- Sunday 10 February, 2013
NORWALK, Ohio – A 2001 bedside vigil took its toll on Carrie Seifert.
Since Carrie’s father owned her heart as her best friend and confidante, she coveted precious moments beside him as he fought ravages of cancer and rounds of treatments.
But then helplessness, a foreign concept to this successful business executive, closed in on her through repetitive hammerings from the inevitable.
“My father had been very ill in the hospital, and had been actively dying,” Carrie said. “I knew another guy who was a big dog with Johnson and Johnson. His wife was critically ill in one hospital. My dad was critically ill in another hospital.
“He said to me, ‘Carrie, why don’t we go for a ride? This guy I know rides out of Vilonia.’ I said, ‘Where is Vilonia?’ He said, ‘I’ll meet you and we’ll ride out there together.’”
Carrie allowed the rumble of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle beneath her and the wind in her face to soothe emotions raw from vain hospital routines and exhaustion.
They pulled into tiny Vilonia, Ark., and stopped at the only stoplight in town.
Meanwhile, Kerry Tate, a bartender and former rodeo cowboy who led a men’s Bible study, ran with a pack.
“A bunch of friends and I used to ride together every Sunday,” Kerry Tate said, adding the group usually numbered 20 to 25 people. “I was leading the ride. I looked up. Here comes this beautiful blonde on her own Fat Boy. I was just kind of taken back. I thought, ‘Wow, this is kind of interesting.’
“Usually new people to the group are shy,” Kerry Tate said. “I go up to them and introduce myself and welcome them to the group.
“She puts her kickstand down. She has this John Wayne walk. She’s kind of confident. I’m there with a rough-looking guy. She walks right up to us. She holds her hand out and says, ‘Hi. I’m Carrie Seifert.’ I said, ‘My name is Kerry Tate. I’ll never forget your name.’”
Carrie remembers a different view of the group.
“We rolled up and there was Kerry and this guy,” Carrie Seifert said. “I thought, ‘He looks like Charles Manson on steroids.’ He had that long hair. He looked so scary.
“I thought, ‘Well, these are a bunch of big hairy boys. I’m going to have to cinch my belt up a notch and go introduce myself,’” Carrie Seifert said.
“We started hanging out as friends,” Kerry Tate said. “I thought she was really neat. For the next six runs she would ride with us and go out for coffee.
“I didn’t want a relationship,” Kerry Tate said. “I just thought we would be really good friends. We started realizing we had a huge attraction for each other and we started dating.”
Carrie Seifert noticed the goings on around them.
“Everywhere we went, women had crushes on Kerry,” Carrie Seifert said. “He looked like a bad boy, but he was sweet. Women would approach him.
“One day we were having coffee and two women walked behind me and spoke,” Carrie said. “Kerry looked over my head as though he had seen a ghost, in disbelief.
“You know how you hear something that’s said, but it doesn’t really register? I thought, ‘What could they have said to him?’ I said, ‘I didn’t get the rhythm of what she said. What was it?’”
“The girl said, ‘You can tell he’s in love,’” Kerry said, “and I am.”
“I said, ‘I am, too,’” Carrie responded.
“Two weeks later, I proposed,” Kerry Tate said. “We married one month later. Both of us had previous marriages and had sworn off relationships.”
“We eloped and got married in Laughlin, Nevada,” Carrie said. “It was on the road. We married in a strip mall, believe it or not. All of our friends thought we were joking, because we’re both very responsible people.”
“That was 11 years ago and it gets better every year,” Kerry said.
“We’ve never had a fight,” said Carrie, explaining very little incites her temper unless someone mistreats an animal, a child, or a handicapped or helpless person.
“I hate bullies,” Carrie Seifert Tate said. “When I was a kid if a bully was picking on a little kid with glasses, I would grab him. I never got suspended, never got in trouble. That’s the only time you can see my temper. I would behave that way if Christ were beside me.
“One of the beauties about Kerry is he’s so innocent in the way he sees the world,” Carrie said. “He sees the world as good. He is always flabbergasted by evil. And he is the man of the house.”
