Travis Wyman’s first year in Stock 1000, and his first year aboard a BMW S 1000 RR, netted him a runner-up finish in the class championship. The veteran middleweight road racer looked like he was going to run away with the title after dominating the first two rounds. But then, adversity set in, which only served to make him more determined to come back stronger in 2019.
With three separate “day jobs” to help finance his road racing program, the New Yorker and second-born of the three Wyman brothers had a notable off-season, with a busman’s holiday on the other side of the globe and an “issue” upon his return to the U.S. Here are the details:
Travis, at the beginning of last season, you notched two Stock 1000 wins right off the bat. In your race class, you only had eight races, so it was a little bit of a truncated season compared with some of the other classes. At first, it looked like you were going to walk away with the championship. Tell us about last year. Did you have a lot of confidence going into the season? Tell us about how the season went, what you expected to happen, and what ended up happening.
Really, my expectations were just kind of open. I’ve had had some success in the past racing in MotoAmerica’s Superstock 600 class. Last year was my first year ever on a 1000, with a new team and a new bike and new everything for me. I really didn’t know what to expect. Our off-season testing during the winter went pretty good. We had some good results with that. I had a little bit of confidence going into the year, but I really didn’t know what to expect at all.
We showed up at Road Atlanta and were fastest in practice and fastest in the first qualifying session. Then qualifying two came around and we opted to skip out of it because it was raining. The forecast was calling for a dry race. So we skipped qualifying two, held onto our pole spot and really just went into the race not knowing what to expect. It was my first time on a 1000 in the rain and I ended up running away with it and winning the race. Obviously, we gained some confidence from that and got the points lead early on. Then, we went to VIR and did the same thing, led every session. We got on pole and ran away with the race and won by almost 10 seconds.
We went to Road America and put it on pole again. Then, from there, that’s kind of where my season started to take a downward spiral. We had a brake issue in the race early on after I took the lead. I ended up crashing out of the lead and couldn’t get back up, couldn’t get going. So that was a DNF and zero points for us. Then, we had another issue at Utah. I crashed out of the lead there, but I was able to pick the bike back up and get some points.
Every weekend for us was just a learning experience, a testing experience. Every time we showed up at the track, we didn’t really have any starting notes. We were fast out of the box and we had a good program and a good team. I had a good set of guys working with me. We did what we could and finished off the year second in points, so I was pretty happy with that.
Obviously, we wanted the championship, but going into the off-season, we weren’t really sure what exactly our plans were going to be, if we were going to move up to Superbike or continue to try and get a championship in Stock 1000. Ultimately, we decided that we were going to go for the Stock 1000 title again this year. There were two different factors in that. One being the funds that it takes to run a Superbike program. I’m sure everybody is pretty aware of that. Also, with the introduction of this new bike that’s going to be coming out, it’s going to be coming out next year. So the goal for us this season is to do some testing on the new bike throughout the year and pick up where we left off last season.
I think we’re in much better shape going into this season. We’ve got data and notes for each track, so it’s not going to be a new venture for us every time we show up. Our off-season testing so far has been much better because we have notes, and we can be pretty successful right out of the box.
It seems like you would have benefitted from having more races on the schedule last year than just eight. Do you agree?
Yeah. Every time we got on the bike, we improved. Like I said, without a whole lot of experience on the 1000 and not a whole lot of testing time between races, it was tough to do that. Any track time is valuable, but for us being a new team, we could have benefited from more track time. It’s just hard to come by between the races. A lot of my program is funded by myself. I juggle three different jobs just to make it happen. I maxed out the credit cards during the year. Sponsors are difficult to come by. So it’s just part of the game, really. It takes a lot more marketing, trying to promote yourself, and proving that you can run up front nowadays.
Tell us about your team, Weir Everywhere Racing. A lot of people know, but some don’t know why it’s called that. Talk to us about the name of the team and what that relates to.
The team all started in 2017. 2015, 2016 I finished third in the championship in Superstock 600 class. In 2017 I decided to take the year off and try and get caught up financially. So, in 2017, I was traveling to just about every race, trying to get something going for 2018. I actually got in touch with one of the BMW teams at the time and started talking with Steve Weir who is the head of racing for BMW in North America. Going into the off-season in 2017, we started talking about maybe putting a program together. We figured that Stock 1000 would be a really good platform in which to showcase the BMW. But, once we got everything rolling, we really didn’t know what the team name was going to be. But, once Steve came onboard, and Alex Torres from Fastline Motorcycle Performance came on board, and we figured we were going to give it a shot. We decided to reference my crew chief Steve Weir in the team name and call it “Weir Everywhere Racing.” It’s fitting because Steve goes all over. He does a lot of club events and he really supports anybody who is riding and racing a BMW anywhere in the country. He’s the guy. So we named the team after Steve.
