Travis Buth: Crushing It

Bracket racer Travis Buth and his 1986 Ford Mustang have had a steady relationship since the car was hauled out of storage a few years ago, and together, they have tapped into a little bit of magic at the drag strip.

“We bought the car forever ago and just put it in the shed,” Nineveh, Indiana-based Buth said. “We bought it for $300 because we just wanted the engine, but we never really thought we’d do anything with it.”

The Crusher at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Photo credit: Daisy Bennett)

The Ford, nicknamed “The Crusher,” probably isn’t the prettiest car at the drags, but Buth explained that when they pulled it out of the barn, he and his racing cohorts – dad Ellis A. and brother, Ellis V., among them – saw potential. At the very least, they thought they could piece the Mustang together to use as a temporary substitute while his regular racecar was out of commission.

“It looked terrible; it was nine different colors, but it went together really well, and it’s been a really good car. It’s perfect for what we’re doing with it,” he said.

The Crusher might not be pretty, but this car gets the job done. (Photo: NHRA Division 3 Facebook)

Buth finished a very respectable No. 4 in the Sportsman standings in last season’s Brown’s Oil Service E.T. Bracket Series presented by Comfort Suites – due in part to a victory at Lucas Oil Raceway in June – and his most recent triumph was last November when he closed out 2020 with a Sportsman win at Beacon Dragway in Paducah, Kentucky.

The Crusher Mustang had already proved you can’t judge a book by its cover, though. Buth and his funky hot rod won the 2019 Division 3 Summit E.T. Series Finals, and for their joint effort, the man-and-machine duo earned that coveted ticket to Pomona for the NHRA Finals.

Although the national championship did not evolve for Buth and The Crusher that weekend, it was still an experience the former Jr. drag racer will not soon forget.

“It was our first time racing at Pomona, and it was completely different than anything we’d done before,” Buth said. “I had an idea what to expect, but you really don’t know until you’re there. There’s just so much history at that track. Winning the E.T. Finals was the biggest win of my life, because it meant I got to race there.”

All hail The Mighty Crusher!

Pssst. Scroll down for a little bit of trivia.

Travis Buth was 8 years old when he started his career in drag racing, following in the footsteps of older brother Ellis and sister Shannon.

“Once they started, I was hooked. There was no way I wasn’t going to race,” Buth admitted. “It was the beginning of a pretty bad addiction.”

Buth won the E.T. Finals in the 8-9 Year Old category the year after he started, and he socked away a very cool win at the Halloween Nationals in 2004. At 16 years of age, it was time to expand his resumé, so he started bringing out his street car, a 2002 V-6 Ford Mustang, and at 19, he built his first real racecar with his dad, a 1993 Mustang.

Between his own cars and the ’89 Mustang he shared with brother Ellis, Buth has been to well over two dozen final rounds.

Buth and The Crusher in the lanes at the 2019 NHRA Finals


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