Carrie Seifert Tate’s Harley-Davidson drag racing began on a whim.
“In 2003 we went to an All Harley race in Louisiana,” Carrie said. “I looked at those guys and thought, ‘I could do that.’
“I was on Sugar Bear, my Fat Boy. I wanted to surprise Kerry. I wanted him to see me racing. So I talked one of my girlfriends into going with me. But they announced my name over the loud speaker. He found me and said, ‘What’s going on?’ I said, ‘I’m teching in. I want to race,’” Carrie said. “He said, ‘Cool. Awesome. Let me tell you about the tree.’”
Carrie retired at age 48 from a position as a senior vice president of sales and marketing for a medical firm that provides home infusions.
“I work for Harley-Davidson, now,” Carrie said. “Southern Thunder Harley-Davidson in Southaven, Miss. I live part time in Memphis. Kerry and I live on an 80-acre ranch in Mt. Vernon, Ark. I rescue horses, dogs, mules, donkeys, exotic birds. It’s two very different lives.
“Kerry is a pilot. He will fly his plane over to have a date with me.”
Professionally, Kerry Tate pilots a medical helicopter stationed out of Vilonia, Ark, for Air Evac Life Team.
“We see some of the wild stuff,” Kerry Tate said. “My company’s logo is, ‘We try to be the best thing on the worst day of your life.’”
With rodeo Kerry as her crew chief, in 2011 Carrie Seifert Tate lined up in Super Gas in the All Harley Drag Racing Association. Fifty years old at the time, Carrie’s racing number on the bike was SG50.
“Wink, wink, because this 50-year-old woman was coming here to give these guys a rash,” Carrie said. “Women have better reaction times. I’m leaving these guys at the tree.”
In 2012 she raced in the Nitro Methane Pro Drag class wearing a purple fire suit. Her motorcycle is purple with Mardi Gras flames.
“Because I was raised a lot of my life in Shreveport, Louisiana,” Carrie said. “My dad was a petroleum engineer, so we followed the oil.
“I put my way through college street racing,” Carrie said. “I had a ’79 Formula Firebird. I’m very competitive. I love speed. I love going fast. Kerry and I are very responsible people. For me, this is my wild side. I rarely drink. I’ve never done drugs in my life. But I love speed.”
On October 11, 2011, Carrie attended a Hawaya Racing Nitro Bike School in Rockingham, N.C., on the Web at www.hawayaracing.com.
Under the care and teaching of Johnny and Steve Vickers and Leanne Purvis, Carrie straddled her first Nitro Harley.
“’Just hold it for a count of one-thousand-and-one,’ they told me,” Carrie said. “On the video I’m screaming. It was just crazy. I’m done.”
From the first burst of raw power, Carrie was hooked on Nitro.
Her Hawaya Racing sponsored pro drag motorcycle burns the quarter mile in the low seven second range, and sports a 121 cu. in. Derringer motor.
“Brutus, my bike, is my stallion. He’s my big horse,” Carrie said. “When I met him, I said, ‘Who is this guy?’ I have to name everything.”
As Kerry and Carrie became acquainted with the Harley-Davidson drag racing family in the pits, they also nicknamed her “The Amazon,” due to her height, so Carrie's team is Amazon Racing, on the Web at amazondragracing.com/.
Because they married January 23, 2002, Carrie’s Pro Drag number is PD123.
“That is our lucky number,” Carrie Seifert Tate said. “Kerry is a commercial helicopter pilot, but he’s also a great mechanic, so this is a way for him to express himself.”
With the closing of the All Harley Drag Racing Association at the beginning of the year, Carrie Seifert Tate must decide whether she will travel the 987 miles to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio to compete in the National Hot Rod Association Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series May 17-19, 2013 during the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser, part of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Regardless, Kerry, her bronco busting crew chief, will stand by her side saying, “She’s doing good. I’m proud of her.”
“One of the things about Kerry that I love,” Carrie Seifert Tate said, “is that he said to me, ‘Everyone in your life is trying to put out that fire. I love that fire.’”