Rock Island Grand Prix racers remember Travis DeVriendt, lost life from suicide

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ROCK ISLAND-- As racers prepare their karts and talk strategy, competition isn't the only thing on their minds. The memory of a man who was instrumental to the success of the Rock Island Grand Prix is here too.

If you didn't know him personally, chances are you've heard his story.

Travis DeVriendt, better known on the track as Turbo, was a professional kart racer. The Grand Prix was his home turf.

Hundreds of go kart drivers, traveling speeds of more than 100-miles-per-hour will race through the downtown streets this weekend to see who takes home the gold.

Racers will run 10 lap sprints to determine their starting positions on Saturday for the finals Sunday, Sept. 3. There are more than 140 teams, some of which are coming from as far away as Ontario and Bermuda.

But the first race on Sunday is dedicated to their friend and raises awareness about suicide.

"That really is a mental illness, something that tends to be overlooked," says racer Nelson Ullinskey.

"Definitely like to raise awareness and let people know their life matters," says racer Matt Pewe.

Travis won't be their physically, but his friends he left behind will make sure he's never forgotten.

"Every time I'm on the track, I feel he's there with me. He's remembered this weekend for sure," says Pewe.

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