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Drag racer accomplishes top-10 goal

Brian Seate entered the 2012 season looking for a top-10 finish in the Division 9 International Hot Road Association (IHRA) points standings.

The Clarksville resident and Halifax County Middle School teacher found the consistency he needed to reach his goal with a ninth-place finish in the season standings.

“It was a successful year,” said Seate, who pilots a car out of Seate Racing, his family racing stable.

“The goal was a top-ten finish in the points standings and we accomplished that. We qualified for every race, made it into the final four once and did not break a part all season. We were very pleased.”

Seate, competing for a complete season in the IHRA for the first time in several years, finished ninth out of 41 competitors in the final Division 9 standings. He competed in eight IHRA points races during the season, racing at venues from Richmond Dragway to Darlington, S.C. He also competed in three other events, giving him a total of 11 events for the season.

The car he piloted was a 1969 model Chevrolet Camaro powered by a 350 cubic-inch engine that generated 578 horsepower. In the Super Stock class in which he competed, the cars had to meet carburetor and weight restrictions, as well as other specified criteria.

“It was very similar to oval-track Late Model Stock Cars as far as the rules went,” Seate pointed out.

“The car had enough power to produce wheel stands of more than knee high.”

Seate competed in eight IHRA Division 9 points events, the maximum number of points events each competitor is limited to compete in during the season. He qualified for each race. His best effort was reaching the semifinals of an event at Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Among the 10 racers that were in the field, they had won a total of 26 championships,” Seate said in describing the level of the competition.

He came close to advancing to the finals in that event, getting beat by the ever-so-slight margin of seven one-thousandths of a second.

At Richmond Dragway, Seate missed advancing out of the quarterfinal round by eight ten-thousandths of a second.

“You can’t blink your eyes that quickly,” he remarked.

Seate scored his first round win at a points event at Benson, N.C. in July.

“I felt that was a turning point in our season,” Seate pointed out. 

“We keep a log book at each event on what we did to the car. We made some positive adjustments that day and found a little something that made a difference. Now we have notes that we can use next year.”

With his ninth-place finish, Seate failed to qualify to compete in the IHRA national championship event. Still, the season was a good one.

“No doubt, I would have loved to have been able to qualify for the nationals,” Seate said.

“Still, it was a good year for us. We came very close to reaching the higher rounds several times. I can’t count the number of runs that we had that could have gone the other way by a one one-thousandth of a second difference. It’s very frustrating when that happens, but that’s racing.”

Seate said the 2012 season was a learning year in many ways. First, the car that he and his father, Page Seate, put on the track was a new car. It was also the first time in a while that Seate, who has been drag racing since 1996, had competed in a full slate of IHRA points events.

“This was my first solid year back,” Seate pointed out.

“I owe my father, who did a lot of work on the car and was my crew chief, a big thank you for all he did to make this a successful season. He was a very big part of this. We were able to go down the track every pass. We had no problems and didn’t have to abort a single run.”

As far as the car was concerned, Seate said he had good equipment under him.

“Being that we had a new car, we knew we would have a big learning curve,” Seate pointed out.

“It all boiled down to not knowing the car. Now, we have good sets of notes to go by that will help us improve next year.”

As for next season, Seate plans to return to IHRA Division 9 competition.

“This year our goal was to finish in the top ten, so next year the goal is to finish in the top five,” Seate said.

“With the experience we gained and what we learned this season, I feel that top five is a reasonable goal. Anything above that will be icing on the cake.”