Seth “Big Poppa” Hyatt is in this week’s DragChamp Racer Spotlight. Learn all about this DragChamp Pro Member in his spotlight below!
BREAUX BRIDGE, LA- Seth “Big Poppa” Hyatt has been racing on and off for the better part of 15 years. Growing up, his Dad had a Camaro that they used to work on and play around with. When Seth was 9 or 10 years old, his Dad took him to State Capitol Raceway to see their good friend, Moss Begnaud race his 1969 Camaro. Seth remembers getting so pumped up for the burnouts and he loved watching the cars launch off the line. From that moment, he was hooked and hungry to learn how to race.
They had an old barn, which has now Seth’s shop known as the “Potato Shed” and in the loft his Dad and his buddies had a boxes of old Car Craft, Popular Hot Radding, and Hot Rod Magazines. Seth would go up their regularly and bring a few down to stash in his bedroom to read before bed (This was all before the internet!).
Seth primarily runs in MOD, Bottom Bulb, or Footbrake classes. He will at times Footbrake in the Top Bulb class also and he has dabbled around with running Super Pro with a delay box in his dragster. Seth said, “the delay box racing is fun, but I’m a Footbrake racer at heart”. Occasionally, he will do some index racing as well.
Normally, they run the local events at State Capitol Raceway, No Problem Raceway, and they also enjoy running the King of the Coast series in Gulfport. He said, “the Rolisons put on a great series there, and as many know the best racers in the South run there. It’s a really tough series to win at”.
As far as his racing career, Seth started out playing in the Street class with his daily driver and as time passed and budget allowed, that turned into doing some local bracket racing in his Dad’s 1971 Camaro. At a Super Chevy event back in 2010, he was able to make a perfect pass in that car. Fast forward a bit, he has purchased the car he now has called, “Twankie” and is having a blast with it. Recently, he has done some racing but has been focused on his two boys and their Junior Dragster racing.
His current ride otherwise know as “Twankie” is a 1969 Nova Yenko Tribute. Back in 2012, he has a good friend, Chad Brown help pick up the car at the Indiana/ Ohio state line. It was clean with a small block in it and it was street legal. Since then, he has slowly upgraded and raced the car along with driving it a bunch. Back then, the small block ran mid to low 10’s on motor and went 8.9X’s on the bottle.
The car now has a pump gas friendly big block in it with a power glide. It has a Moser 9″ with 4.30 gear, and Street ET 315/60 tires. It is a back half 4-link set up and weighs 3,400 pounds. The car normally runs mid 10’s to the quarter-mile and mid 6’s in the eighth. Seth said, “it’s normally a good car, we take it to cruises and dinners a bunch, in fact my better half, Keisha enjoys the car possibly more than I do”.
- SCR Friday Series Track Championship
- IHRA Summit Sportsman Spectacular Event Winner
- 2 IHRA Ironmen
- KOC Event Winner
- Many semi-final round appearances, and runner-ups
- Won a Championship as a Crew Chief
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
As silly as it may sound, I would like to put together a Team for the Dream Team Race compiled of my friends, and would also like to race in the OG Million. I haven’t had a chance to do either. I would like to win one of those Wally guys as well.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
My favorite race car is the 71 Camaro that my dad owns. The reason being is since I was knee high to a grasshopper I remember seeing that car in the shop and thinking to myself one day I would be a race car driver and that would be my race car. When I got a little older my dad kind of got away from racing and the car sat for a while. After reading those ole hot rod magazines from the loft of our old barn, I would nag my ole man to start rebuilding the car.
The answer never changed, it was a consistent “No” until one day I started trying to work on the car along with my younger brother Logan, and an ole racing buddy of my dad’s seen this and offered to help me and my brother pull the motor out of it and take it apart. After that my dad, myself and my younger brother worked on the car in that ole barn on weekends sometimes $20 dollars at a time. I cut my teeth on and in that car. Won my first race with it, made a probably once in a life time perfect pass in it, and more importantly learned a ton on and off the track with that thing. It’s sort of sentimental to me.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
Honestly, I think my boys have. Teaching them, and watching them grow as racers is amazing. It takes you back to the basics and the fundamentals of the sport. Obviously without a strong foundation and understanding of the basics you cannot begin to try and get fancy. Other than that I would have to say that most of my fellow racers have an impact also, having great conversations and discussions about technical stuff or driving styles and strategies help on a constant basis.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
Mostly the person that I look up to the most is the person that taught me how to read a time slip and showed me some things when I was younger. I learned so much from watching Moss Begnaud, no matter if it was good or bad. Also I mean my good friend Chaz Robicheaux (Ben Dover) he has shared just a tad of his knowledge with me. I now know how to eat a donut properly.
All joking aside there are many racers that I look up to. Jay Landry, Cool Simoneaux, Larry Seguin, Robbie Mullins just to name a few.
Tell us what you do for a living?
Work in the Oil and Gas Industry as a Subsea Controls Engineer. The company I work for sends us on jobs offshore for all sorts of operators. Chevron, BP and Shell to name a few.