That’s great that you’ve got that direct connection to the BMW brand. Has that been helpful for you and your team?
Yeah, absolutely. Working with Steve and having a direct relationship with the factory over in Germany is definitely a good thing for us. I think it’s going to be great with the new motorcycle that’s coming out, the 2020 S 1000 RR. With Steve’s involvement in the factory and his passion for racing motorcycles and his passion for me as a rider, that’s how he helps us out.
For one of your jobs, you’re employed by the California Superbike School. They use BMW motorcycles at that school now, correct?
They do. They have for the past couple of years.
Does the fact that you race a BMW have anything to do with riding BMWs at the school?
It really doesn’t. It’s kind of a cool coincidence because, when I go to work at the school, I get to ride a bike that’s very similar to the one that I’m racing. Outside of the suspension and the accessories that they put on my race bike, it is pretty similar. The feel of the bike is the same, so I can work on fine-tuning my body position and my riding technique while I’m working at the school. So, it’s definitely an added benefit that I get to run a BMW at work, as well.
You’ve spent a lot of your racing career aboard small-displacement and middleweight bikes – 125 two-strokes and 600s. How do you like riding a 1000cc bike? What are your feelings towards it?
I always felt that I was better suited for the 600, for my style of riding. When I first started road racing, my first year was with the Red Bull Rookies Cup when I raced on the two-stroke 125. All my knowledge of racing and my upbringing in the sport was focused on high corner speed aboard smaller, single-cylinder bikes. So, when I got on a 600, it kind of suited me well. After a year of riding, you’d think you’d have a good handle on the 1000 and how you need to ride that bike, but realistically I only rode that motorcycle ten times last year between the testing that we did and then the eight races. So as far as actual seat time on the bike, I still feel kind of like a novice, really.
So you’ve still got a lot of upside with that bike, then?
Yeah, for sure. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in my own riding and my own understanding of what it takes to go fast on the bike, but I also was able to adapt to it pretty quickly, right out of the box. We proved that with our wins early on in the season and our pole positions that we were able to get. But I really think there’s room to improve and get better with the bike and the team. The class structure, the way that it’s set up this year, we get a little bit more track time at each event. Really, the biggest thing for me is just having a starting setup going into the race that I can just get right out of the box and try and go fast in the first practice.
When you first started racing, it was in flat track, and flat trackers like to have the back end loose. Then, you did 125s and 600s and liked carrying corner speed, so it’s interesting that you were able to adapt to that. Do you like the back end a little loose? Do you still feel some flat tracking in you when you’re on a road racing bike?
Of course. Being comfortable with the bike moving around is definitely part of going fast on a road racing bike. A lot of guys who started on the dirt racing flat track seem to excel pretty well in road racing. The bikes are getting better every year. Track records are getting broken every time we go to the races. The ability to feel comfortable with the bike moving around a little bit is definitely an advantage when it comes to road racing.
You have a huge commitment to road racing, and it’s clear that you have a lot of passion for it. Let’s talk about the “day jobs” you have that enable you to feed your passion as a road racer.
I’ve always been passionate about racing. It’s been in my blood since day one. So, really, I wanted to find a career that could help me continue to race motorcycles. I’ve worked really hard over the years to become a professional riding coach teaching people everything that I’ve learned over the years. I love seeing students improve, and it’s great for me to be able to pass along all the experience that I have in racing to other people.
So the three different jobs that I hold right now, obviously, California Superbike School is one where I can work on my skills. Also, I work for Ron Fellows Performance Driving School, which is what you can call my day job. It’s a Corvette racing school that I work for at a racetrack that is about an hour from my house outside of Las Vegas. Then, part-time, I’m always working for the Ford Performance Racing School up in Salt Lake City at Utah Motorsports Campus.
Over the years, I’ve tried to surround myself with a career that has to do with motorsports and teaching. So I really just try and keep myself at the track as much as I can, just to keep my mind right and my skillset sharp. I figured it out. In 2016, I spent 286 days at the racetrack, whether it was teaching or driving or racing or riding. So I’m trying to make it all happen and trying to get the money and the means to put together my own racing program.
