FYFFE — Dust fills the air as the lights begin to come on at Fort Payne Motor Speedway and fans begin to file in to take their seats in the grandstands for another exciting night of racing.
It’s just another ordinary Saturday night at the dirt track, but two of the stars on the track are anything but ordinary.
Brothers JT and Sam Seawright dominate the track just about every week. In 2014, JT took home the track championship with four feature wins in the A-Hobby late model division and Sam took home four wins in the pony stock division.
This season has been much of the same. JT is currently leading the championship points and took home his fifth win of the season last Saturday night. Sam has moved up to late models and won his first late model race in the sportsman series two weeks ago after dominating the pony car series.
Other than their successes, both of them are just two, ordinary hard-working local racers, except for one big detail — JT is 14 years old and Sam is just 11.
Neither one of them can legally drive a car, but they dominate the local dirt track.
A major feat to most people, but to them it’s just what they do and they love it along with winning.
“It just feels natural,” Sam said. “I feel like I was born to do it.”
How they started
The desire to race started at an early age for both racers.
Their father, Ron Seawright, owns a construction company and the boys have been around and operated all kinds of heavy machinery since they were old enough to walk.
“Any piece of equipment you can think of, they know how to run it, and run it well,” Ron said.
Three years ago, Ron received a call from his wife, saying JT, the oldest brother, had decided to take his experience operating motor vehicles to a different level.
“My wife called me one day and said JT traded his Mule ATV for a racecar. I said, ‘Well tell him not to.’ She said, ‘I can’t. The guy is already on his way from Kentucky with the car.’ He was 11 at the time,” Ron said. “I went ahead and decided to just let him learn on his own.”
Ron and JT then went and ran some practice laps for track owner Marvin Ford to make sure JT could keep up and compete on the racetrack. It took four laps for Ford to see that JT had everything a driver needed to compete.
But JT soon found out it took more than just a desire to win to be a good racecar driver.
“We weren’t the fastest out here when we first started,” JT said. “We were competitive, but then we really started trying some different things with the car and things really took off after that.”
Even in the early days of not having a lot of success, JT knew this was something he loved doing.
“I was a little nervous at first,” JT said. “You’ve got a lot of adrenaline when you get out there going 100 mph in a circle. You’re trying not to hit anybody while still trying to go fast and be consistent. Now, though, it’s just like sitting in the recliner at home.”
After going through a quick learning phase, JT began taking over the track. Younger brother Sam saw the success and wanted a piece of the pie also.
At 9 years old, Sam followed in his brothers footsteps and began racing Pony cars and dominated.
Last season, he brought the checkered flag home fout times.
Now at 11, he’s competing in one of the highest divisions at FPMS in the sportsman series and brought home his first win two weeks ago.
Even at such young ages JT and Sam have a knowledge for racecars most veteran drivers don’t even have. They do all the work on the cars along with their mechanic Dustin Loudermilk and they know how to push the car to get the most out of it.
“You’ve got to be consistent,” Sam said on the challenges of driving. “You’ve got to save your tires and not burn them up and then save your motor and make sure it doesn’t turn too many RPMs.”
Loudermilk has helped them learn how to be better drivers and shown them how to take care of their cars. He said it’s crazy what they have been able to do at such a young age, but at the same time he knew all along they were capable of it.
“Both of them, since they were little have been able to operate any kind of equipment since they were old enough to walk,” Loudermilk said. “You name it, they can run it and they pick it up so fast and they are really knowledgeable. Anything really just comes natural to them.”
Ever since the two racers found success there’s been something they also found came along with it — controversy.
“Everybody out here hates us,” JT said.
Why do the other competitors feel this way?
“Because we’re kids and we’re winning,” JT said.
Most of the regular competitors have a respect for what the two have been able to accomplish, but occasionally somebody will get upset when either one of them show them how it’s done on the racetrack.
“One of them came up here and popped off to Sam and said, ‘Next week, you better tighten your seat belt up tight because I’m going to get you,’ Ron said. “Sam jumped up and said, ‘What’s wrong with right now? Bring it on.’ They aren’t going to take any crap.”
Having that fearlessness is what Ron said gives them an edge.
“It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’ll tell you one thing about those two — they don’t back down,” Ron said. “They run hard and they race. No fear, either one of them, they just race.”
A lot of the fans in the stands come to watch them race. Sam said some like them and some don’t.
“Some people like you and some people don’t,” Sam said. “You’ve just got to wave to the haters.”
Both JT and Sam stay close to home and race at local tracks, but that may change in the next few years. Ron said he would like to get them both in the same series before he moves them up to a bigger circuit.
He expects they’ll be at the same level in the next year and then they’ll move to a bigger series like the Lucas Oil Late Model series or the World of Outlaws series.
Both said if they got an opportunity to move up or even got a shot at NASCAR one day they would love it, but for right now they are just focused on the present.
Ron said he’ll be there to help them as long as they want to do this.
“They love it and as long as they still want to do it then I’m going to help them do it,” Ron said. “The way I see it is I’m teaching them to do something other than video games. I own a business large enough where they have a job already built in and I’m trying to teach them enough now where they can do it.”