RISING STAR IN INDY CARS By Ernest Engemoen (feature community/sports story, early August 95, T.Seibert DOB Mar. 4/67) There have been only a couple of Cariboo race car drivers who have got the attention of the Americans at their ultimate...
RISING STAR IN INDY CARS By Ernest Engemoen (feature community/sports story, early August 95, T.Seibert DOB Mar. 4/67)
There have been only a couple of Cariboo race car drivers who have got the attention of the Americans at their ultimate racing event, the Indy 500. But then, proving to the Yankees that Canada has more going for it than good beer and bad weather is a formidable task. Ed Crombie was the first to have a shot at it. He was a modified race car driver in Williams Lake during the 1970's.
His dream was to compete in the Indianapolis 500. His hopes, like his race car, were dashed against the outside wall of the Brickyard during an attempt to qualify for the event. Crombie then was forced to try to qualify an out-dated back-up car with a borrowed, less-powerful engine. He didn't make the field. But in this prestigious form of motor sport, very few get even this near to competing in the greatest auto race on earth.And our own Ed Crombie, from the little hick-town of Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada was the first to come close.
Ironically, during this time period, a go-kart race was held in downtown Williams Lake. Mart Street and Fourth Avenue were part of the course. One of the competitors was a travelling competitor, fourteen year-old Scott Goodyear. Yep, the same dude who would come in second in last year's Indy 500. He is one of the racing Canucks, along with Paul Tracy and Jacques Villeneuve (this years Indy 500 winner who robbed Goodyear of the win because of a track infraction by Goodyear). They are proving to the Americans and the rest of the world just how much racing talent there is in the Canadian hinterland.
But who was the local nine-year old kid at the go-kart race? The kid in the under-powered, single engine kart? The youngster who yearned to run down and pass the out-of-town hot-shot, Scott Goodyear? Yep! He was Karl and Rita Seibert's young son Trevor. He didn't have equipment as fast as Goodyear's, but he had the heart.
I noted this same "heart" displayed in his driving desire some ten years later at the local stock-car track. Trevor decided to buy a well-used, out-dated stock-car and try to compete against the older, more experienced drivers. It was already past the half-way point of the season when he joined the fray. The new kid's car was no match for the field, but he didn't give up. He'd drag the old car to his shop after each race and work on improving it for the next event.
By season's end, even the gung-ho Trevor Seibert conceded that you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. He went car-shopping for the next season. Trevor's cousin Heino Seibert was the track's local hot-shot at this time. Cousin Heino was preparing a new car and he sold Trevor his well-used Torino, less engine. Trevor jerked the motor from his old Galaxy 500 and assembled the re-cycled Torino for the next season.
Trevor was still just a kid and he was walking in some pretty big foot prints. He had the previous year's track champion's car and the same last name. As Trevor went through his learning-curve, the local wags would draw a comparison to his highly-accomplished cousin Heino.
"He's not as fast as Heino", they would say. "Heino would have been able to make that pass" he was always being ribbed. Competing against his lead-footed cousin's legend was quite some task for the youngster. A task Trevor was more than ready for.
Never mind the fact that cousin Heino now had a full-cheat, brand-new, professionally built T-Bird race car. Trevor had heart. Trevor hung in there. He knocked the nose off that old Torino so often that front-clips for old intermediate sized Fords were at a premium at all the Cariboo auto wreckers.
But the kid did learn, and learn well. He learned to ignore the negativity of the nay-sayers. He learned how to do body-work. He learned how to drive. He learned how to win. All these things are teachable. But you have to be born with the drive or heart to be able to go for it.
Young Trevor Seibert had a double-serving of both.
During these times, the proudest I became of Trevor was during the year-end race at Monroe Washington. He showed up with his battered hick-built hobby-stock Torino, complete with a beer keg gas tank. And this was to race with the American super-stock racers, no less!
The track tech-officials cut the kid some slack because he had travelled so far. They passed his "Pilsner fuel-cell" -- for this one time only! And, after time-trials they politely pointed out that his pedal to the metal, broad-sliding dirt-track style was not to be used at their asphalt track.