It’s interesting that you race on two wheels and you instruct on two wheels but you also instruct on four wheels. How is the transition between cars and motorcycles for you? Is it pretty seamless or do you have to kind of retrain yourself a little bit?
A lot of the stuff that I’ve learned over the years riding motorcycles and racing translates right over to four wheels. All the track knowledge and the visuals and everything just kind of mesh together. As far as driving a car, there are a few different dynamics, obviously. When riding a motorcycle, your body influences the way the bike handles a lot more than it does in a car. So, there are some differences, but I’m still able to find a lot of similarities between the two. I think that’s why it was so easy for me to make the transition to four wheels.
When you have all these day jobsn – several day jobs, in fact – how are you able to find the time to race? Do you talk to your employers and say, “This is my schedule. This is when I’m gone. This is when I’m going to be racing.” How does that work?
I’m very fortunate that, with all three of my jobs, I have the ability to create my schedule, at least a month out. Juggling all three jobs along with racing is definitely difficult, but I’m fortunate enough that my bosses support me and what I’m doing. They encourage me to go out and race. It obviously adds credibility to the schools as a whole. Really, me going out and racing is just expanding my knowledge and making me a better teacher. So they’re definitely willing to work with me on that.
Last year was really difficult because our team came together pretty late in the year. The team itself is actually based out of upstate New York, at my mom’s Harley-Davidson dealership. So, all the equipment from the west coast had to get transferred out to the east coast. For every race, I was flying to New York and then driving the race rig to every round and then back to New York and then flying home just so I could go back to work.
I put almost 15,000 miles on the race rig last year just getting to all the MotoAmerica rounds. I think part of that contributed to the season that we had. I started off the year really well, winning races. We had some speed bumps along the way, but I think towards the end of the year, I was just so burned out from all the flying and all the travel, seeing as though I was spending more time traveling than I was actually riding the motorcycle. It just kind of took a toll on me, really.
Did you change things around for this coming year a little bit?
Yeah. This year I’ve actually worked out the means where I’m going to have somebody that’s going to be transporting my equipment around. So for me, I’m going to be as close as I’ve ever been to a factory rider where I get to fly in and focus on riding the motorcycle. A lot of the costs are still going to come out of my own pocket but given that I don’t have to take a week off for one weekend of racing is good for me because it allows me to work more and train more and really just focus on riding the motorcycle. So, I think that this is going to be a good year for us.
So, the race rig will come from New York, you’ll fly in from Las Vegas, and you’ll all meet up at the track?
Yes, that’s the plan.
Regarding California Superbike School and Keith Code, who owns the school, Wayne Rainey worked with Keith and wrote the foreword for Keith’s book. Eddie Lawson worked with him. Doug Chandler, too. The guy has huge knowledge on road racing. He’s helped a lot of well-known road racers over the years, including Joe Roberts a couple years ago, and we saw him a fair amount in our paddock when he was working with Joe. Do you talk to him? Does he talk to you at all about your racecraft or racing while you’re working at the school?
Absolutely. We keep in touch almost on a weekly basis. They actually support me as a sponsor, as well. Keith has a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience over the years helping riders improve. He’s definitely helped me. A lot of the stuff that they teach at the school has benefitted me, as well. When I started with the school six years ago, I went from being, I’d say, a top 10 rider with a couple of wins under my belt to after starting with the school, I was fighting for championships and winning races and getting pole positions. It definitely improved my ability to ride a motorcycle.
So I credit a lot of my success to the school and to Keith and the knowledge of the senior coaches. It’s brought me to where I am now. I think I’ve got a good shot at winning a championship. I’ve finished third a bunch of times. I’ve finished second a bunch of times. But I’ve never actually won a national championship. I think this year could be my year.
Heading into this upcoming MotoAmerica season, it sounds like your program is better than it’s ever been, so congratulations on that. Tell us about your off-season. Obviously, you’re always busy with your day jobs, but you did something a little bit different – very different – this off-season when you went overseas. Tell us about that.
I did. The California Superbike School is based in Los Angeles. That’s kind of their main hub. But they have branches of the Superbike School in foreign countries, as well. They’re really starting to expand the school to other nations. So the opportunity opened up to do a set of schools over in India. Dylan Code, who is Keith’s son, approached me about the opportunity to go over and coach in India. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. It sounded amazing. It sounded like a really cool experience.
