Honoring the Extraordinary Kyle Seipel

Kyle Seipel was that guy. He was that guy everyone had a story about, the one everyone wanted to know, talk to, laugh with, and learn from. Kyle Seipel was that guy, and when cancer so cruelly took his life on June 21, 2021, drag racing was left with a Grand Canyon-sized hole in its heart. Kyle was just 50 years old, and the terrible ache within the community is just a shadow of what his family, including wife Dana, children Sydney and Hudson, and parents Ted and Georgia are left with.

Kyle Seipel at the 1995 ET Finals at Bakersfield. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.
Kyle accepting the ET Finals Track Managers Award in 2017 at the Division 7 banquet. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.

By the time I was so fortunate to join this drag racing community in 2007, Kyle had already earned a bucket of NHRA trophies and championships, like, a really big bucket. He claimed divisional and national event victories in Super Street, Super Gas, Super Comp, Stock, Super Stock, and Top Dragster; he won a dozen ET Finals; and he was a 10-time division champion. Everyone knew him, and nobody in their right mind wanted to race him.

After doubling at the 1993 Bakersfield ET Finals. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.

Kyle, known affectionately as “Big Nasty” within the racing community, proved he could drive the heck out of a racecar and win in anything, but another area where he really excelled was as a track manager and promoter. In 2010, he and Peter Biondo conceptualized and executed a little thing called the Spring Fling Bracket Races. Although the first rendition of the event did not produce exceedingly pleasing results, the two continued to fine-tune their race as thoughtfully as doting parents raising a child. The Spring Fling Bracket Races are now eagerly anticipated, well-attended, and incredibly fun events that set the bar ridiculously high, and that has had so much to do with the gentlemen running the show.

Kyle at the Las Vegas Divisional in 2017. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.

The closest I got to knowing Kyle on a personal level was through an interview I did with his mom, Georgia, in 2010 for DragRaceCentral.com. I remember that Georgia was smiling when she told me, “It was pretty cool when Kyle won his first national event in Seattle,” and then we got to discussing what it was like when Kyle was little. I wanted to know if it was challenging to balance her own racing (Georgia drove for about a decade, until Kyle was 16) while supporting her racing husband, Ted, and also keeping an eye on her son at the dragstrip.

I’m going to close this with Georgia’s response to that question, because when I went back and read her story this morning, I just felt like her reply perfectly summarized the formative years of a person who made an incredibly positive impact in the racing community, a guy who looked out for folks and was a friend to everyone, a man who was an incredible racer and a respected leader.

“It was easy bringing Kyle along to the races,” Georgia told me. “He always enjoyed it, and the racers treated him really well. There were a bunch of built-in babysitters there, and it was a big family. He had a lot of people watching over him.”

I have a feeling he’s returning the favor. Rest easy, Kyle Seipel.

The photos in this feature were thoughtfully provided by NHRA’s Division 7 photographer Bob Johnson, who captured so many of West Coast racer Kyle Seipel’s extraordinary moments at the dragstrip. The lead photo, also shown here, is the last photo that Bob took of Kyle. It was in the winner’s circle with Kyle’s good friend and teammate Justin Lamb, left, after winning the Division 7 race in March 2021 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Thank you for sharing your photos and memories with us, Bob.
Kyle with his dad, Ted Seipel, at the 1994 ET Finals at Bakersfield. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.
At the Las Vegas national event in April of 2017. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.
Another gem from the 1993 double-up at the Bakersfield ET Finals. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.
Kyle driving the Stone family COPO Camaro at the Division 7 race at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in April of 2019. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson Photography.

If you’ve got time today, spend a little of it getting to know Kyle Seipel through the links below.

Here is a moving piece by Drag Illustrated’s Nate Van Wagnen:
DI Tribute: Kyle Seipel

Here’s a really awesome story Kevin McKenna wrote for NHRA.com in 2018:
The Revival of Kyle Seipel

Here’s the Georgia Seipel story that ran on DragRace Central in 2010:
Mom to Many

Here’s a nice story by Megan Strassweg on the DragChamp website:
Kyle Seipel – 2019 Promoter of the Year

Here is a great interview by Warren Evans:
lovethislife Episode 10 – Kyle Seipel

2 thoughts on “Honoring the Extraordinary Kyle Seipel

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  1. Our heartfelt condolences to the Seipel Family. Rest In Peace Kyle ~ Val Sr., Rita, & Family

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