If you were not part of their year-end points championship, starting positions for the feature race were drawn by lot. The local top-points guys started out front. Cousin Heino drew last position and Trevor Seibert drew the second to last starting position. I still am a bit suspicious of the fact that the only two Canadians in the field drew that last two positions. Coincidence?
No matter. When the green flagged waved, the Canuck cousins started chewing their way through the 25 car field. When the checkered flag dropped, Heino had came in first and Trevor, the skinny kid in the battered Torino was solidly in third place. Only one high budget American racer had managed to barely beat him.
Yes, in racing as in milk, the cream does rise to the top of the bucket.
After campaigning the Torino for a year Trevor wanted something faster. His father, Karl was also bit by the racing bug. Together, this father and son team built two matching late-model Camaro hobby-stock race cars. Trevor raced in this local class for two and a half years.
After this top-of-the-local-crop racing, Trevor decided to try racing something, faster and more professional. He bought a new Camaro and signed on to the Players/GM Showroom Stock Camaro and Firebird class of Canadian wide racing. He was western Canadian rookie-of-the-year. The third year he earned the western Canadian top-points championship. He holds the record fast time at Westwood Raceway and he timed in the fasted on the Vancouver Indy road course every year he competed with his Camaro.
During this period of his racing career we locals were thrilled to see Trevor Seibert featured on TBS, ESPN and the national television networks. His driving style, winning ability, photogenic presence and glib, post race interviews were garnering national and international attention.
But the racer didn't forget his home-town fans. He returned to compete in the biggest race held in Williams Lake, the Stampede Open. Trevor borrowed his father's car and easily won the feature event. He then left his $700 dollar winnings to be divided-up among the local competitors.
This national attention earned him a couple of years driving in the Formula Atlantic division of formula auto racing. During his first year in Formula Atlantic he also continued racing in the Players/GM Camaro class. Driving in two classes at the same time didn't slow him down at all. At Calgary's Race City, Trevor Seibert broke the world track record for fast time on any half-mile track in his Formula Atlantic car. He also was fast time of the day on the road course in the Camaro. There was only minutes between the races and Seibert had no time to adjust to the different courses or types of car.
He won the two races, back to back, one on the oval with the Formula Atlantic and one on the road course with the Camaro. In the Formula Atlantic race Seibert had lapped the second place finisher! Just more of that heart and talent thing. This was the period when Seibert moved to Langley, B.C.. He bought a body-shop to help fund his racing but the main reason for the move was to be closer to airline connections, sponsors and big-time racing.
It has taken Trevor Seibert twenty years of blood, sweat and tears to work his way from that local go-kart to a near-Indy ride. But he is close, awfully close to being able to compete with Scott Goodyear again. He has once again re-located his family. This time his wife Julie and the kids packed-off to Toronto to facilitate Trevor moving upwards in the racing world.
Trevor Seibert is rapidly becoming a world-class race car driver. He is currently competing in the Indy Lights class of open-wheeled race cars. He is driving car #98 for the Victor Sifton owned Canaska Racing Team. The sponsor of the team is Microsoft whose C.E.O. is Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. Seibert's team-mate is Mario Andretti's son, Jeff. Seibert has a top-notch team, a well-heeled sponsor and the son of the most famous open-wheeled racer in the world as a team-mate.
The money will come in handy. That was Trevor in the spectacular AP photo which ran in most of the North American newspapers a couple of weeks ago. The picture showed the aftermath of Trevor going for third spot, rounding the last corner before the checkered flag at the Cleveland, Ohio road-course. Unfortunately, his pass was blocked by Doug Boyer and Seibert was catapulted 50 feet in the air at 140 miles per hour. Trevor emerged from the rubble conscious, with only minor injuries. However; the two-hundred thousand dollar car was totally destroyed.
"The wreckage landed so close to the finish line that one more bounce would have earned him the third place finish anyway", joked his father, Karl Seibert.
And where will all this potential and notoriety lead Trevor Seibert?
These cars are only one small step away from an Indy Car ride. The ultimate race for Indy Cars is the Indianapolis 500. Only 33 drivers a year qualify for this event. Trevor Seibert, our home-town racing hero, has as good a chance as anyone of becoming one of them.
He was born with the heart, but he's earned the ride.