By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Motorsports has its share of stories, especially when it unites two different families coast-to-coast during difficult time periods and raising awareness for autism.
For one weekend at Auto Club Speedway, that was the case for the Lombard family from Simi Valley, California and Ryan Sieg Racing from Georgia.
The two families partnered up, as Sieg’s No. 39 Chevrolet Camaro had Lombard Bros. Gaming, a three-year-old gaming company owned by brothers Joseph and Zachary aka “N2SC4R” and “MAGNUM05” on YouTube, became his primary sponsor in the Roseanne 300 on March 17th.
Sieg, who ran mid-pack all day, managed to lead one lap in the 150-lap contest. However, there was a reason behind the outcome.
While many drivers made their final stop for fresh tires, the No. 39 team ran out of new tires and crew chief Kevin “Cowboy” Starland made the call for fuel only, leveraging Sieg on top of the leaderboard.
It marked the first time since Talladega last May that Sieg led an Xfinity Series race, but as many would’ve expected, it was short lived.
On the final restart on Lap 143, Team Penske’s Joey Logano and several other top-tier teams passed Sieg. Logano went on to win the race, while Sieg wound up in 20th, a season-high for the Tucker, Georgia native.
Their performance at Fontana was another example of Sieg’s slow start, but it’s not much about his day at the two-mile circuit, it’s about the journey behind the sponsorship Sieg carried and the impact it had on both families.
Lombard Bros. Gaming Business Manager Joyce Lombard aka “LBG Boss Lady,” Joseph and Zachary’s mother, said the deal with Ryan Sieg Racing came about after a friend of Joseph’s told him about Sieg needing a primary sponsor at Fontana, less than 90 minutes from Simi Valley.
Joyce said the thought of his sons company sponsoring a NASCAR vehicle left the family speechless. Joseph took the opportunity of striking a deal to have the gaming company on Sieg’s car.
“That in and of itself was enough that could have rendered us speechless,” said Joyce. “Joseph then reached out to Cody Higginbotham (Sieg’s Marketing Coordinator), and everything just seemed to fall into place. They are such an easy team to work with and we could not have asked for a more amazing experience than we had with the entire Ryan Sieg Racing team.”
Sieg’s team then contacted the Lombard’s about having Lombard Bros. Gaming on their car, which they’ve agreed. From there, the Lombard’s found out they’ve shared a lot of things in common with Sieg’s family, notably the past year as family tragedy struck for both last year.
On July 29th, the driving force behind Lombard Bros. Gaming, Christopher Lombard, Joseph and Zachary’s father, was killed by an oncoming vehicle while assisting a victim of a rollover crash.
Three weeks later, Ryan’s brother and former NASCAR veteran, Shane Sieg, 34, passed away. Ryan honored his brother at Darlington Raceway September 2nd, driving a red and black car inspired by Shane’s late model car which he won at Huntsville Speedway in the NASCAR Southeast Series in 2003.
“When we found that out we just knew two grieving family were brought together for a purpose, without ever meeting one another,” Joyce added.
Christopher and Joseph have gone to Auto Club Speedway each year and that weekend in March marked the first time his father wouldn’t be there.
When Joseph and Zachary arrived together at Fontana on race day, they weren’t expecting his father’s name plastered on the right-side roll bar of Sieg’s No. 39 Chevrolet.
“We cannot thank Ryan Sieg Racing for adding their dad’s name to the car. The Lombard family cannot express their sincere gratitude for that,” said Joyce. “His name wasn’t on the car when Joseph saw it on Friday for the practice and qualifying, yet it was on there Saturday when both Joseph and Zachary could be there to see it for the first time.”
At a young age, Joseph became a NASCAR fan and his favorite was Jeff Gordon. It was his love for the sport that made the rest of the family racing fans today. Christopher’s favorite driver was Landon Cassill while Joyce’s favorite is Kyle Busch.
“Christopher said anyone who could do triathlons and model in GQ deserved respect. I am a Kyle Busch fan because I love the foundation Kyle and Samantha (Kyle’s wife) have,” Joyce added. “We spend our weekend watching Truck, Xfinity, and especially the cup races on Sunday. We actually used NASCAR to teach the boys percentages using diecasts. Joseph would make pit road on the floor with tape and change the positions as the drivers changed positions. Great way to teach autistic children math, if you ask me. NASCAR comes into play in just about everything we do.”
Known as “Lombard Dad,” it was Christopher who came up with the message of Lombard Bros. Gaming after pitching to Joseph about selling t-shirts and seeing Joseph and Zachary interacting with their younger fanbase, especially those with autism which both are high functioning on the Autism Spectrum.
“While Joseph has been gaming online for a few years, Lombard Bros. Gaming came about when their dad said, “Why don’t we try to sell a couple of t-shirts?” Well, the rest, as they say, is history,” said Joyce. “We began the Fan Participation live streams after the parents of a young fan, Jacob Wilhelm, contacted us to see if they could order a t-shirt for their son’s birthday. Jacob is on the Autism Spectrum as well.
“Then came a young fan by the name of Alejandro Hernandez, who is also on the Autism Spectrum. It is such a joy to see photos of Alejandro participating in the Special Olympics with our Lombard Bros. Gaming sticker on his t-shirt. That’s all Lombard Dad needed to hear and responded with,
“We should have a business where people of all ages and skill levels can have a place to game without foul language and most of all bullying. A place where people like little Jacob won’t be kicked from a game because they don’t have the skills a Championship/League gamer has. A place where someone won’t be kicked from a game because they lack skills and a place where young gamers have a place to improve their gaming skills.”
The Lombard family has given back to the community for many years, including participating in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks for over 14 years.
Both brothers, Christopher, and sister, Christie, have participated in different areas in the Southern California area and in Tempe, Arizona.
Bobby Lombard, Joseph and Zachary’s older brother, also began his team in Atlanta last year as their annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks set to take place April 29th.
Christopher has been an instrumental part of bringing playground balls to his work each Christmas, donating them to children’s charities.
Joyce added that Lombard Bros. Gaming’s future goals will carry Christopher’s legacy for many years to come.
“We want to keep growing, keep providing a safe gaming place for young gamers, especially special needs gamers, and to begin a foundation in honor of Lombard Dad,” said Joyce. “He was a great inspiration, not only to the entire Lombard family but to anyone who knew him.
His goal in life was to make us laugh at least once a day. He certainly succeeded in that area. We want to continue the charities we have been honored to be a part of for many years and we hope to continue watching it grow.”