Australian Paralympian Colin Sieders is back in a race car for the first time since 2011 in the Aussie Racing Utes at this weekend’s AMRS meeting at The Bend.
The start will be Sieders’ first since the second of two serious car crashes which saw him mostly confined to a wheelchair.
He had already made history as the first disabled driver to race in the Dunlop Super2 Series, after the strength and mobility of his legs was severely and permanently affected by a car accident when he was 15 years old.
While further injuries sustained during the second car accident brought a halt to his motorsport activities, Sieders turned his focus to para-canoe racing, representing Australia in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro and notching up fourth place finishes in his heat and semi-final.
He subsequently came across a doctor prepared to attempt an operation on his injured hip in 2017, and is now able to stand again for brief periods of time.
“His theory was ‘You’re in a wheelchair at the moment, and if the surgery doesn’t work, you’ll still be in a wheelchair,’” recalled Sieders.
“As it turned out, the operation has been successful so far, and I’ve been able to learn how to walk again.”
Furthermore, he is now able to again engage in the family passion of motor racing, in a series established to provide a home for the Commodores and Falcons from the V8 Ute Racing Series.
“My family team still had two V8 Utes, and one of our engineers Glenn Hancox is racing one of them in the Aussie Racing Utes this year,” said Sieders.
“Luke (brother) asked if I wanted to have a go in the other one this weekend, and I couldn’t say no.”
Sieders made a tentative start to practice for this weekend’s round, where the utes will race in a combined field with the BMW Drivers Cup and IROC Challenge.
He found almost 9.6s in lap time from Practice 1 to Practice 2, and went from being over 11 seconds away from the fastest ute driver to just under four.
“The first session, I was like a fish out of water; I didn’t know there were 18 corners on this track, and it’s not an easy one to learn,” remarked Sieders.
“In the second session, I felt a lot more comfortable, and I think we’ll go faster again in qualifying.”
He is hoping that his outing at The Bend Motorsport Park will be the first of many back in a race car.
“I’ll definitely do more Aussie Ute rounds this year with the AMRS, and who knows what else might come up later on? As always, it depends on budget, time away from work and family,” he explained.
“While the hip surgery has worked for me so far, there’s no guarantee it will last for ever, so I’ll have as much fun as I can in the meantime.”