‘Old cat’ Lewis loving moment in spotlight
Travis Lewis bonded with his teenage son down at the Southside Rubis Raceway, spending countless weekends helping tune his kart.
But now, at the age of 50, Lewis is enjoying his own time in the spotlight, battling it out on the track in the LO206 Masters class.
In only his second year racing, the Bermuda Karting Club committee member has registered four wins in four race days and stands third in the overall standings.
And with his son Corey, 19, at college training to be a mechanic in Niagara, Canada, a role reversal is on the cards.
“Maybe he'll come back and tune my kart now,” joked Lewis, who is hot on the heels of class leader Jeff Sousa and Bobby DeCosta in second.
“I'm much better this year. Last year I was a rookie. My son was into it, so I got into it but this year I'm a bit more competitive.
“This year I went 50, so I guess I'm one of the old cats now. But a lot of the other guys have been racing a long time.
“I used to prepare my son's kart. Being a teenager, the communication wasn't always there! But he got it together in the Shifter class in the end, and he could tune the kart himself. That's when I got into [racing].”
Lewis will suit up in St David's on Sunday off the back of his worst race day of the season. A mistake let rivals pass him in race one, while he crashed out of race two and couldn't get the kart on the grid for the final heat.
However, he feels taking up a hobby later in life means he is less impulsive and better at analysing mistakes. Plus, he appreciates the post-race beers even more.
“I do it for the giggles and the camaraderie,” he said. “I have a lot of friends down there. I go down to work on my kart four nights a week after work. We hang out, shoot the breeze, maybe we change tyres, maybe we don't. Maybe we just have a beer and talk about it! It's pretty cool.”
He added: “I feel quicker this year and feel like I can get on top of the track conditions. It's just knowledge of what the changing conditions do to the kart and I'm now able to make the adjustments.
“I never thought I'd be racing karts at 50, but it goes way back to when I was five or six years old and my dad used to race at PHC on the dirt track.
“He also raced powerboats, which I did from 18 to 30. So racing is in the blood. Then my son got into karting; my family has been doing something to do with motorsport for a lot of years.”
The club's LO206 class now has two divisions, the Masters (over 40s) and the Seniors (15 and up), and Lewis believes more people will be attracted to the cheaper, closed-engine karts.
Eight drivers are set to line up in the Masters division on Sunday, with three in the Senior, and racing has been close and exciting since the class was introduced last season.
“Tactics play a big part,” he said. “You can't get away with using power as an escape. It's all about being smooth and consistent. They are cheaper to run and the engines are user-friendly. You can get into it sensibly for $4,000 for a second-hand kart and the safety gear. The top speed is 50mph, so it's an easier learning curve.”
He added: “Most people are put off by the cost. I looked at it a different way when I got involved. My son was in it for four or five years and if I count all the money I spent versus the time I spent with my son, I can amortise that pretty easily through the course of the year. My son has done nearly 16-17 weekends a year with me. How many people can say that about their 18-year-old child?”
Lewis, whose wife Donna is also on the club committee and helps outs in the scoring tower during race days, says the club has a welcoming, community feel.
“I gets tested when somebody blocks you or you damage a part and it gets a little testy,” he said. “But at the end of the day we all shoot the breeze, call each other names jokingly and have beer — that's the way it's supposed to be.
“Now our son has gone to college we are still down there every other Sunday helping out the club. We have a good time with it.”
The club has two LO206 karts set up and ready for any newcomer who wants to buy in. There are also rental karts available for people who want to try it out. Racing starts at noon on Sunday.
• For more information on how to get involved and what the club offers, e-mail email@example.com or go to the club's Facebook page. Alternatively, call club president Scott Barnes on 505-1611 or committee member Travis Lewis on 535-0558