I tell everyone that a “FishDuck” can’t fly, but my nephew, TJ Fischer, almost does at 150 miles an hour! I am very proud of my brother and his wife (Stephen & Viki) in how they have raised a talented and humble young man who was an “A” student in high school, and yet had the talent to play college football and truly race circles around his competition.
We covered his life-changing decision in an article last summer when he decided to give up his football dreams to embrace the challenge that few in world can master — Indy-Style Open-Wheel racing. Who needs drama on TV as TJ (Travis) is living it? Updates about TJ Fischer makes you ponder about this unique world of racing, and keeps me interested in his progress as other readers on FishDuck.com have clamored for.
TJ is now part of the ProTyre Formula Renault Series in England, which feeds the racing ladder into Formula One, but IndyCar drivers are known to have raced in the feeder series, as well. He is racing on such iconic tracks as Donnington, Brands Hatch and Silverstone, which are state of the art and highly technical tracks.
The competition is incredibly strong as drivers from Europe, South America and Asia take part in the no-holds barred racing where cutting each other off and pushing each other off the track is acceptable behavior. These are not the polite grounds of Wimbledon where they actually call the participants “gentlemen.” It is a contact sport at 150 mph and you better have insurance, and yes, you can actually purchase insurance for a race car.
In America, it is the norm to leave “racing room” and at this level you would go home with no damage to the car. TJ has yet to leave a weekend without some form of significant damage, as the wings on the cars are considered expendable accessories. In Europe, “racing room” is taken, not given – as dog-eat-dog did not originate in the United States.
Yet father Stephen remains philosophical about it all; “it is fabulous training. Everyone is talented, everyone is pushing to the limits, and everything he does is evaluated. It is intense, it is demanding, and it is a battle every time on the track.” The costs to race in England are a third of what it is in the United States, thus TJ encounters tons of great drivers who now have the opportunity to show their skills.
The racing team of Cliff Dempsey is pleased with his progress, and competing against top-level junior open-wheel drivers is a fantastic developmental step. TJ was ready for this steep challenge as he won 17-of-18 races in the US last year with a stunning 10 victories in a row. I can tell you that his uncle was hopping in his chair at the Portland International Speedway last summer watching his nephew in ”warm-up” competition.
TJ is living with the racing team owner (Dempsey), similar to a “Foreign Exchange” student experience. They reside in the village of Brigstock, England, near the end of Nottingham, which began in the 11th century. (Can you imagine?)
This helps him learn about our European roots, while staying grounded with the pressures of high speed racing. Few in the sport continue their education, but TJ has a passion for learning and is taking online classes from Grand Canyon University — accessed from where ever he is around the world.
He is a college sophomore and likes how, “I can study or do homework or read at the track or on an airplane or hotel. It allows me to be flexible, which is what I need.” He is working to retain the balance in his life while traveling between two continents as a 20-year-old and build his future either in racing, or from his college education.
TJ is learning in real-time on European tracks with a car that is very unlike anything to which he is accustomed. It handles differently and requires him to learn a new set of skills, while driving with a ton more horsepower and a lot of “downforce” as he is braking at the last second into an apex and then hits the throttle hard.
As Stephen said, “if you did that in the US you would meet ‘Mr. Wall’ and that is not a friendly meeting.” At the same time, if he tried to drive those cars as he does in the US? He would blow straight through a corner and again risk a forced meeting with ‘Mr. Wall.’ TJ’s total education at this time is immense in scope!
This is a racing series where drivers spend two years before they move up to the next level. The second-year drivers will dominate, while the first-year drivers get acclimated to the cars, the tracks and the competition. TJ is consistently a top-eight finisher — when he is able to keep his wings attached and finish – and just registered his first top-five finish! He is doing well as a first-year competitor in this racing series.
At FishDuck.com, we often have player profiles about the young men coming up through the ranks in the Oregon football team and it is facinating watching them rise in their craft as the years pass.
Consider this another enjoyable story to follow as we track the progress of the racing career of TJ Fischer, who is striving to drive on that gloriously famous track at Indy. Check his social media sites and rest assured that his proud uncle will update you as he rises through the ranks of Open-Wheel racing.
While it is not football … “oh how we love to learn a little about racing!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
To follow TJ Fischer racing action;
@travisjfischer; twitter and instagram
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