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By: Andy Bowyer
There is opportunity around every corner with AMSOIL Arenacross. For example, Travis Sewell has been charging on the tour for several years and has experienced a steady streak of progression. A multiple main-event winner in 2016, Mr. Sewell was picked up in the off-season by the powerhouse Monster Energy AMSOIL Babbitt’s Kawasaki team and comes into 2017 as a contender for the Ricky Carmichael Cup. We caught up with Travis and got his take on his recent developments.
First off, let’s get the great news out of the way. Congratulations on being chosen to be a member of the championship-winning Monster Energy AMSOIL Babbitt’s Kawasaki organization.
Thank you very much; so far it’s been awesome. Denny Bartz has been extremely supportive and working hard to get me comfortable on the bike as quickly as we can. I’ve got about four days on the bike, but I’m flying out to California to do some finalization on the settings, then get back to Florida as soon as possible to put in the work before the first round.
We’re sure that good news was welcome after the misfortune you suffered this summer. Tell us about what happened and how you’ve recovered.
Yeah, this summer I was doing a big fair race in Illinois and made a little mistake, and it ended up turning into a big mistake and I went down hard. I cracked my pelvis, tailbone, broke eight ribs, cracked my sternum, compressed vertebrae in my back and collapsed both lungs. It was hands-down the worst injury I’ve ever been through, but in the same sense it definitely made me stronger as a person. As far as the recovery, there was a lot of laying around waiting for things to heal. The worst part was my pelvis because I couldn’t move much at all. However, staying so still actually helped all of my other injures heal quicker. It was one of those deals where you wait and wait until you get the go-ahead to start strengthening your body. Mentally it was a really tough thing to go through, but like I said, once you get to the other side you’re a stronger person.
Your fortitude must not have gone unnoticed because you still landed a great ride. You won races in 2016 and fought for the title, so you also had that going for you. Are you more determined now than ever?
It’s awesome for Denny and Babbitt’s to give me this opportunity knowing that I had such a bad injury. It just goes to show that he has a lot of faith in what I am capable of doing. It doesn’t give me more pressure; it just gives me more motivation and an opportunity to take my career to the next level. There are so many positives that will come out of this situation. I’ll be able to fly back and forth every weekend and be down here with my good friend and trainer, Drew. He can keep me on our program more consistently this year, where last year I came in strong and I was basically on the road from there, which made it hard to stay in shape. There were just some weeks where I couldn’t ride because it was -20 degrees where I was and 4-5 hours from an indoor facility. I’ll be getting back a little later than normal, but I know what to do. Drew is a great moto coach and he’s been helping me get back up to strength, and we’re going to be solid for the first round.
What are your thoughts on the Race to the Championship? How are you going to approach 2017 knowing how it has played out the past two seasons?
There are a couple different ways to look at it. You hear some people say they want to come out and be a little cautious in the beginning of the championship and kind of build from the beginning. For me, I would like to come out and do really well at the first couple rounds and carry confidence. I don’t want to wait for the restart to happen, to decide that it’s time to go. If it was a full series from January to May, well you know that you have to be on it from January. Now you can kind of show up and if things aren’t great at the beginning, you have time to dial it in before the reset. Like I said, it can work great for you, but it worked against me last year because we had our bikes stolen right around the start of the Race to the Championship.
Interestingly enough, the team you are joining had a situation in 2016 where teammates took it down to the last main event of the championship. Imagine yourself in that situation. How are you going to handle it?
Deep down in my mind I know that those guys are there to do the same thing that I am. I look back at last year and Jacob Hayes and I made the most contact of anyone all season. We were able to both come off the track and be cool. We both know we want the same thing and realize the level of racing it can reach on the track. It was the same thing with Gavin Faith. We came off the track last year a couple times and said, ‘Hey man, sorry I hit you so hard. I don’t want to ride dirty, you know?’ He would shake my hand and say, ‘It’s all good.’ It’s just the way it is in AMSOIL Arenacross. If you aren’t bumping, you are more out of place than if you are (laughs). I’m not saying it in a dirty way; it’s just the tracks are tight and you are going to make contact. It’s more figuring out how you are going to win and how you want it more than the other man.
The entire atmosphere of AMSOIL Arenacross changed a lot in 2016. There was a makeover of sorts with a new logo and DJKO and an effort to simply make the championship more enjoyable. It seems like you have made a home for yourself in AMSOIL Arenacross. Are you having fun?
I love racing AMSOIL Arenacross, honestly. There are usually 10-14 really serious guys that are there every weekend. Of all those guys, there might be one person that isn’t friendly or doesn’t want to hang out. For the most part everyone laughs, shakes hands and is stoked together. Even before the races people are cool walking the track and things. In Monster Energy Supercross, it seems like it is so stuffy and tense and there isn’t that friendly vibe. It’s more of a family atmosphere in AMSOIL Arenacross. Like I said, you can slam each other during the race and still go get dinner with that guy afterwards because we all understand how it works. I really look forward to it; I have a great time every year. I’ve spent the last couple seasons on the road and even then it’s cool to travel around the country and see how different people live and how people from different states do things. The opportunity to travel around the country because you’re racing your dirt bike is a pretty cool feeling.
Cincinnati is coming quickly. Are you ready to do this?
I just really want to thank Denny Bartz and the Monster Energy AMSOIL Babbitt’s Kawasaki team. I’m ready to race, and I’m 100 percent ready to win. I believe that last year was a huge stepping stone for me. It was the first time I was able to win an overall, and I was in contention for the Ricky Carmichael Cup. Drew Whitehead and I are going to do everything in our power to show up and be ready. I want to be on the podium every weekend and win races and chase after that championship.
Source: Amsoil Racing