Think pink

Luedke races for breast cancer awareness
by Verla Peichl Review Correspondent

Travis (T.J.) Luedke of Plymouth is shown with his 2013 Sprint car which will be racing to help the Pink Party breast cancer foundation. — Review photo by Verla Peichl Travis (T.J.) Luedke of Plymouth is shown with his 2013 Sprint car which will be racing to help the Pink Party breast cancer foundation. — Review photo by Verla Peichl PLYMOUTH — Travis Luedke, better known simply as T.J., is wellknown in the racing circuit of eastern Wisconsin and this year his 21t Sprint car is making noise even before the racing starts. His neon pink car is “Racing for a Cure” and focuses on breast cancer awareness.

Luedke has worn many hats through his young life, one being that he grew up on Luedke Farms at the corner of State 23 and County E, which is also just down the road from the Plymouth Fair Grounds where racing is a staple every Saturday night. While milking cows and working in the fields he heard the race sounds and in 1997, at age 18, his racing ambition was added to what would soon be a long list of accomplishments.

Luedke had always owned his own racecars but this year, during the off season, something different happened.

“I was joking around with a guy, who doesn’t want me to say, from G.Schneider Electric in Kiel about being a sponsor for my car,” said Luedke, “we were just kidding around and he said that if he sponsored the car he wanted to be able to pick the color, so I told him that would be ok but he couldn’t pick the color green, so what happened is he came back to me and told me it had to be pink.”

“He said he wanted it to be pink because he wanted it to be an ugly car and then people would remember it,” said Luedke, “and it was while we were still just joking around we came up with the idea that if it was going to be pink we should do something connected to breast cancer awareness with the car.”

“We both know people who have been affected with breast cancer and we thought this was a cool way to do something to raise money through this idea for breast cancer awareness,” said Luedke. “We just kept talking and coming up with ideas and we finally decided that we would get sponsorships for the car and that money would be used to keep the car running in good condition and all of the winning money would go to breast cancer awareness.”

“So when we decided on the race winnings to be donated to breast cancer we started looking around and contacted Shelley Jones, a breast cancer survivor, and she got us hooked up with Pink Party which is located in Kaukauna,” said Luedke. “She gave us ideas of this organization because this is the one that helped her out. The money all stays local in Wisconsin.”

“There will be a pink theme to the dress of the pit crew,” said Luedke, “not sure what all it will be but we will be noticeable.”

The pit crew members of the 21t car are all excited and looking forward to this upcoming season. They have been with Luedke during his race career and have shared in many good years and top finishes and some not so good but they always stick together. His race accomplishments in 15 years include;

• 100 wins/ 21 A-Main wins/ 18 B Main Wins/ 63 Heat wins and over 90 races where he placed in the top 5 five.

• Racing 4 years of Winged Modified and in 2001 to 2013 Sprint 360 and 410.

• Championships in 2007 at Plymouth Dirt Track Racing (PDTR) and Motor Sports Association (MSA)

• 2009/ Wisconsin Sprint Car Driver of the Year

• 2009 and 2010/ Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Champion (EWSC)

• 2011/ Interstate Racing Association (IRA) Rookie of the Year

“The sponsors have been generous and given us overwhelming support,” said Luedke. “The business people, in general, have been supportive to the race team. They think this is a cool idea.”

“I’ve probably never been this excited about racing, at least for a long time,” said Luedke.

“Last year we raced only part-time but this year my crew and myself decided we need to race full-time,” said Luedke. “We tried golf and decided that you cannot take racers and turn them into golfers, it just doesn’t work.”

“Our goal is to be able to donate over $10,000 to Pink Party,” said Luedke. “We are going to run tracks at Manitowoc, Plymouth, Chilton, Beaver Dam, Dodge County and Oshkosh, but that will depend on their racing schedules some weeks.”

“So we want to win championships and $10,000 to give to Pink Party,” said Luedke. “We are going to give them the money on a weekly basis.”

When Luedke isn’t racing or working on the race car he is selling Pioneer Corn, Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer, cash crops 800 acres and does custom harvesting.

“We will be busy farming and racing and we will also be taking the car to Farm Technology Days in Barron County this year,” said Luedke.

“So, we have two motives,” emphasized Luedke. “Help with breast cancer awareness and promote dirt track racing which is a good, family activity.”

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