CAPE CARTERET, N.C. – Travis Hanson waved the green flag at last year’s IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s.
He wants to take home a trophy from this year’s version of America’s Racin’ Vacation.
The senior director of sports and recreation of Hope For The Warriors and a 22-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Hanson was one of three honorary starters for Modified last-chance features on the final day of the 2015 Super Nationals.
While returning to Boone Speedway in an official role this September, he’ll be making his IMCA Late Model debut in the Thursday night Deery Brothers Summer Series show.
“As a racer, I want to put the trophy in my truck and bring it home to North Carolina,” said Hanson, from Cape Carteret. “But the biggest goal I have at Boone is to give back to IMCA. Simply through IMCA putting our flyer in their (drivers’) packets at Super Nationals, we’ve been contacted by people from all over the United States. I can’t quantify what that’s done.”
Hope For The Warriors assists post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
IMCA and Super Nationals presenting sponsor Casey’s General Store will make a donation to Hope For The Warriors again during Saturday’s pre-race ceremonies.
Among Hanson’s responsibilities at Hope For the Warriors is the Drive For Hope program, which focuses on taking service members to motorsports events to demonstrate how the skills – management for example – they learned or honed in the military carry over to civilian occupations.
He will be working the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington on Sept. 4 in that capacity before getting on the road to Boone.
“I’ve been around dirt tracks and short track racing all my life. I won a couple track championships but it’s probably been 20 years since I raced dirt regularly,” Hanson said. “I raced an asphalt late model between deployments in North Carolina. I have an asphalt track six miles from my house. If I had a track 60 miles from my house that was dirt, I’d be there.”
Hanson will turn his first competitive laps in a turnkey Iowa ride purchased sight unseen over the internet five months ago.
A friend visiting family in Iowa before deploying overseas towed the car back to North Carolina but incessant rain has kept Hanson in the shop and off the track ever since.
He’ll make the trip to Boone solo but has a standing offer of help from two-time defending Modified champion Kyle Strickler and his crew.
“The reception we got when we went to our first Super Nationals was insane. There’s a lot of synergy between Hope For The Warriors and IMCA,” said Hanson. “We met with (former president) Kathy Root and were invited back in 2014. I told IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder I’d like to rent a car if I could. With the Late Models scheduled to race later in the week, it works for me to bring my own car.”
Regardless of how he fares on the track, Hanson will enjoy racing with the best of the best and the sanctioning body that has partnered with Hope For The Warriors.
“Super Nationals is the premier dirt racing event,” he said. “For everything IMCA has done for us, we want to give something back.”