Travis Tollett was amazing. I met him my first year at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2010 and we have been friends since. He lost the ability to walk in a racing crash, and when he realized he couldn’t drive anymore, he started co-driving for his friends. At least he still went to the top of the mountain on raceday and got celebrate with the other racers. But Travis never gave up his dream of racing himself.
Every year he got stronger. Every year he would write the sanctioning body asking to let him race. Every year they would tell him its too dangerous. Until finally in 2012, the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb decided to take a chance and grant his request.
A few months later Travis piloted a side by side to the top of the mountain and became the first quadriplegic to race at Pikes Peak.
I write this because I miss my friend. Travis was amazing. He was so inspirational. So right to the point too. And he always made you smile. Travis also did all of my graphic design work and kept strange hours so we would stay up all night chatting about projects, Pikes Peak, and racing. I miss those days.
I wish I could share the videos he used to send me late at night practicing in his basement with a playstation and Gran Turismo. He mounted a suicide nob to the wheel and would practice racing until he couldn’t hold on anymore. The video would come over with a simple message. Five minutes and 20 seconds! I knew exactly what it meant. He could now hold on to the hand controls for a little over five minutes. He would need something like 15 minutes of strength to reach the summit so he worked at it as much as he could.
If you’re wondering how Travis can be a quadriplegic and still race, it was this: Because Travis was awesome! His break medically makes him a quadriplegic but he has a little use of his arms. Barely enough to turn a Logitech steering wheel through a lap of Grand Turismo with force feedback on high, but he had been fighting every minute since that accident to make himself stronger so he could race again.
Here is Travis Tollett racing up Pikes Peak in 2012. A dream he honestly thought he would never see, but man he never stopped trying.
Travis unfortunately passed away during a endurance cycling race in January 2016. He was pushing hard and his body gave out at its limits.
I know it’s a stupid staying, but Travis died doing what he loved. If you love this story as well and want to know more about Travis, here’s a cool video about his return to Peaks Peak back in 2012:
Travis Tollett’s story should be a reminder to go live your dreams. Travis would be the first to make me write this. He would say something like “Well if I can’t race, maybe we can get someone else to live their dreams.”
So when you’re tired or think it won’t work, take a second and think about Travis and how hard he worked to get back into a race car for just one last run up the mountain.