By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The contributions one makes for the sport that they love can be measured by their connections, friends they make, the jobs they work, and their dedication to the sport. That is a brief description for motorsports journalist Jacob Seelman.
Seelman is more than simply a racing reporter. He works announcing and public relations at Millbridge Speedway and as an announcer for Podium eSports. Seelman is also a historian and statistician following the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series and the Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He is also a photographer and can often be found taking photos throughout many race weekends.
The long-time motorsports journalist does all this despite having cerebral palsy.
Professionally, Seelman’s contributions to motorsports started in 2013 with Race Chaser Media. At the time, he was still a student at Winthrop University, covering various series ranging from NASCAR to World of Outlaws, to the Bojangles Summer Shootout and much more. He still works with Race Chaser Media’s Tom Baker, on the radio show Motorsports Madness.
“I gave him the platform and the guidance to build his chops and his brand as a writer and a broadcaster and we worked together to help others learn their craft as well,” Baker recalled. “His passion matched mine and he worked hard enough to make the energizer bunny cry uncle… He is in the perfect place now working with Speed Sport because he is able to focus much of his time on open wheel racing, his first love. We still do radio together and I am really happy that he was given the award because he works extremely hard to serve the sport well.”
Most recently, Seelman was one of a handful of media members on-site for the 2021 Chili Bowl Nationals. There, he was named 410 Sprint Car Poll Co-Media Member of the Year by the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. This marked Seelman’s fourth consecutive year covering the prestigious Chili Bowl in person.
“There’s really no other event that I can think of that brings in drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, drivers that frequent the dirt midget, USAC Silver Crown, NHRA drivers,” Seelman explained the allure of the Chili Bowl while on The Racing Writer’s Podcast. “This race brings drivers from all walks of life, disciplines, from all across the world. It’s a melting pot that you don’t see anywhere else except maybe sports car racing. That’s a part of the allure for the drivers too. It’s not about the purse, that’s not changed in 10, 15 years.
Personally, Seelman got a taste of motorsports at an early age. His grandparents, Diane and Ray DeWitt once owned a NASCAR team, D-R Racing. Tim Fedewa earned the DeWitt’s their only victory in the 1995 NASCAR Busch Series Meridian Advantage 200 at Nazareth Speedway. Seelman’s grandfather, Bob, briefly raced on pavement in Sprint Cars as well as Super Modifieds in the 1970s and 1980s.
His family connections in racing made him predestined to work in the sport. Although NASCAR takes up much of Seelman’s work, his first love, in part a result of his grandfather’s racing roots, has always been open wheel racing.
When working on storytelling, Seelman has never shied away from impactful stories in the motorsports industry. He brought to life the trials and tribulations of Zack Morgan, Noah “Lefty” Sweet, and others. Writing those stories, Seelman connected with each subject, attaching a sense of personality and personal experience to each article.
Seelman has an innate ability to find stories that are not being told, tales that are flying under the radar. His work ethic brings each of these stories, whether it’s graphic designer Sweet, driver Jesse Love, or team owner Mario Gosselin to a wider audience. Each article spotlighted a driver, an owner, or other individuals that wasn’t being covered by other media. Seelman’s aim is to pass on a little bit of his passion for motorsports to the fans that read his articles.
“Sometimes this business can be a grind, at times frustrating,” Luis Torres of Motorsports Tribune explained. “No matter the highest of highs or the lowest of lows, Jacob perseveres unlike any person I’ve met in the motorsports media industry. At the end of the day, he has a never give up attitude that anyone should strive for because this business isn’t easy.”
Through his work at Speed Sport, as well as Sprint Car & Midget Magazine, Seelman has also been a mentor. He brought Kyle McFadden in to write for both Speed Sport and Sprint Car & Midget. Seelman has also offered advice and mentored his friends include a wide range of motorsports journalists.
Connor Ferguson from Always Race Day, Sarah Handy of Kickin’ the Tires, Noah Lewis and Peter Stratta of TSJ Sports, Austin Konenski from SportsNaut, Matteo Marcheschi of The Podium Finish, and Torres have each gotten advice from Seelman.
“I’m excited to learn more from him in the foreseeable future because while I tend see myself as versatile, Jacob is ahead of the curve and does it so well,” Torres said.
Shortly after Seelman connected with Marcheschi, the veteran motorsports journalist took The Podium Finish writer under his wing. Much like Chris Economaki and David Poole did with others, he worked to help Matteo grow as a journalist.
“He helped connect me with other young motorsports writers and allowed me to grow not only as a journalist, but as a person as well,” Marcheschi explained. “He’s one of the first people I ask about racing, and he’s always willing to share his extensive knowledge with me.
“When I learned Jacob won the 410 Sprint Car Poll Co-Media Member of the Year, I wasn’t surprised. He’s just that good, and his Chili Bowl coverage this year was unmatched. I can’t thank Jacob enough for being a fantastic friend and being so willing to support his fellow motorsports journalists.”
Ferguson was quick to point out that Seelman is attentive to the articles that others write. The Speed Sport writer is quick to help others when there’s typos or other errors in a story.
“I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Jacob,” Ferguson noted. “I’ve had typos in stories that he’s called me within minutes of me publishing to fix it and get it right, and that’s just what he does. He looks out for people. There’s a reason Jacob got the media member of the year award and he shows it in everything he does every single day. I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Much like Ferguson, Konenski looks at Seelman as a mentor and a friend. His friendship with the Speed Sport writer has, over time, made him a better journalist. Seelman’s helping hand extended the confidence for Konenski.
“When I started out writing about NASCAR, Jacob was the first person to truly believe in me and taught me how to become a better writer,” admitted Konenski. “Even when I started to question myself about how good I really was with everything, he continued to help me through all of it. I would not be the writer and person I am today without him.
“Jacob truly gave me the confidence I lacked and taught me lessons that I still make sure I follow today. The only thing that is better than what he has done for me on the writing side of things, is the friendship we have created. He has helped me through hard times and celebrated with me during the great times.”
As a student of motorsports as well as a historian of the sport, Seelman is a great wealth of knowledge. Being a statistician of several series ranging from NASCAR and its’ eSports arm, eNASCAR, to the Bojangles Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the various series competing at Millbridge Speedway, he can give you the stats of several drivers, sometimes without needing his own notes.
“Jacob is a great wealth of more knowledge than I hope to ever know about dirt racing especially, and he is more than deserving of this award with all that he’s given to the sport of auto racing, but especially the dirt discipline,” Stratta explained.
With Seelman’s wide berth in motorsports, the number of contacts that he has is immense. By knowing so many within the industry, combined with his knowledge of the sport, he can often direct someone to who they should be talking to when researching a story. Sometimes the subjects intertwine as drivers from dirt racing dip their feet into NASCAR. Or more recently, 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott attempting his first Chili Bowl.
“As with any subsect of sports journalism, motorsports reporting is much more about who you know than what you know,” Stratta continued. “Jacob was the first true contact and friend I made in this industry. His personality and inquisitive yet inviting demeanor make him an asset to any young writer starting out, as we have maintained a great friendship for over three years now.”
Ultimately, Seelman’s contributions to the world of motorsports extends above and beyond simply his own work, but to those that he has mentored and befriended over the years.
Feature Photo credit: Brendon Bauman, courtesy of Jacob Seelman.