Travis Loy barely won the championship at his home track of Knoxville Dragway. Just weeks later, he came within one round of becoming the Mod World Champion at the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit World Finals.
“I didn’t think I was going to win the points. The last two races I was down six rounds to the guy ahead of me,” Loy said. “I won the last two races to win the points and it was still close. To do as well as I did at the World Finals, that was a thrill.”
He didn’t go into the IHRA Summit World Finals with many expectations. The 37-year-old labor union worker from Harriman, Tenn., had a major goal of just winning his first race. Instead, he got on a major roll during Mod (No Box) eliminations.
Loy cut a .017 light to beat David Bigham from Calhoun, Ga., in a first-round matchup. After getting past Travis Peake from Elkin, S.C., in round two, it set up his best reaction time of the day, a .002 light in a round-three win over Tim Butler from Sarasota, Fla.
“If I had just won the first round, I would have been tickled to death,” he said. “Our goal was just to win the first round and the next thing you know, we’re in the money runs. Everything kept falling my way and it was super exciting.”
Loy had a better reaction time again to beat Timmy Roe from Paris, Ky., in round four and then advanced to the next round when Jeff Flood from Mocksville, N.C. red-lighted. After making a single pass in the semifinals, he got off to a slightly better start (.026 to .028) against Chris Black from Butler, Pa., in the final round.
However, Black stayed strong and edged him for the win. Still, Loy was proud of a family effort as he and his father, Randy, do all the motor and transmission work on a 1967 Chevelle with a 383-cubic inch small block engine and nine-inch racing slicks.
“It ain’t much to look at,” he said. “But, my dad knows how to set the suspension up. When I started racing it six years ago, it didn’t work near as good as it does now. There’s been a lot of suspension work we’ve done and it’s really good. But, we do all the work on the car. Nobody touches that car, but us.”
Loy started in the Junior Dragster ranks when the division first started, but the drag racer certainly didn’t take a straight line to get where he is today. His whole family dealt with an unexpected detour which took them away from the track for a long time.
“Dad had a Chevelle just like mine that he raced,” he said. “Then, my mom had a wreck that almost killed her and we got out of racing for eight or nine years. Once I got out of high school and got a decent job, I got back into racing and have been doing it for the last 13 years.”
Now, they’re racing every weekend if it isn’t raining. They’re also happy to have opportunities to race against both the best drivers locally and the top racers in North America.
“We thank IHRA and Summit for having this kind of program for us,” he said. “When you win a championship, it keeps you looking forward to next year, wanting to win it again. We had been trying 13 years just to get to go to the World Finals one time. Now, we want to just keep on going.”