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
Most of the racing is funded from my own pocket, I have a really good group of friends that are always ready to lend any help, which that in itself is priceless. Other than that we may get discounts on certain things here and there, as far as hustles go with my work schedule being so sporadic it’s hard for me to get anything else going. We try to race on a budget.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
Truly, I don’t hate seeing anyone in the other lane. There has to be a winner and a loser of each round. When up there, I’m just happy to be racing and hopefully I mess up less than the guy in the other lane and get the W!
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
The hardest part for me at times is trying to get everything ready, and loaded. Between myself and both the boys racing we have lots of maintenance and upkeep. Some from the outside looking in see all the fun at the track, and in the winner’s circle. People that don’t necessarily do this sometimes miss the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes on the cars, rig and support equipment. Heck, sometimes I miss stuff or forget something and it shows…lol
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
Well recently a good friend of mine let me race his prized race truck. During first round of eliminations, sometime between me launching the truck and the front tires landing something in the steering broke. The truck continued on straight for a moment before it started to make a move. After trying to make a correction I realized that something was wrong, moments later the truck was in the wall with me trying to bring it to a stop. I was fine, the damage to truck could have been way worse, but my pride was hurt that I damaged some else’s pride and joy.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
I normally take a deep breath and play back through my head what my better half Keisha once said to me. “You’d be a pretty good racer if you didn’t red light!” So after that I reinforce that with a thought of don’t kick it red!
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
I enjoy the comradery with fellow racers and friends. Also enjoy clowning and laughing over a few cold drinks, and maybe some good food.
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
The only things that I believe in is always wishing my opponent luck, whether it be a hand shake or a thumbs up. The other thing is if we are later in rounds and Keisha tries to kiss me good luck and she hasn’t in the earlier rounds, she ain’t getting no sugar!
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
No one want’s to lose but if I do lose, you will rarely see me upset. Because with that loss a lesson was learned and noted. Regroup and try again another time. But I do love winning.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
I would have to say that I better at the finish line, but occasionally I will jack that up!
What motivates you to continue racing?
Racing is one of those things, you will never be the best and you will never stop learning. That in itself makes me strive to be better than I was yesterday.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
If money were no object, I would absolutely love to race Pro Stock, of course it would be pretty awesome to just have a nice trailer with living quarters and be competitive in the Stock or Super Stock ranks. I’ve always been amazed and intrigued by what those guys can do with this combos.
How often do you use a practice tree?
Normally 4-5 times a month. Definitely could put more effort into using it more often to home the skills.
What is your daily driver?
2009 RAM 3500, nothing fancy.
Favorite movie or TV show?
Favorite movie would be a hard pick. It would be between Tombstone and Life.
Favorite music, artist?
This is another tuff pick. I listen to such an array of things, really enjoy Blues, Metal, and Rap. Favorite Band would have to be Slipknot, Blues would have to be Stevie Ray Vaughn and Rap would be the Notorious BIG.
Where do you spend the most time on the internet?
Weather Channel, Yellow Bullet, Facebook.
What is your favorite sport? Favorite team?
Used to watch a bunch of College football, that’s slacked off in the recent years. I will have to say LSU. Geaux Tigahs!
Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?
Work a bunch, cut a lot of grass as I maintain my moms, and grandmothers’ lawns. Work my tractor, or spend time in the Potato Shed.
What are you really good at?
Not really sure I am really good at any one thing. If I am maybe I haven’t found it yet.
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have a huge passion for cooking. I wanted to be a chef at one point. It brings me joy to cook and watch people enjoy it.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
On occasion I like a quiet evening at home but those are pretty few and far in between. All of our kids are active in different things so we are always on the go. I have a friend that tells me all the time, I see you work hard and play hard. It’s true I like to be surrounded by my people and that normally entails a group.
What’s your favorite thing to eat? Individual item, meal, or restaurant?
My favorite is Pizza. Pretty much any kind, even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
This is a tough one because there are so many people that help me out. Big to little help is help and some people may never know what that is like. First and foremost the Lord for granting us the opportunity to have a life to live, secondly Keisha and my kids Laurie, Ayden, Gracie, and Charlie they all play part in helping, from packing to shopping helping with laundry, or unloading race cars.
So many friends and if I don’t mention them here, it’s not because I don’t appreciate them. David Ludwig of Air Art Customs, Earl Shexnayder of Shexnayder Racing for last minute help on engines, trans, and tuning. He’s been good to my operation and has stopped what he was doing to get me back up and going. Same with Jeff Jordan of JJ’s Performance the man has not only helped me but let me drive his truck more than once.
Cornell Stelly and crew over at Rees Street Lube, Jay Landry, Larry Seguin, Robby Mullins, Chad and Kelly Laughlin, are some pretty good guys have done me some solids at one time or another. Last but not least Lance Huval, Chaz Robicheaux, Triston and Dalcour Miller, Tboy Johnson, Scott Manuel and the DOP Team. These people along with others are what make this crazy sport we love go around full circle.
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About the Author: Payton Pillinger is a 23-year-old bracket racer living in Nashville, TN. She races a S10 truck in Pro at local tracks around her home. She graduated from the University of Tampa with her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Advertising in 2020. Payton is also the owner and creator of the female motorsports association, Chicks on Slicks.