As a young boy, Michael Consales lived so close to a racecar shop that he could hear the revving sounds of the engine whenever a car started. Michael would run back and hang out at the shop, helping out, washing the cars and absorbing all that he could about racecars. Thus began Michael’s love affair with racecar driving, and it’s a love that still continues to this day.
Speaking passionately, Michael says the one thing most people don’t understand about the sport is that racing is a lifestyle. “When you get involved with racing, it gets in your blood. You either hate it or you’re in love with it and it’s a bittersweet relationship.” The sport definitely comes fully loaded with its joys and challenges as Michael can attest to.
On the plus side are the highs that one experiences while going round the track at 100MPH. Michael likens driving to an addiction saying, “It is the biggest adrenaline rush that I could fathom with the exception of flying a fighter jet.” It’s this rush that has kept Michael hooked on racecar driving since 2008.
But like most addictions, this one is expensive. Michael races on the local level, which means he needs to keep a day job in order to support his habit. Paying entrance fees, purchasing parts, maintaining the car, and covering gas gets to be quite costly. Michael supplements these costs by securing sponsors – a task that’s become more difficult since the recession hit. But Michael is creative, adding value by selling advertising space on the car, making personal appearances, and autographing pictures as an incentive.
One of the bonuses that racing on the local level brings is an intimacy between the drivers and their fans. Unlike in a Nascar competition, for instance, at the end of the night, the fans can go right up to the drivers and have a conversation with them. “It gives them a chance to get up close and personal with the drivers to see the cars and really what we do for quote unquote fun.”
With the fun comes great personal risk. Michael suffered a serious injury last June that wrecked his car and put him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. When I asked Michael how he negotiates this risk, he equates it to a kid falling off his bicycle for the first time who doesn’t have any fear until he falls. Michael’s relationship to the sport has changed since his accident, “you have a little more respect for it after you’ve left the track in an ambulance”, but he remains devoted and hypothesizes, “Maybe if I got some more seat time in the car, it would make me a better race car driver. “