New Disney Channel Series “Fast Layne” Brings Lifetime Love of Cars to Life for Longtime IMSA Racing Family
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

IMSA race fans – and especially fans of Colin Braun and the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi, which is engineered by Colin’s father, Jeff – are going to want to tune into The Disney Channel (or set their DVRs for) this Friday at 9:35 p.m. ET.

That’s when a new series called “Fast Layne,” from Colin’s younger brother, Travis, premieres. Travis is the creator and co-executive producer of what the network describes as “an action-comedy miniseries about 12-year-old overachiever Layne, who finds her orderly life thrown into a tailspin when she befriends a sophisticated talking car named ‘VIN.’”

Travis jokes that fans should tune in, “Because you love my brother and dad and want to support the Braun family.” But an even better reason is that IMSA fans are also fans of cars and technology, and VIN definitely fits that description.

“It’s the craziest, most sophisticated car I think you’ll ever see on television,” Travis says. “If we’ve done our jobs correctly, it’s a car like no other car. Especially knowing the cars on the IMSA grid, I feel like I have a little bit of experience and knowledge to be able to say that.”

Indeed, he does. Long before Travis made his way out to Hollywood to pursue his dream career as a writer, he was a key contributor in the family business of racing.

“Travis was a super integral part of Colin’s racing career,” explains Jeff Braun. “If it wasn’t for Travis, Colin wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing now, no chance in the world. I mean, Travis was rebuilding go-kart clutches and doing data on the karts. It was just the four of us when we were in karting and formula car racing. It was just (wife) Diane and myself, Colin and Travis.”

Longtime fans will recall when Colin Braun first arrived on the scene as a 16-year-old driver in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona, sharing the car with two other 16-year-olds in Brad Coleman and Adrian Carrio, as well as veteran sports car racer Ross Bentley in the No. 16 “Team 16” Porsche fielded by TRG. Jeff and a 15-year-old Travis Braun played key roles in that program as well.

 “I started working for my dad, just doing data, helping my dad on the scoring towers and helping with strategy,” Travis remembers. “I really loved that. I had a blast. My brother and my dad and I did the whole Team 16 thing. I just learned a lot about the sport through that and then used that knowledge to kind of go and transition into journalism, freelancing for Autoweek and then over to doing some stuff for USA Today.”

But just as Colin pursued his dream of becoming a professional race car driver, Travis eventually headed for Hollywood at the age of 20 to pursue his own dream.

“I’ve always wanted to write fiction,” Travis says. “That’s always really been the burning passion. After graduating from college, I saw an opportunity to come to Los Angeles and just try to use my writing skills for something a little different and get into TV and film. I really knew nobody out here in L.A. and did what a lot of 20-year-olds at that stage do and just moved out here.

“I did set PA (production assistant) work and hauled cables and set up lights and drove passenger vans, really just any kind of odd-end gig that I could get in L.A. I was working on web series and different things just trying to meet people. Eventually, I ended up as a writers’ assistant at (the) ‘Criminal Minds’ (television series) and I tell people that was sort of my MFA (Master of Fine Arts degree) in screenwriting.

“I spent two years with the pro network writers on that show, just learning how a show runs and how to write for a show and what makes good television writing. So, then I just used those skills and started pitching stuff around and tried to get something going.”

Travis turned out to be a pretty strong pitcher. In 2016, he wrote and produced the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial “Dorito Dogs,” which won a $1 million grand prize and aired during the big game. He also earned writing credits on the Netflix original series, “Turbo FAST” and an animated short for Nickelodeon called “Charlie and Mr. Two.”

For Disney Junior, he has written episodes for the “Vampirina,” “Puppy Dog Pals” and “Muppet Babies” series. And in addition to “Fast Layne,” Travis has an animated series called “T.O.T.S.” that will premiere on Disney Junior later this year.

Jeff is convinced that Travis’ background in racing can be attributed to what he’s now achieving in Hollywood.

“He kind of took that whole racing mentality and applied it to Hollywood and how you produce a show,” Jeff says. “The intensity that it takes and the commitment and the drive and determination that it takes in racing, he applied it to getting his TV show bought by Disney and now producing it in the same kind of manner.

“It’s amazing to me how much of a crossover there is between the two. I know absolutely nothing about producing television shows, but I’m learning quickly. It’s amazing how many similarities there are, a crew of people, a director, a writer trying to work with people on set, the camera people, the lighting people, the sound people, and then you have the actors, which are kind of like the drivers. There’s a huge similarity, and I think some of Travis’ earlier days maybe helped him out a little bit with what he’s doing now.”

Those earlier days definitely helped him arrive at the concept for “Fast Layne.”

“The whole inspiration for the idea came from me hanging out in my dad’s race shop,” Travis explains. “Colin and I would go out into the shop and he’d always have different cars in and out, prepping race cars. We’d be four or five years old, going around his race shop playing with our Legos and stuff, and I remember he had this Triumph Spitfire up on blocks in the shop.”

“I can’t remember exactly why it never raced. I never saw the thing move, but he had this car, so it was always there. I remember I would always go into the shop and pretend that it could talk and do voices and sort of wish that this car that I never saw move was actually sort of alive. That’s the inspiration behind the idea. I’ve always wanted to do a show about a talking car, about a car that had a personality.”

Both Travis and Colin – who finished second in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype championship standings with co-driver Jon Bennett and is widely considered one of the fastest drivers in IMSA – are quick to give credit to their parents and their upbringing for the success they currently enjoy.

“Certainly, the career that I’ve been fortunate to have, and seeing the success that my brother is having in a completely different discipline is fantastic,” Colin says. “Both of us are super fortunate to have the opportunities that we’ve had, and I think a lot of that comes down to both of our parents. I mean, my mom and dad instilled in both of us a lot of the early-on values and work ethic and things that both of us use in different disciplines, but we both use it the same way.”

“The big part to me is that we were afforded such an opportunity to specialize and do what we loved at an early age,” Travis adds. “Colin and I were both home-schooled all our lives and the big thing our parents pushed was – because we weren’t sort of beholden to a certain schedule or anything – it was about, very early on, find what you love to do. They supported us in that.”

As for Jeff and Diane Braun, they’ll once again see the fruits of their approach beginning this Friday night with the premiere of “Fast Layne.” The second episode will air Sunday, Feb. 17 when the series moves into its regular weekly time slot at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

“I think the ultimate goal for any parent would be for their kids to make a living doing what they love doing, doing what they dreamed about doing and doing what they wanted to do since they were little kids,” says Jeff. “They’re very fortunate to be able to do it. But as parents, just to be able to watch and be part of that and see them enjoy what they’re doing so much is kind of like the ultimate goal for a parent.”

Set Photo Credit: David Bukach