Loss and Found
Seth Wilson's Journey & Other Tales of Loss and Redemption
October 2012

what happens when a perfectly beautiful day goes terribly wrong

Seth Wilson

Victorville, March 26th, 2011

As soon as his front wheels left the ground and he lost steering, Seth Wilson knew he was done. As he braced for the first hit, the irony flitted across his consciousness, brand new frame and first time out. This was his track; Victorville, three-time track champion but his new friend fate could care less. As the front wheels lifted to the sky, the car rotated on the right rear, which wrenched the body into a corkscrew and hammer jacked that front right tire into the dirt, stretching front end metal, cable and rubber into something unrecognizable. As the car catapulted end over, the rear end came down hard and bounced the whole mess back into the air. He was tucked and braced but the violence was just beginning. The front end now hit like a pile driver into the hard clay. Another rotation coming down hard again on the front end. A fourth and final sickening flip with the motor still on the gas and this time coming down on the front end with a torque that was like a sledgehammer to his knee. His kneecap came into the steering shaft so hard it was just cleaved by the shape of the shaft, bone separated and pressure formed to wrap around that two inch column. Lying in that stinking mess, he was conscious and aware of hot blue power steering fluid dripping onto his body. He was trying to remove a bent steering wheel and crawl out, but body parts weren't working. Emergency personnel pulled him from the wreckage, took a look and mainlined morphine right on the track.

Blake Miller back in the day at Ventura

Rich Romine, sports writer extrodinaire for the Ventura County Star

Ventura is still a freewheeling cacophony of sunshine, engines and brightly colored sail kites, albeit in the dusty rear view mirror of my mind. Like a first girlfriend, that sense of anticipation and promise on the dark beach stays with you. I still remember those cool racing nights; we were invisible to the world in a fog of speed and daring. Nobody liked anybody and that was fine with everybody. It was all about the racing. Kierce, Rutherford, Taylor, Wakim, Crawford; the pits were stuffed with talent and winning at Ventura meant something. Gunslingers like Hockett, Spencer, Darland and Stanbrough all passed through like dreams. One night, somebody called somebody a liar and all hell broke loose. Chairs went flying, there was some gunplay and a lot of guys crawled out of there shot up pretty bad. They're still laid low in the hinterlands. It's too bad, those card games used to go all night. I don't know how many cowboys I saw hit that cushion and double down, they would just bet the whole farm. It was a wild time and some of us will never forget it. They say the racing is still good there and I have no reason to doubt it. But my friends are gone and I don't think you can ever really go back. That was something that happened then and now it's something else. The riverboat gambler split and I hear he is hiding out in Aqua Dulce. But no matter where I go, or how many tracks I haunt, I'll never forget that first time on the beach.

Jake Swanson, August 11, 2012, Santa Maria, CA

Ryan Bernal epitomizes focus and explosiveness

Semi Main, August 19th, 2012, Victorville, CA

Jace VanderWeerd rolls through Hanford

Although the morphine helped, the hospital at Ventura was a mess. Seth's dad got him Las Vegas and he went into surgery. They rebuilt the kneecap with wires and bolts. It was a long haul of pain and recovery. David Cardey checked in. But it was Wags who showed up at the hospital and sat with him. Not once, but repeatedly, checking him out and just sitting there. It was funny, I didn't really know Seth but he had emailed me a week before his accident, commenting on some article I had posted. So I felt we had a connection and I was waiting for him with my camera when he came around that corner at Victorville. I never posted the pictures, the carnage was strange to me and the whole thing seemed so personal. Knowing he was recuperating in Las Vegas, I was tempted a dozen times to call, but my jive bullshit LA lifestyle never got around to it. I was thinking about Seth a lot. You want to call, you want to visit but you just spin aimlessly on your busy smart phone orbit.

painting his masterpiece

"like watching Mark Twain, the Beatles and Sandy Koufax rolled up into some kind of bluegrass supergroup"

Yeah I've got a life and it's packed for the next few months; All Coast Challenge, new houses to build, wedding anniversary, winter surf, the Holidays... But the only thing I've really got on my schedule is to watch Mike Spencer and that wicked #50 team assault on the Oval Nationals. Forget the fact that they are going to make USAC history this year with five consecutive titles in one division, never before accomplished by anyone ever in the USAC universe. Screw that. It's my opinion that their hunger for the Oval Nationals is overwhelming and burning a hole in their hearts. Mike Spencer has evolved into the most thrilling driver on the track. I used to see him as cautious and conservative, now I can't take my eyes off of his ruthless focus and execution. Fascinating how he stalks a race, sizing up the quarry and judging the conditions. Then the vicious bursts of speed as he runs down the leaders. The passing becomes an art form, metal and mind melded to counter every physical law of nature controlling particle, mass and motion. Forget the sloppy pushing and shoving, he will whisper sweet nothings in your ear…you turn to smile…he is already gone. I never thought the Perris fans gave Mike enough credit. I asked him about it, he's says he's never given it a thought. Ron, Bruce, Mike and the whole damn crew, it's like watching Mark Twain, the Beatles and Sandy Koufax rolled up into some kind of bluegrass supergoup. They're channeling Bromme and weaving something money can't buy. It doesn't get any better than this.

still in flight

Seth's shattered knee

Tougher Than the Rest

Seth first popped up again at last years Oval Nationals. Tough bird Ray Stansbury dragged a car out of the barn, put him in and cut him loose from his fears. I was startled to see Seth standing in the trailer; he looked a little heavy and a little tentative. Told me he was afraid of flipping again but he also had a fear that he might be washed up. He posted results below his average, but it was the Oval Nationals. He realized he still had the will to drive. Continued his rehabilitation, came back hard in 2012 with his own car and his father at his side. He raced his way back into the top ten at Perris. He was on a roll and showing the spit and determination that were his trademarks. Then last month he crashed again at qualifying. I went by the trailer and it was dark. Seth stood in the shadows, his arms above his head as he hung onto the overhead lift. "My head hurts, my knee hurts, my wallet hurts…" he told me. I could tell tomorrow was really going to hurt. I was looking hard for him at the next race; he never showed but I'm still waiting. I have been thinking a lot about struggle and success. It's incredibly hard to be the best; unbelievably difficult to recover from a devastating injury. I was chasing racing all summer long. I'm not cut out for this. I have been experienceing a profound sense of loss and found.

Ercse does his part

Chuck Tyler Motorsports rocks

my friend the inscrutable Buzzard

Peter the Great, Bakersfield CA

Marty Hawkins, October 6th 2012, Perris CA

Loss and Found

Seth Wilson brings it all back home, March 2012, Perris CA