So, in January, right after the new year, I flew to India and I was there for almost two weeks, coaching riders at a track just outside the city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in southeast India. It was an amazing experience, and definitely a culture shock. The people over there are amazing. The food is interesting. It was a really cool experience. They gave me an opportunity to ride a motorcycle for two weeks. I was on an S 1000 RR over there in January, so it was great for me to get out on a bike and ride. The only downfall to the whole experience was the after-effects. After returning home, I’ve been quite sick.
We were pretty shocked to hear that. The first thing we thought of was what happened to your brother Kyle and your sister-in-law Hannah. They went to Bali for their honeymoon and both ended up getting “Bali belly.” You went to India, and also got sick. We’re not trying to make light of it, but you Wymans need to stop going overseas. Were you feeling sick when you were in India or did it happen after you returned home?
It’s kind of weird. I was feeling a little off when I was in India, but I thought it had a lot to do with the travel. It took me 48 hours just to get to the place in India where we were staying. So I thought it was a mixture of the culture shock, the travel, the change in weather, and the time change. So I just really kind of thought that things were pretty normal.
When I returned home, I came down with what I thought was a cold or the flu, but for almost a month, the symptoms were coming and going in waves. For a few days, I would feel normal, and then, for a few days, I would feel really, really sick with a fever and chills and all that. So after a month of that, I ended up going to the hospital and they kept me for four days and still haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it is. They said it was some sort of pretty serious viral infection. So, after treatment in a hospital, it’s been a couple weeks now. Still, my energy levels aren’t quite where they need to be. Overall, I just kind of feel fatigued. It’s scary because they aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what’s going on. Every day, I do feel a little bit better, so hopefully I can get into my full swing of training and get ready for round one.
Are you taking antibiotics? What are you doing to treat it?
They put me through a full course of antibiotics when I was in the hospital. They actually tried 12 different antibiotics through an IV over the course of four days. Then, they let me go home and, once I left the hospital, I haven’t been taking any medicine. I’m just trying to eat right, get enough sleep, take probiotics, and get my body and mind right again. I’ve started a little bit of training, but my energy levels aren’t quite where they need to be. So I’m just doing everything else I can until I can get back into the full swing of things.
You’re an extremely fit guy, but you probably lost some bodyweight during this thing, didn’t you?
Yeah, I lost, like, 10 pounds. I didn’t really need to lose 10 pounds.
What kind of training do you do? Do you run? Do you cycle?
I’ve started to really get away from any sort of high-impact training like running. I’ve got a back injury that’s kind of prevented me from being able to do any sort of high-intensity, high-impact training. So the majority of what I do during the season is actually cardio, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing machines. I also do a lot of yoga just to strengthen my core and stay flexible. During the season that’s pretty much what I try to do. In the off-season – November, December – I tend to lift weights and try to strengthen my overall body. But, during the season, it’s pretty much cycling and yoga is what I stick to.
Your back injury, was that caused by an incident, a crash of some kind?
Yeah, back in 2011, I had a pretty good crash. I actually blew out two of the discs in my back. They wanted to do surgery. They wanted to replace my whole spine in the lower end, and I’ve actually found ways to get around the pain and deal with it. It’s definitely something that affects me every day.
When you had that big crash at Road America, we seem to remember that you were okay, mostly, but there was a moment or two where it looked like you might have gotten injured. What was going on?
At Road America, that was the look of defeat. It looked as though I was in pain, but it was more mental and dealing with the defeat. The crash at Road America, I was fine. The crash I had later in the year at Pittsburgh, however, set me back quite a bit. I broke a couple of ribs and bumped my head and bruised pretty much my whole body up and down. So, Pittsburgh was tough. Then, the weekend after that in New Jersey was difficult for me, too, but we still finished strong.
You had talked earlier in the interview about the new BMW. Through all its iterations so far, the BMW 1000 has been a bike with a lot of horsepower, and it’s been a really good motorcycle. But, this new 2019 S 1000 RR looks like an absolute beast. Are you going to get to race the new bike at some point in the season?
It’s really going to depend on how the year is going. If we’re doing well and winning races and starting off the year like we did, we’ll probably stick to the same bike just because everything is different on the new bike. Everything’s changed. Really, the plan is, once we do get the new bike, and it’s not really known yet when we will, but we’ll be testing it between rounds. That was the difficult thing for us last year. We only had the one bike, and it was in New York most of the time while I was in Vegas and my crew chief was in Los Angeles. So, we weren’t able to do any sort of testing between rounds.
