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Ten Minutes With a Teen Race-Car Driver

Travis Hydar feels at home on the track



Photo by Ryan Lavine

Travis Hydar of Woodbury turned 15 in April. He can’t legally drive on the roads, but the son of a construction business owner, he races street stock cars at speeds exceeding 80 mph every Friday night from April into October at Stafford Motor Speedway in northern Connecticut. This summer the driver called “as smooth as it gets” by the track announcer has been jostling with other drivers at the top of the points standings. 

You race street stock cars at age 15. How does that feel?
Driving a race car is just kind of natural to me. It just feels normal.

How did you pick up the skills and experience to race at Stafford Motor Speedway?
I went to a relative’s bachelor party at On Track Karting in Brookfield when I was eight and was hooked. I raced karts there for four seasons, won a championship, was named rookie of the year, and was always in the top three in points. Then I moved up to real oval racing in the Wild Thing Kart Series at Stafford Motor Speedway.

How did you make the transition from karts to stock cars?

It was quite a transition. We took the car down to Southern National Motorsports Park in North Carolina when I was 13. I got a feel for the car and got a lot of tips from Dad, who’s also my mechanic and pit crew along with uncle Jeff and help from Joe Brocket. The Stafford races are 20 laps on a short, half-mile oval, so there’s no pit stops. 

Where did you get the car?
We bought the number 11 car from a previous driver who drove it for three seasons at Stafford. He had six wins in the car and finished in the top three in points twice. So it gives me confidence knowing that the car I’m driving has won a bunch of races at Stafford. 

You did well last year in your rookie season racing “real cars”.
My first year racing in the Street Stock division was 2017 at age 14. I won the fourth race of the season in this car and finished fourth in points. I am the youngest driver in Stafford history to win a feature race. 

How’s this year so far?
Second is my best finish this year. I’m right up there with the points leaders. I was tied for the lead in points two weeks in a row. It’s a really close battle. 

I saw you get bumped and bump another driver. Is that protocol?
I got bumped in my first Street Stock race. Sometimes you want to let another driver know you’re there. The cars slide around a lot. They don’t have that much grip. 

The announcer called you “as smooth as it gets.” What’s your style as a driver?
I try to race as clean as possible, as fast as possible, and get the best finishes I can. 

Where do you go next?
I’d like to go into the SK Light division or Late Model division, and then the SK Modified division. The cars are lighter, have wider tires, and are faster. Maybe I’ll step up to SK Light at the end of the season. 

Any short-term goals at Stafford?
Yes, I would like to win some races and compete for the division championship. 

Your long-term goal?
To race on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

                        

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January 2019

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