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Racer 'could have been whatever he wanted'

June 08, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Chad Sisler wasn't home long from his honeymoon before going back to the racetrack.

On Sunday, 15 days after getting married, Sisler went to Summit Point Motorsports Park in Jefferson County, W.Va., to race his motorcycle.

Sisler, 30, was killed when he lost control of his Kawasaki 600 motorcycle during a practice run and hit a bridge abutment, a track spokeswoman said Sunday.

Sisler had been a mechanic for a little more than 10 years at Hoffman Chevrolet in Hagerstown, said his father, Harold Sisler.

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At home in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Chad worked on a car he raced at Mason Dixon Dragway on National Pike, east of Hagerstown. It was a 1998 Camaro SS with 1,000 horsepower, his friend and former co-worker Justin Holder of Sharpsburg said.

Motorcycling racing was a more recent pursuit.

Roger Lyle, whose company, Motorcycle Xcitement, has racing classes and track days at Summit Point, said Chad Sisler went through a class in September 2008.

Lyle said he saw Chad Sisler and his new bride, Shiloh Salopek Sisler, at the track Sunday morning, about an hour before Chad went on the track.

Lyle -- whose fiancée, Joan Erdesky, is an editor at The Herald-Mail -- didn't see the crash, but sat with Shiloh afterward and cried with her.

It appeared that the front and rear tires of Chad Sisler's motorcycle started to come out of alignment, said Sgt. Ron Fletcher of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, which did a report on the crash.

The bike shook, went off the pavement and struck a pile of tires, Fletcher said.

Sisler was thrown from the motorcycle and hit a wall under a bridge, Fletcher said.

Officials from WERA Motorcycle Roadracing of Georgia, which sanctioned the day of racing, couldn't be reached for comment Sunday and Monday.

Chad and Shiloh met at a muscle car show in Ocean City, Md., Harold Sisler said.

Shiloh is a certified welder who does automotive body and fender work, and has a Camaro, he said. They both liked cars and racing.

They were married on May 23. For their honeymoon, the couple went to Las Vegas and Utah.

Holder said the couple watched a World Superbike race in Tooele, Utah. Afterward, they waited for champion racer Ben Spies and got his autograph, Holder said.

Harold Sisler described the connection between Chad and Shiloh as "an unusual kindred spirit love."

Chad Sisler bought a house close to his father's home about four years ago. They did some remodeling together, prompting Chad to wonder if he should be an electrician.

"He could have been whatever he wanted to be," Harold Sisler said.

He said Chad was home-schooled until seventh grade and went to private school in eighth grade. Then, he attended Berkeley Springs High School, graduating in 1996.

Soon after, he became a mechanic. Harold Sisler said Chad and his older brother, Brett, got their certification much more quickly than usual.

The brothers worked together at Hoffman Chevrolet for about three years.

Harold Sisler said Chad, who also enjoyed shooting guns at a range, was aggressive and competitive, but had a softer side.

Holder called his friend "a laid-back, easygoing guy."

"You could never get a rise out of him" he said.

"He seemed to be a quiet, happy person," Lyle said.

"He was just a good boy" who never gave his father problems, said Chad's grandmother, Juanita Sisler.

It's hard to think that two weeks after Chad was married at the former YMCA on West King Street in Martinsburg, his funeral will be held practically across the street, she said.

Harold Sisler said he had a third son who died as a boy; he's grateful to have one son left.

-- Staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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