It may have taken until the latter stages of his racing career, but Super Late Model driver Travis Benjamin has finally reached a time where he no longer has to scrounge around on Monday’s to balance his checkbook.
Just over one month after pocketing his second straight $25,000-plus payday in the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), Benjamin of Morrill, Maine scored another $20,000-plus check Monday afternoon by winning the Re/Max 250 at Speedway 660 (NB).
“To be honest with you, I’m in disbelief for one,” Benjamin told Speed51.com on Wednesday afternoon. “Two, I honestly had no idea. All my life in racing I’ve been trying to dig myself out of a hole. After the 250 last year, the 250 this year, and then this win I’m finally not in that hole anymore. Honestly, I kind of feel lost.”
Benjamin, also the 2012 Pro All Star Series (PASS) North champion, made his way to the front after a pit stop near the halfway mark and then came out on top in a battle with Ben Rowe to capture his first career win in the big money event north of the border in New Brunswick.
Many would look at the box score from the event and think that his win on Monday may have come a little bit easier than his win in the 2014 Oxford 250, an event in which he started from the 27th position.
Benjamin said that couldn’t be further from the truth and even went as far as to say the rain showers, which postponed the event from Sunday to Monday, may have given his team the time they needed to get the car to where they wanted it to be.
“It wasn’t,” Benjamin said when asked if the win came easier than his Oxford 250 win. “It was a very long weekend. The kid that does my tires, Nate Littlefield, he couldn’t go so my crew chief was doing tires and trying to crew chief the thing. I’ll tell you what; he had to bust his ass to get the car to where it needed to be.
“We’re kind of lucky we had so much time. If we didn’t have as much time, I think we could have been in trouble.”
In addition to being without his tire guy, Benjamin was also without two crew members after the event was postponed to Labor Day. With the help of a fellow Super Late Model driver and a hotel owner, his pit crew was able to get him off of pit road first during a mid-race pit stop.
“Trevor Sanborn actually jumped in and changed a tire,” said Benjamin. “I have a hotel up there that sponsors me and the kid that owns that carried the tire. We came in the pits second and we beat everybody out of the pits.”
Benjamin had attempted to win the Re/Max 250 on seven previous occasions, but always seemed to come up just short. He had finished in the runner-up position twice, and also had a third and fourth-place finish in the race on his resume.
“One year we were leading with 20 laps to go and a guy blew an engine and I spun in the oil,” said Benjamin. “Every year, we were right there but just couldn’t quite seal the deal. This time we were able to seal the deal.”
The win was also big for him because his main sponsor, Irving, has a huge presence in the area and a number of staff members from the company were at the track to celebrate the Maine driver’s win.
“That is the heart of Irving,” Benjamin said. “That is huge because they’ve been on my car for 14 years. Everybody from Irving is around.”
Benjamin’s $20,200 win on Monday afternoon gives him a total of over $45,000 pocketed in just two races this season. After an entire career of struggling to fund his racing program, he finds himself lost now that he no longer has to fight the battle of balancing his checkbook.
“I’ve always been in debt,” said the two-time Oxford 250 champion. “Not really owing people, but never having money in the checkbook and having to scrounge around on Mondays to pay the bills. Now I’m going to have the money in my checkbook and I’m not sure what the hell to do.”
Benjamin said that the idea of buying a new race car has crossed his mind, but he’s not sure he wants to change anything with his racing program after the success the Benjamin Motorsports team has experienced recently.
“I don’t know if I should go buy some stuff or just keep doing what we’re doing,” Benjamin said. “That’s how I feel. I don’t know what to do. I hate to say this, but if I’m smart I’d retire. I know I’m not smart, though, or I would have gotten out of this sport a long time ago.”
Benjamin, who is now focusing on his son Kaiden’s go-kart career, plans to continue running select PASS North events in the future but believes it will be tough to duplicate the success his team has experienced in 2014.
“It doesn’t get any better than what we’ve done this year. It’s unbelievable how things are clicking.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speedway660.com