Behind the Helmet

10 Questions with Travis Braden

Nowadays in the racing world, many times the key to getting a ride at the next level is to have a sponsor jump with you, however, you also need to be relatable to fans and have them get to know who you are which then shows the sponsor you have the ability to promote their business and their products.

One of the issues with this is you may have to work harder off the track than on the track to get people to know who you are. There are other drivers who have been given advantages that you weren’t including a built-in marketing team to help raise the driver’s visibility.

Recently one of the top-level NASCAR drivers had to promote himself in any way possible, including putting himself out there on social media, warts and all.   Matt Di Benedetto’s personality shined, and he quickly became one of the most popular drivers off the track and his talent on the track allowed him to jump from the smaller GoFas racing up to Levine Family for a year and starting next season he has been given a more prestigious ride as he takes over the famed Wood Brothers 21 car. 

One of the drivers who has shown talent on the track at the Late Model and ARCA levels is Wheeling West Virginia native, Travis Braden. Braden, who is 25, started racing in the Championship Racing Association Super Series (CRA) and quickly showed he was a contender by winning rookie of the year honors in 2012  and then going on to win two consecutive  ARCA/CRA Super Series championships in 2013 and 2014. He started racing ARCA in family-owned cars and impressed everyone when he was able to take home the checkers in his first-ever start at Lucas Oil Speedway in Indianapolis. In 2018 Braden took the seat of the RFMS racing car full time after subbing for the team in 2017.  Throughout the  2019 season, Braden was a championship contender in an underfunded car. Recently, Braden was kind enough to answer a few questions for us to help us get to know who he is a little better!

TLC:  What made you want to get your start in racing?

TB:  I actually was a huge supercross fan as a young kid.  I grew up on a farm in West Virginia, spent a lot of time riding ATVs and I loved trying to go as fast as possible on “courses” I would set up on my family’s property. That led to me wanting to race ATVs and/or dirt bikes.  I had a passion for speed and that shifted to four wheels when my parents got me my first go-kart, a “mini wedge,” when I was 8 years old.

TLC:  Who was your idol driver growing up?

TB:  Jeff Gordon.  I didn’t know much about racing and neither did anyone in my family. So when I watched a race for the first time, which would’ve been in the late 1990s, I was drawn to the cool “rainbow car.” Little did I know I would actually eventually begin to race myself one day and I studied Jeff’s driving style VERY closely and learned a lot from his success

TLC:  If you could go back in time and attend any race of any discipline, what race would you choose?

TB:  One of the only racing traditions my family had was to go to the Daytona 500.  My dad started taking me when I was around 5-6 years old, but I would only get to go every other year.  I never got to see Jeff win a 500, and so I would really love to go back to those days and watch him win one.

TLC: If you could pick any current cup driver to have as a teammate, who would you pick and why?

TB: Kevin Harvick.  I have never really been a huge Kevin Harvick fan, but I have always had a lot of respect for his ability.  He seems to be a huge part of helping his team gather the info they need to compete.  And he has figured out how to drive some specific tracks very well, above other drivers.  So I feel he would be great to lean on as a teammate.

TLC:  What is your favorite memory at the race track? Driver or spectator.

TB:  Favorite memory was winning the Quarter Midget Grand Nationals race in 2007.  At that point, it was really just a father & son hobby, though we always took racing very seriously, and so for us to go out and win against so many huge names and budgets, coming from no racing background, was just very special when I look back.  Back then, my dad and I didn’t even know how to set up a quarter midget.  My dad would maintenance the car and we just stuck with the baseline and learned how to race that way.

TLC:  If you didn’t get to be a racecar driver, what would be your next career choice?

TB:  I have two engineering degrees, in mechanical and aerospace engineering, so I would obviously most likely take a path using them.  I would most likely look at the military field, aerospace engineering specifically.  I think I would find enjoyment in a career that is just as thrilling as motorsports but not necessarily so cut-throat in a business sense.

TLC: What is your favorite unhealthy thing to eat?

TB:  Buffalo chicken with ranch dressing.  I love it and it punishes me every time I eat it, almost immediately LOL

TLC:  What is your favorite show to binge-watch?

TB:  I don’t currently have any shows that I follow. I actually haven’t had a TV in a few years or so.  I’m rather boring in that nature I guess

TLC:  What is your top music choice for road trips?

ATB:  I like to mix it up.  Pop, country, rock, rap.  I’ll listen to a bit of everything.

TLC:  What is your favorite hobby outside of racing.

TB:  I wish I could say that I had other hobbies but at this point, racing has completely consumed my life.  I like to travel and sight-see, so that’s the extent of my hobbies at this point

Travis’s next race will be the All American 400 at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway where he will be piloting the number 26 for Platinum Motorsports. If you are unable to attend the race be sure to catch it on Speed51!

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