Australia Paralympic athlete Colin Sieders will quench his never-ending thirst for competitive, high-adrenaline action when he competes in Round 2 of the Aussie Racing Utes, held as part of this weekend’s AMRS race meeting at The Bend Motorsport Park.
The event will mark Sieders’ first involvement in motor-racing since 2011, when the second of two serious car crashes saw him mostly confined to a wheelchair.
Coming from a motorsport family, Sieders has always had a passion for racing. Even after the strength and mobility of his legs was severely and permanently affected by a car accident when he was 15 years old, Sieders pursued his motor-racing ambitions, winning races in Aussie Racing Cars and also scoring competitive results in Formula Ford, Lotus Series and the Dunlop Super2 Series, where he became the first disabled driver in the category’s history.
While further injuries sustained during the second car accident brought a halt to his motorsport activities, a determined 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.
A lesser person might have resigned themselves to wheelchair confinement, but Sieders did not want to accept his fate without a fight, and in 2017 he came across a doctor prepared to attempt an operation on his injured hip.
“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,’” Sieders recalled.
“As it turned out, the operation has been successful so far, and I’ve been able to learn how to walk again.”
The positive result of the operation has also meant Sieders is once again able to fulfil his ever-present desire for the adrenaline rush of high-speed motorsport competition.
“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 – it’s a category that’s been set up to give the old V8 Utes a place to race,” Sieders said.
“Luke (brother) asked if I wanted to have a go in the other one this weekend, and I couldn’t say no.”
Even after nine years out of a race car, the results of today’s practice sessions show Sieders has lost none of the ability that enabled him to achieve race victories at a national level – after dialling himself in during the first practice session, he improved his lap times by more than nine sessions in the second session, pushing into the top five.
“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!” Sieders said.
“In the second session, I felt a lot more comfortable, and I think we’ll go faster again in qualifying.”
Sieders is hoping the return to motor-racing will be a long-term one.
“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 said.
“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.”