Now that we’ll actually have a second bike, it’s going to benefit us in the long run. I’m excited for the new bike. I think I might be one of the first people in the country who will get to ride it. And, if we’re not able to race the new bike this year, hopefully we can get some testing time on it, The ultimate goal is to go Superbike racing in 2020. Hopefully, we’ll have enough data to get us rolling.
You were on the cover of BMW’s member organization magazine. So, obviously, the BMW member organization knows you. How are the BMW customers and fans? Do they come out to see you? Have you heard them say, “I ride a BMW, and I came here to see you race.”?
I didn’t realize how large the BMW family is around the world and even right here in the U.S. A lot of their focus over the years has been on their on- and off-road touring models. There really hasn’t been a whole lot of focus on Superbike racing. Overseas and in Europe, they’ve had some good success, but as far as my association with the BMW riders’ association, I actually had no idea that I was even on the cover of their magazine. Somebody was in a BMW dealership, saw me on the cover of the magazine, and sent me a photo of it. I was like, “Whoa, look at that!” It was a photo of me crossing the finish line at Road Atlanta while doing a wheelie.
For BMW riders and for the factory, I actually claimed the first professional motorcycle race win in the U.S. on an S 1000 RR. So, I contacted the organization and asked them if I could get a copy of the magazine. From there, the relationship grew and the editors asked me to write a recurring column for each issue of the magazine. So it’s a pretty good relationship that I’ve built with them so far. Really, I’m just trying to get my name out there and promote my affiliation with BMW.
Let’s talk about the future a little bit, and the arc of your career. What do you see next? Do you think you’ll move up to Superbike with BMW?
That’s the ultimate goal. If we could get more support from sponsors to make it happen, that would be incredible. If we can win the Stock 1000 championship, I think that will give us some headway going into 2020 with the possibility of racing in Superbike. As of right now, our goal is actually to run my Stock 1000 in the Superbike class at the Circuit of The Americas this year. If everything goes well at Road Atlanta, we’re going to make our debut in Superbike at COTA and just kind of get a feel for things. There’s quite a bit that we can do to the bike in terms of the rules between Stock 1000 and Superbike, so I’m excited for the opportunity to get out there with the big boys and see if we can hang. Actually, just the experience of having longer practice and qualifying sessions and more testing time, I think we can gain a lot.
When you race at COTA in the Superbike class, does that mean you’re going to have the bigger forks, the different triple clamps? Maybe a different swingarm? Are you going to change some components?
Yes. We’ll have different triple clamps and the rear linkage for the shock, which is going to add quite a bit to the handling. We’re going to keep the motor stock and just make some tuning adjustments to it. As far as engine performance–the Superbike spec and the Stock 1000 spec–there’s really not a whole lot of difference in terms of the engine. So I think going into 2020 with the new bike, we’ll definitely benefit more from racing in Superbike. It’ll be another learning curve for us, but it’s a great opportunity for us to get out there and get on TV with the Superbike boys and really see what we can do.
What do you think about the MotoAmerica TV package, and how will it serve you and your program?
In the beginning of last year, there wasn’t much as far as coverage for my class, and then, once they started introducing the Facebook Live, I was stoked because you didn’t even need to have Facebook to watch the races. It was free for everyone to watch. The coverage was pretty good. So it provided an opportunity for a lot of people to follow my series and see what I do. It actually brought some more sponsors in for me at the end of the year. I think, for the race at Sonoma, there were, like, 36,000 viewers that watched our race. So, that was really cool to see.
I think, going into this year, now that people are becoming more aware of the sport, I don’t know how the TV coverage on Fox Sports will be for us, if it’s going to feature any Stock 1000 highlights or not, but I think it’s really just great for the sport as a whole that it’s getting more exposure and on a good network that people can watch. I think, whether it benefits me directly or not, I think it’s going to help the sport grow. It’s helping everyone bring in sponsors. And, maybe I can give up one of my three jobs.
For Stock 1000, MotoAmerica Live+ will be streaming your practices, your qualifying, and your races, as well as the other classes. A lot of fans are going to see Stock 1000 this year, and so will potential sponsors and advertisers.
That’s really exciting to hear.