Letter from Seth: Spirit of Competition
by Seth Burgett, founder and CEO of Gateway Bronco
In previous newsletters, we shared my experiences while working to achieve some lifelong goals in auto racing. “Throttle therapy” is another way to channel this competitive spirit.
Currently we campaign two cars as a driver of a 1967 Shelby Mustang in vintage racing series such as SVRA, as well as a 2011 Mustang GT in road racing classes as a factory spec race car that competed in the NASA championships in 2011 and 2012. Both cars are historic, with racing history since new. I started an amateur racing career in 2022 and was blessed with immediate success in our rookie season. In seven starts, our team took home four wins, five podiums, one track record (three unofficial records) and a championship in the Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs Super Performance Class.
Racing is a team sport. Some people think it’s all about adrenaline and that is simply not the case in our experience. There is far more to it than adrenaline and competition. It’s more about finding a flow state while enjoying the weekend with a team of dedicated and talented people. Racing helps me in ways that go beyond the thrill of mixing it up with competitors on track. The discipline and patience required to field a successful racing team is simply an extension of being a leader in business. The required skills are the same.
Racing adds value to our business. We don’t market Gateway Bronco with logos like NASCAR on the side of our race cars, it is a private effort for us. Racing provides a mental cleansing followed by vivid clarity that delivers a positive impact on the business for a minimum of three weeks following a successful race weekend.
Our leadership team knows that part of my pre-race routine includes preparing everything around me to be in order, to be laser-focused on whatever initiatives are in motion at Gateway Bronco. When returning on Monday after a race, our leadership team notices extraordinary focus about our business initiatives. The biggest ideas come during those moments of clarity, which is really the best part of those efforts.
In addition, we are interacting with industry peers at these racing events. It’s another opportunity to create connectivity and build relationships within the automotive community.
I’ve always had a competitive nature and that spirit has helped at every stage of life. In college, I performed as a barefoot water skier and show skier during a 4th of July holiday ski show each summer.
The teamwork involved in show skiing is similar to the teamwork required in racing. In the ski show, there were years that I anchored the base of the pyramid, a tremendous responsibility for the safety of everybody involved. It was risk with real consequences, but also was some of the best teamwork and team building exercises that I’ve ever experienced. As a young person in college, that made a big impact.
When midlife was approaching, it became clear a 40th birthday celebration should include an epic challenge. Completing an Ironman triathlon became the target. I selected Ironman Cozumel as the event to properly celebrate a 40th birthday! Successfully completing Ironman triathlons in Cozumel, Wisconsin, and Florida taught new lessons in perseverance and endurance that have been carried into the business world. The triathlon experiences inspired me and my business partner to create Yurbuds headphones specifically designed for athletes in 2008. Before selling the Yurbuds business to a Samsung company in 2014, we carved out 40 percent of the North American market share against competitors like Nike, Sony and Philips. We took a leadership position in the sport headphone category, changing the landscape of the headphone category with an athlete mindset. Our team was the David and Goliath story, and we came out a winner against competitors that included giants of the industry.
Success in business, as in racing, means that you never rest on your laurels. Gateway Bronco has ground-breaking new products arriving later this year, and my racing calendar is likewise stepping up to another level. We were invited to race in the Velocity Invitational at Sonoma Raceway in November, a highly publicized tier 1 event, the “Goodwood” of North America. It’s a great honor that I take seriously.
The race we will be competing in is the Mustangs vs Minis enduro, one of the Invitational’s most popular events. It should be a wonderfully entertaining race. We Mustang drivers will have great power going up the hills, and the Minis will have slot car performance through the turns. The Shelby Mustang is fully prepared and completely refreshed for this season, mechanically and electrically ready to take on that Velocity Invitational. I expect it to be one of our favorite events to date.
I’ve been a longtime advocate for mentoring, executive coaching and athletic coaching as an adult. This translated directly to driving. By engaging world class development drivers and my personal driving coach Billy Johnson, we have seen the preparation produce immediate results. For the Velocity Invitational, we are preparing with Sim Racing Chicago along with SimCraft factory racing simulators for realistic driving experiences. Spending a day on their simulator working with seasoned coaches is our method to prepare for Sonoma and Road America which we consider “high-consequence” tracks, meaning that an off-track event could involve higher than average consequences for the vehicle, as well as endangering drivers when an incident does occur. We’re doing sim time for those tracks in a car that mimics the Shelby Mustang. The other preparation we are doing is during Monterey Car Week in August there is a NASA event at Sonoma we’re planning to race in our Mustang GT as practice.
Racing has been a kind of “reset or erase button.” When we go away for a weekend of racing, everything is cleansed and purged. It is better than a vacation. In fact, the ultimate reset is go to a race weekend and then immediately go on vacation. That’s the plan for this year, with a racing weekend followed by a trip to Glacier National Park with our oldest child as a 1:1 trip to the backcountry.
I expect to return intensely focused on leading our talented team of professionals to keep Gateway Bronco at the head of the pack as we launch our most advanced re-imagined Ford Bronco yet to the world starting at Monterey.
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