Jared Siefert has become one of the top IMCA Modified drivers in Wisconsin
By Joe Verdegan
Full Throttle Magazine contributor
Jared Siefert remembers watching his dad Art Siefert race in the Sportsman division at Shawano Speedway when he was a mere four years old.
That’s when the racing bug bit the younger Siefert. Racing’s in his blood and it’s likely to stay for some time. During the past few seasons Siefert has established himself as one of the top IMCA Modified drivers — not only in Wisconsin — but in the nation. While Siefert is known for getting his jump start in racing by driving a street stock he built himself, it’s a little known fact that Jared actually ran an IMCA Modified in his first outing.
“I grew up watching dad race in the old sportsman, and that’s when the sport really caught on with me,” Siefert says. “Dad had a modified he built and raced in 1996 at Thunderhill Raceway [in Sturgeon Bay]. Dad let me race it a few times that year. I didn’t make too big a fool of myself.”
That winter, Jared began building his first race car — a street stock. “I was really surprised, almost upset at the time, that my Dad didn’t help me more with that first car,” Siefert recalls. “But now I know why he did it, and I am very grateful to him for that. When you build something on your own, you learn a lot more. You learn a lot from your mistakes. He was doing me a favor at the time and I guess I was too young to realize it.”
Siefert didn’t finish his street stock until probably mid-season in 1997. “I think it was around Fourth of July weekend that I got it out,” Siefert says. “From that day forward, I raced three nights a week (Fridays at Luxemburg, Saturdays at Sturgeon Bay and Sundays at Seymour). I learned a lot. I’m glad I built my own stuff and struggled early on.”
With all the seat time Siefert got early on, the wins came in time. So did the track championships. Siefert’s first track title came in 1999 at Luxemburg. “Back then there were quite a few more street stocks around,” Siefert says. “The IMCA Hobby Stocks weren’t introduced until years later. It was pretty competitive then.”
In 2000, Siefert made the jump to the IMCA Modified division. “Going from a big, heavy street stock to a lighter, more responsive IMCA Modified was like night and day,” Siefert says. “The competition was equally as tough, and the cars carry a much heftier price tag.”
Siefert worked the learning curve of the modifieds quickly, earning rookie-of-the-year honors at Seymour, which then was a Tri-Oval. “I didn’t mind the tri-oval really,” Siefert says. “When it was prepped right, it was pretty much a driver’s track.”
Two years later, Siefert ran a mid-week show at Manitowoc County Expo, where he earned another track championship. Soon, Siefert would race anywhere and everywhere he could. “There is no substitute for seat time,” Siefert says. “The more you race, the more you learn about your car. If there was a race, and it got rained out, if I had time to switch gears and run somewhere else I would. It was around 2005 I began to take a serious look at the state and regional titles.”
It was that season when Siefert took the title at Seymour. With that, he also won IMCA’s state championship. “Things really started clicking for me around that time,” Siefert says. “It got to the point that pretty much everywhere we ran, we were always competitive and a threat to win.”
When the 2006 racing season concluded, it was another year and another title. This one at Thunderhill Raceway. “Thunder Hill is a driver’s track,” Siefert says. “It’s very round, almost a circle, and you’ve really got to wheel your way around there.”
After years of netting more top five finishes than he could count, and feature wins, Siefert hit the peak of his career in 2007. He scored the ultimate hat trick — track titles at three tracks: Luxemburg Speedway, Shawano Speedway and Seymour Speedway. With that, came the state, regional and national IMCA titles.
“When they announced my name as IMCA’s national champion at their banquet, that was without a doubt the highlight of my career,” Siefert says. “It really means something to me. One of the main reasons it does is because the tracks that I did win the car counts were the highest and had probably the toughest competition around. I’m most proud of that.”
That year, IMCA had altered its points system, whereas drivers were awarded bonus points for championships based upon car counts. “That following spring at Beatrice (Nebraska) I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Siefert recalls. “That’s sort of the heart of IMCA country and a lot of those drivers down there felt I didn’t deserve to be the champion. I went down there as a man on a mission.”
Siefert experienced what he felt was the biggest disappointment of his career. “I was leading the main down there, with many of the big dogs on hand and I broke a gear with seven laps to go,” Siefert says. “Needless to say, I was pretty dejected. I wanted to prove ’em all wrong, and I couldn’t.”
With the national title came national recognition. “It was kind of cool because wherever you went, even the IMCA Supernationals at Boone (Iowa), drivers have that certain amount of respect for you with the national championship,” Siefert says. “The best I’ve ever done down at Boone was a sixth place finish. I started 29th after coming through a last chance race. Boone is big but the draw is such a huge part of it down there, it really is.”
For 2010 Siefert’s game plans changed a bit. After winning three straight track championships at Shawano, he’s decided to race Saturday nights at Thunderhill Raceway in Sturgeon Bay. “I bought a house in Luxemburg, and I’m just that much closer to Sturgeon Bay is all,” Siefert says. “Winning titles at Shawano was important to me. My dad is a native of Shawano, and he was a Sportsman champion there. So from a history standpoint, I’m glad I was fortunate enough to win a couple there.”
With the introduction of a new dirt track in the area (141 Speedway) Siefert has altered his game plan a bit for 2010. “We’re gonna run three nights a week, but we’re taking Sundays off this year,” Siefert says. Nothing against Seymour, it’s a great program. But racing Wednesdays, Fridays and then Saturdays, it’s nice to have a day where you don’t have to hustle to get to the track. I’ve been golfing a couple of times already, so we’re enjoying it.”
This year Siefert has a brand new 2010 GRT chassis at his disposal. “We’re working a few of the bugs out of it, but we’re doing fairly well so far,” Siefert says. “We’re going to keep tweaking on it. For now, I plan on keeping up with the IMCA modifieds. It’s still pretty competitive. I’ve raced these cars a lot over the years, so I’ve stayed up on the technology with them. Our goal for this year is to win features. Points titles are nice, but when you race for points, you forget how to race to win. It’s about getting that checkered flag at the end of the night.”
(This article first appeared in the May 2010 issue of Full Throttle Magazine)