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Trackside with Seth

Lifestyle

Any life well-lived goes through many stages, with fresh chapters constantly unfolding. For Gateway Bronco founder and CEO Seth Burgett, the next chapter in his life is being written at high speed, behind the wheel of one of his race cars.

 

Burgett is deep into his freshman season of racing, with four wins to his credit and a track record following the Great Lakes Grand Prix with a target on another win and gunning for a second track record this fall. Although he’s undertaking a relatively late start in motorsports, he’s not chasing some whim. He’s been focused on racing for as long as he can remember. “This has been baked into me since the beginning,” he said. “This is who I am, grew up wanting to be a test pilot or race car driver. I feel at home behind the wheel.”

While growing up, family finances didn’t allow for Burgett to go racing, but he never stopped thinking about it. “When I was a kid, I dreamed of driving a go-kart. I’d sit in the driver’s seat, hit the gas to drive out of the garage — and wake up.”

 

That competitive nature played out in many athletic endeavors throughout his life. While in 6th grade, Burgett broke the local varsity high school’s track record for the mile. He is a lifelong water skier who “show-skied” during college, serving as a base in pyramids and barefoot water skier. Home from school for the summer, he would ski early in the morning to practice for the big 4th of July show. “Throughout the afternoons and evenings, I did auto body work in my parents’ garage. That’s how I earned my way through college, and restored a boat through three summers to pay for my wife’s wedding ring. That was the only way I could afford to get engaged before graduating college.” To this day Burgett competes in endurance barefoot skiing tournaments. Some years, he trains 12 months a year in the Midwest; even when other commitments knock him off schedule, he manages to ski every Wednesday night.

 

Testing his limits has never been a problem for Burgett. For his 40th birthday, he competed in his first Ironman triathlon. “That was my midlife crisis event,” he said with a laugh. “My wife and I went to Mexico, where I competed in Ironman Cozumel.” He followed that up in later years at Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Florida.

 

So it comes as no surprise that once Gateway Bronco was running smoothly, Burgett returned to his early passion for motorsports. “Participating in motorsports was a major personal goal from day one,” he said. “I became involved in the automotive industry because I love it so much, and the purest representation of enjoying automotive is competition in motorsports. Gateway Bronco enabled me to immerse myself into the auto industry and network with the right people to make these dreams come true.”

 

Among those new connections is his driving coach Billy Johnson, the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS champion, and a winner at Spa in a Chip Ganassi Ford GT. That coaching and Burgett’s desire and preparation have led to fast results.

 

He has attacked road racing from both ends of the spectrum — vintage racing behind the wheel of his 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang that is a historic car that competed in the 12 hours of Sebring in 1971 and 1972, and late-model competition with the Midwest Council of Sports Car Clubs in his 2011 Mustang GT, where he notched an overall victory this spring. Being able to switch between the precision of the modern car and the raw ferocity of the vintage Shelby has been hugely beneficial for accelerating his learning curve.

“Having those two experiences teaches you how to be a better driver,” he said. “It’s like cross-training as an athlete. You use the different workouts and different muscle groups to become stronger overall as an athlete. And that’s really what I’m doing with the two types of racing. I enjoy them both immensely. I couldn’t choose just one. I need both kinds of racing to be fulfilled.”

 

Naturally, the track offers lessons beyond the immediate race. “There are things you can learn from motorsports that apply to business. Racing teaches patience and to always apply risk management principles. That’s the entire theme of what we do at all points in racing, managing risk and being patient. The best drivers are smooth, consistent and patient. Those principles directly relate to being a successful business owner and entrepreneur.”

 

Seth Burgett waited his entire life for the right opportunity to make his move into the racing world. That patience and persistence paid off as he is turning those childhood dreams into reality.

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