Driver: SEAN MICHAEL
Sean Michael blast on to the Central Pa Sprint Car ranks in 1998 after a successful run in Micro Sprints then URC. Michael picked up wins at Lincoln Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway on his way to winning the 1998 National Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately Michael split with the Harz team before the season was over. But that didn't slow Sean down, After some good runs in the famous Walt Dyer 461, and another URC Championship in 1999, Sean was back in the 410 ranks in 2000 after teaming up with familiar Zemco Speed Equipment #1 mid-season. After a strong finish with the team in 2000, Sean is on the verge of becoming one of the top names in Pennsylvania.
Birthday: July 11, 1966
Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Marital Status: Single
Parents: Al and Peggy Michael
Children: Skye (9)
Occupation: Professional Fire Fighter
Hobbies: Jet-Skiing, spending time with my daughter
Favorite Restaurant: Olive Garden
Favorite Food: Pasta
Favorite Beverage: Diet Coke
Favorite Music: Rock
Favorite Artist: Tool
Started Racing: 1987
Divisions Competed In: Micro Sprints (87-90); Mini Sprints (91-93): Limited Sprints (94); URC Sprints (95-97), 410 Sprints (98), URC Sprints (99-2000); 410 Sprints (2000).
Career Wins: 25 in Sprints (20 with URC)
Championships: 1989 Linda's Speedway; 1989 Tri State Outlaws; 1990 United Mini Sprints; 1992 Central PA Mini Sprints; 1997 and 1999 URC Champion
Awards: 1998 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame 410 Sprint Car Rookie of the Year
Favorite Track: Fonda, New York
Car Owners: John & PeeWee Zemaitis
Motor: Davey Brown Motors
Sponsors: Zemco Speed Equipment, Zemco Headers, Recchione Auto Body, Hoosier Tires
Career Highlight: First 410 Sprint Car win at Williams Grove in 1998
Career Lowlight: Brain contusions in 1991 after a micro crash at Linda's
Favorite Driver: Dale Earnhardt
What do you do so relax? Jet Ski, spend time with my daughter, Skye
Season Outlook: To win races and to run in the top 5 as often as I can
Future Goals: Win races and have fun doing it
If you weren't racing what would you be doing? Working on a car as a crew member.
How long have you been interested in racing, and how did you get started racing yourself?
I have been going to the races since before I can remember! My father has been involved in racing since he was a teenager. My two brothers and I raced quarter midgets, then when my older brother Chris turned 16, he started racing modifieds. In 1987, I decided to start racing again and bought a micro.
What has had the biggest impact on your racing career and why?
No doubt, my parents. They are the ones that took us racing every Friday and Sunday when we were kids and really put themselves out for us.
Where do you see sprint car racing five years from now?
Something is going to have to change. The cost is driving local teams out of business and the car counts are dropping. The World of Outlaws are pretty strong right now with the NASCAR tracks and TV, but they still need the local teams. They may have 20 traveling teams or so but 20 cars do not make a show. The local tracks seem to be following whatever the Outlaws do and I believe they soon need to start doing what is best for the local racing. Also the TV is doing great for the Outlaws but as far as locally, the people are sitting on the couch instead of sitting in the grandstands. The night of the Kenny Weld Memorial race at Lincoln Speedway, Hagerstown Speedway rescheduled a World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series race a couple of weeks before the Weld Memorial was to occur which caused Lincoln to only have 23 cars. My car owner, John Zemaitis wanted to support the local track that runs sprint cars every week and they had their Weld race on the schedule for a couple of years. I know Dave Middleworth felt the same way. That was a bad deal that Lincoln got that night and the local fans. People bash Fred Rahmer for not traveling but the only thing he and Al Hamilton are doing is helping out all of us by staying home. Sure, if he went on the road it would be easier money for all of us but I'm glad he is staying home. Fred puts people in the stands and plus that is another car for the local tracks and that's what we need a higher car count and people in the stands. I realize this question was about sprint car racing and I focused more on local issues but that is what I'm concerned most about. I don't have the answer on where we'll be in five years, but I hope the promoters and the owners make the right decisions and do what is best for the local tracks. We don't need any more malls!
You've driven for some top teams in Pennsylvania Harz, Dyer, etc. How does the Zemco team compare?
All three teams are really good race teams, great people and they spend a lot of money. With the Harz car, I was a rookie driver and we had a rookie crew chief. We struggled some but we had a lot of good runs. Walt's team only ran part time but we were fast every time out. I think if we would have ran more races together, we could have won some races. John and Pee Wee give me great equipment and they are great people to be around. John doesn't pressure me and I think now I feel more comfortable and makes me race better. I started driving for them in June 2000 and we won three races and had a lot of good runs and I know some races got away from us because of bad luck or driver error. WE also made the "A" main at the Knoxville Nationals and we had a good run in it. John and Pee Wee have made some positive changes to the team this coming year and I'm real excited to get racing. I'm real fortunate to have had the opportunity to race for all three teams.
Do you plan on staying in Sprint Cars, or do you have plans of moving to another division?
I'll be in a sprint car until no one wants me anymore. I'm a professional fireman and I won't quit my job. My pension is way to good and I have only 12 years to go until I can retire. If I was younger and wasn't a single father, it would be a different story and I may have taken the chance on trying to make a living racing. I'm very happy with what I am doing and I love sprint cars.
What are you expectations for 2001 in the Zemco #1, and where do you and the team plan on running?
We will be strong in 2001! Tommy Carl is going to be the crew chief. Ryan Hand is the only crew member returning from last year. Tommy is John and Pee Wee's son-in-law; he also runs Zemco Speed Equipment and Headers. Ryan works full time at the race shop and Tommy will be overseeing the whole operation. I'm really looking forward to working with Tommy and the new crew members. I expect to have a real good season. We'll be at the Grove, all the special local shows and the Knoxville Nationals. We won't be racing every Saturday night.
Your brother Curt has landed a top ride in Central Pennsylvania (the Dyer 461). How do you think he will fare in the ride after looking strong at the end of 2000?
Walt is spending a lot of money getting new equipment and Curt is developing into a real good racer. I believe we all need to consider the 461 a tough car this year.
Everyone knows what something needs to be done to cut costs in racing, what do you think would be the most effective way to do this in Sprint Car Racing?
This is the toughest question. Motors, tires and light parts are the biggest expense. You hear about a weight limit on the cars, you also hear people talk about a weight limit on motors, no titanium or a tire rule. But what do you do? Do we want to turn sprint cars into modifieds where we have a rule book two inches think and you spend an hour getting teched after the races? Or you need a different car for every racetrack because the tracks don't all agree on the same rules like the modifieds. At the Knoxville Nationals, the biggest sprint car race in the country, we went through tech in three minutes. The biggest race for modifieds at Syracuse, you spend five hours in a tech line; a hour in tech, then you have to go back and rebuild your car because of all the rules you didn't pass and then get back into line and teched so about a half day later you pass. Not what I want! Or a tire rule and then the tracks can't agree on the same ones and you need to buy a different brand to go to another race somewhere? The tough thing about our sport is money will always win the races! The big dollar owners will always find somewhere to buy speed. URC has a weight rule and that hasn't changed who wins the races. No doubt I think that something has to be done to keep the smaller teams going. Maybe we need to get promoters to up the purse a bit mid pack. I really don't have the answer for this one. Matter of fact, I don't think anyone has the answer and that's why you haven 't seen changes.