pretty impressed with him. For someone who doesn't have a lot of experience, he doesn't do a lot wrong. He learned how to drive the car properly from the beginning; that means a lot. Right now his feedback isn't as good as it can be, but that comes with experience.”
Foster's experience comes mainly from go-karts and Late Models in the Illinois region. When not down on his luck, Foster's racked up an impressive number of wins and championships in both divisions.
“About 15 years ago I bought a go-kart from a guy in town and was just always driving it around. Then my dad said enough is enough because there were always cops coming to the house because they didn't like me riding it where I was and how fast I was going. So, we decided to take it to the track and race it,” explained Foster.
“We went out and won Rookie of the Year awards and track championships right away. We won a lot of races in go-karts for several years. We stayed there for a while because we never had enough money to move up. Then we just decided to make the jump into the late model. We were pretty successful for not having much money there either. We even won Rookie of the Year at Grundy County Speedway (IL).
Foster came from the tough Late Model ranks of Illinois.
“I haven't come from a real strong racing background and I've been racing low budget all my life, but we always did the best with what we had.”
Foster spent the last several years piecing together his racing career until things finally started coming together for him. Now, thanks to his persistence he is attempting to race in one of the premier racing series in America, ASA, and with a pretty famous owner to boot.
“I've learned you have to be persistent yet respectful. It's apparently working.”
(Anyone interested in getting involved with Foster and Bodine can call 815-237-8531)
With a little sponsorship help, Foster could be one of the future's bright stars.