In mid-September, a young, vivacious,
good-looking and ambitious 21-year-old sprint car driver from Langley, B.C., named
Travis Rutz hauled 4,000 kilometres east to race in the fifth annual Canadian
Sprint Car Nationals at the Brantford-area Ohsweken Speedway.
Seventy-seven drivers took time and Travis was 45th fastest. To put that in perspective, the quickest time-trialer was Glenn Styres with a time of 14.288 seconds. Travis went around in 15.3 seconds. The slowest “fast” guy was No. 75 on the list, Kyle Fraser, who turned a 16.8.
Travis made the field for the Little Feature but couldn’t transfer into the A-Main and his night was over. But that’s racing.
It’s also life – and life can turn on a dime.
A week ago Sunday – Sept. 27, to be exact – Travis was running an All Star Circuit of Champions tour event at the Action Track in Terre Haute, Ind., when disaster struck.
Powering out of the fourth turn, he was in a side-by-side battle with another driver when they came across a very slow-moving car on the main straight. The ensuing collision (so violent that the race was terminated because of damage to the safety fence and starter’s stand) left Travis with life-threatening injuries and he’s in a coma today at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Tommy Goudge, who handles PR for Ohsweken Speedway and the Southern Ontario Sprints, among other clients, has followed Travis’s career closely.
“I first saw him compete as a 16-year-old at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton in 2004, and he won what was at that time Canada’s most prestigious sprint car event - the Gold Cup - from 11th on the grid. I have followed his career ever since.
“The news of the crash and his injuries has hit a lot of people in the racing community very hard. The medical bills for Travis and his family are going to be astronomical, and the word I got from one of their friends is that their insurance is not going to cover any of it because the crash took place on a race track.
“Nearly 2,000 people have joined the Facebook group set up after the accident and "pass the helmet" donations were held over the weekend at Lawrenceburg, Ind., and Chico, Calif., among other places. We even did one at the Southern Ontario Sprints awards banquet on Saturday night in Brantford.”
Thanks for this, Tommy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Travis and his family. Racing remains a dangerous game. Sometimes, we forget that.