Travis Harvey is a busy man. The veteran North Carolina drag racer known by many as the “Carolina Kid” is running a full PDRA season in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive, where he won just his second race in the class earlier this year. He’s also pulled double duty in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous at multiple races, driving a late-model Corvette owned by Vaughn Miles and Eric Holland. He races that same car in Piedmont Dragway’s legendary Big Dog Shootout series. If that wasn’t enough, Harvey has also driven a handful of different bracket cars and no-time cars this season between testing and actual competition.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #184, the State of Drag Issue, in September/October of 20.]
“This season’s probably been the busiest I’ve been,” Harvey says from a dyno session at Modern Racing in Mooresville, North Carolina. “I can’t even do much bracket racing because we’re doing a lot of heads-up stuff. We’re running the whole PDRA season and all the Big Dog races, and a lot of work in between with my main job and just working with the race cars. It’s been a busy schedule. I haven’t had a weekend off in I don’t know how long.”
Harvey isn’t complaining. It’s just additional seat time for someone already known as one of the most versatile drivers in drag racing. An accomplished wheelman in bracket racing, grudge racing, and clocks-on heads-up racing, Harvey won in Top Dragster at the first-ever PDRA race at Rockingham Dragway in 2014. He added a Pro Nitrous win in 2016, and this season, he won the Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix at Virginia Motorsports Park to add Pro Boost to that list.
Harvey’s venture into Pro Boost started late in the 2022 season when Miles wanted to add a boosted car to the team’s program. Around the same time, a post circulated Facebook advertising one of the GALOT Motorsports Pro Boost ’69 Camaros available for rent. Harvey, Miles, and Holland got together with Pro Line Racing’s Eric Dillard and GALOT Motorsports owner Earl Wells, and the group signed a deal to bring Harvey into the Steve Petty-led GALOT program.
During the break in the PDRA schedule between the U.S. 131 Northern Nationals presented by Talbert Manufacturing in early August and the Red Line Oil Carolina Nationals, September 14-16, at Darlington Dragway, Harvey spoke with Drag Illustrated for an interview about his experience in Pro Boost.
You race in numerous different cars and forms of drag racing. What does it take to go back and forth between these different cars?
It’s just seat time, and you kind of just relax and think about what car you’re in. I can fit in about anything. I know I’m tall, but I’m slim, so I can get in just about anything. Sometimes I’m more cramped than others, but the biggest issue I have – and it’s not that bad – is just the burnout on different engine combinations. I try to take care of the engine, so I don’t like to over-rev them. I don’t use rev limiters or anything like that. That’s the main thing. Going from a nitrous car to a boosted car, it’s a difference in the feel of the throttle. That’s probably the only issue I have. And the small-tire stuff is definitely a different feel. Running big tire then going to a 275 radial, it’s a big difference in the seat of the pants.
What did it mean to you to get that first Pro Boost win at Virginia?
It was awesome. I loved it. What I like about PDRA is the competition is really tough in Pro Nitrous and Pro Boost. Any of the qualified 16 cars can win. I’ll take a win any way I can get it, but I earned it. It’s more gratifying to have a win like that. Hopefully we can get many more. It was cool because I won in a class I never won in, so that was pretty good.
You’ve gone head-to-head with your longtime Big Dog rival, Jason Harris. What’s it been like racing with him at this level?
Man, me and Jason go back a long ways. We bracket raced together. It’s just a local rivalry. When we go head-to-head, we know both will be pretty good on the starting line. The cars are running good. I’m tired of racing him, to be honest with you, because he’s a very good competitor. It’s fun, but it’s tough racing against him. He’s got a great deal over there. We go back and forth. Sometimes in PDRA, I’ll get him, then we go to Piedmont for Big Dog and he’ll beat me. It’s fun for the fans, but I know me and him are about tired of racing each other.
Has there been anything about Pro Boost that’s surprised you?
I knew going in the competition would be tough, but it’s actually tougher than I thought. Everybody’s got great stuff. PDRA and John Sears [tech director] and Tyler [Crossnoe, series director] and all the guys there have made the competition between the different combos pretty close. Anybody can beat you. It’s hard to win. Some guys are a little better than others, but anybody can win. But I like the competition.
You brought back out the other GALOT car recently. What was the reason for that move? What’s the plan for the rest of the season with the Pro Boost car and the Pro Nitrous car?
The plan from the start was to have two GALOT cars, the gray car and the car that I’m driving right now. That car was being repaired, but it wasn’t ready in time for me to drive. Marcus Birt was going to run the gray car in the small-tire, Radial vs. the World stuff, and I was going to drive the black and orange GALOT car in PDRA and select Pro Mod races. It wasn’t ready, so we had to run the gray car. I think they finished it up in May or so and got it back together. At the ProStars race, we brought it out and just wanted to test it to see how well it worked compared to the gray car. It’s actually probably better, so the plan is to stick with it all year and hopefully run it next year.
I plan to run the Pro Nitrous car the rest of the year. Our main goal was to run a select few PDRA races, but run it at all the Big Dog races. We left that car in Big Dog trim most of the year because the weights are different. Going back and forth is tough. We have one more [Big Dog] race, so after that we’ll put it in Pro Nitrous trim and run it the rest of the year. So I’ll be double dutying. I like doing that because it keeps me going and I get more seat time and hits at the tree. It’s a lot of work, but I think it makes me a better driver.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
My goal is to win the championship. I know we’re sitting third, three or four rounds out, but we got a great car and a great team. Steve Petty and the guys that maintain the car are great. I think we have a shot at it, we just need a little luck.