ARCA driver Michael Lira talks with our Dylan Goodin.
Michael Lira is a 17 year old ARCA Racing Series driver for Kimmel Racing.
Q: So what exactly got you into racing, and how did you get to where you are now?
Michael Lira: "I was first inspired to race by my father, who I grew up watching race sports cars. He raced in SCCA around Florida and the southeast, eventually working his way up to Grand-Am, now known as IMSA.
"I also grew up watching NASCAR, I was a huge Jeff Gordon fan, had the power wheels car and everything, couldn't drive it without the suit and helmet.
"I started in quarter midgets at 9 years old, basically a go kart with a roll cage and coil-over suspension.
"After working my way through the classes of quarter midgets, I got my first ever full-sized racecar, a pro-truck.
"After doing the central Florida sweep and winning the championships at both Orlando Speedworld and New Smyrna Speedway I made the step up to a super late model.
"In January of 2013, I made my super late model debut in the Redeye 100 at New Speedway and finished 2nd, and that brings us to the present in the ARCA Racing Series where I drive for Kimmel Racing."
Q: So explain your current position with the team you race for.
ML: "Well, I kind of have two teams; Lira Motorsports, here in Florida for my late models, and Kimmel Racing, who fields my ARCA cars.
Michael Lira turns laps at Daytona International Speedway.
"At Lira Motorsports, I try to get in the shop and work on my cars whenever I have time, even if I just go in there and ask questions about things, I'm always learning in there. Especially this summer, without school I've been able to work full days in the shop, which really earns the respect of my crew and teaches me a lot about the mechanics of a racecar.
"I love working with Kimmel Racing. Bill Kimmel, team owner and crew chief, is wealth of knowledge. Frank Kimmel won most of his championships with Bill before he moved on to Toyota, so Bill has years of experience and wins under his belt.
"My teammate Will Kimmel, Bill's son is a huge help as well.
"He's racing all the big tracks that I can't race on the schedule, but when he's not driving he is a great driving coach for me since he's driven these cars at all these tracks before."
Q: So you had a strong qualifying run at Pocono, is that a strength of yours?
ML: "I don't honestly know what got into me at Pocono. I've never been a strong qualifier but every once in awhile I can set down a quick lap.
"Normally I'm strongest at saving my equipment for the end of a race and I often make my passes when everyone's tires are worn out and we're all sliding all over the place."
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a racecar driver?
ML: "It's an absolute thrill to drive a racecar, especially one as powerful as an ARCA car.
"My favorite thing is getting the opportunity to drive on all these unique racetracks I have been very fortunate to visit.
"From the 1/4 mile bullring of Elko Speedway to the 2 1/2 mile legendary Daytona International Speedway to the twisting road course of New Jersey Motorsports Park, I have gotten to race at many different tracks."
Q: So who is Michael Lira away from the race track?
ML: "Away from the track, I'm just a normal high schooler.
"I go to a public school and have homework just like everyone else.
"I'm also in the band at my school, I play the trombone."
Q: So what do you think the future holds for you and your racing career?
ML: "In the future I would eventually want to make it to the Sprint Cup Series and contend for wins and championships.
"But I have plenty of time, I believe in working your way up the ranks the right way, not rushing it.
"I don't want to make the next step to Trucks or Nationwide until I'm contending for top-five's and wins in ARCA."