Greer’s Travis Blackwell Scores First Win at Cherokee Speedway

       June 2009                          Dale Wilkerson

On any given race night, at any of our local tracks, you know you will see; side by side racing, one driver upset with another one because of an on track incident, fans cheering their favorite drivers while also letting the ones they don’t pull for hear some jeers, the candy drop from the press box for the kids and the smiles on the kids faces, and the checkered flags for the winners.

The checkered flags are the best part. Seeing drivers and crew members’ high fiving each other after a good run is what it is all about. Hearing drivers thank their sponsors, fans, and crew is always nice, but when you get to see a driver do this for the first time, there is not a better sight at any race track.

Last Saturday night at the Cherokee Speedway, the fans witnessed a young driver get to experience this for the first time, as Travis Blackwell, of Greer, scored his first win in the Young Guns class.

Travis Blackwell and his #8 Scott Inman prepared Mustang in turn 4 at Cherokee.

Blackwell honed his driving skills on Kart tracks across the Carolinas. For over eight years, he competed at tracks including the Possum Kingdom Super Speedway near Belton, the Riverside Kartway and Highway 120 Speedway in Rutherford County, the Buck Creek Speedway in Chesnee, and the Cross Anchor Speedway.

“Kart racing was a lot of fun. It taught me car control, how to be smooth with the steering wheel, and how changing your line on the track can make your car, or kart run better,” said fourteen year old Travis Blackwell.

Blackwell was very successful with the karts, so his father decided to let him make the move up to cars, and the Young Guns class at the Cherokee Speedway, this year.

Blackwell tried his hand at little league baseball, but he was always drawn back to racing. “I enjoy other sports, but the feeling you get on track, when you make a pass, or when the set-up makes the car feel just right, that just can’t be replaced,” Blackwell added.

His family and crew have seen him go from a cautious first trip on track, to a pedal to the metal charger, looking for the best finish he can get each time on track.

“Travis has worked hard, he listens well and has adapted very nicely to the cars. We can tell that each time out, he is learning more about racing and he has improved each week. I am so proud of him for his hard work and could not have been happier than I was Saturday night to see him in the Winner’s Circle,” said Timmy Blackwell, Travis’ father.

Travis in the Winner's circle with his family, Crew Chief and supporters.

As Blackwell drove to the scales, after taking the checkered flag, two former competitors were among the first to congratulate him. 2009 Cherokee Speedway Young Guns Track Champion Ashley Harvey, who was not competing, and Brayden Pruitt who now competes in Street Stock-4, along with a large group of family, crew members, and track officials from Cherokee, were all letting him know they were happy to see this young driver grab that first win.

As is customary after a driver picks up that first win at the Cherokee Speedway, Blackwell was picked up and rolled through a mud-hole, but he didn’t seem to mind.

The crew on Blackwell’s #8 Ford Mustang include his father and step-mother, Timmy and Ressa Blackwell, crew chief Scott Inman, crew members ‘Skoot’ Burton, Trey Cartee, and Tina Howard, and Pastor, and perhaps his biggest fan, Stoney Yearwood.

The sponsors that help Blackwell and his team get to the track each week are; T&T Race Parts and Thomas Perry, Neat and Tidy Services, Turner’s Tire and Trailer Service of Greer, and the folks who make the car look good with the great graphics package, Nate’s Graphics.  

When this rising ninth grader, at Greer High School, walks in for the first day of class in a few weeks, he will hear his classmates talk of hoping to drive to school one day. Some will be hoping that their first car will be a Ford Mustang. Blackwell will laugh a little, knowing his Mustang is waiting for him.

Travis Blackwell will just think of his next race, and what he can tell his crew to make his Ford Mustang turn a quicker lap time.