Michael Lewis column: A bright new beginning

Michael Lewis column: A bright new beginning

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Michael Lewis column: A bright new beginning

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Hello everyone, my name is Michael Lewis and I am a professional racecar driver competing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for this 2013 season.

Since 2011 I have been competing in Formula 3 throughout Europe, and before that I also competed in such categories as Formula BMW (U.S./Europe/Asia), Late-model Stock Cars, Ford Focus Midgets, touring cars, karting (Europe/USA), and quarter midgets. For those of you that don’t know me, I literally live everyday of my life for motorsport. All of the training and sacrifice over the years has put me in a position as a race driver where I can compete at the highest level to show my talents.

Honestly, when I was younger, all I wanted to do was drive a racecar. Once I got behind the wheel of a go-kart, making hundreds of laps in a parking lot near my hometown of Laguna Beach, Calif. at the age of 11, nothing else mattered. I’m excited to keep you up to date on my racing periodically here at RACER.com. It’s really an honor to write for them because just the name alone, RACER, embodies who I am and what I live for…so follow along and I hope you don’t get too bored ;)

End of the long winter

From the end of the 2012 Formula 3 Euro Series season to this 2013 season, there were a lot of things happening in my racing and personal life that ultimately led to what I consider a huge step for my career, to be driving in Formula 3 for kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport. I joined kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport literally a week before Round 2 of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend at Silverstone.

It is really a great moment for me in my career to now be associated with such a strong team as kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport. Team boss Peter Mucke has organized a great group of people to produce fast racecars over the years and I am honored to represent his team at the races.

There is definitely a back story to this change, but I must say that it is nothing but a positive one. The winter from November 2012 to the very end of March 2013 was very long and trying for me as a race driver. Due to some political complications with my old team (Prema) I was unable to drive for them in 2013. Prema and I left on a good and professional note, so there is no animosity there; Prema has done good things for my career and I wish them a successful 2013. Anyway, my father ( who is sort of a manager for me) and I found out pretty late into the offseason, around late December that I wouldn’t be back with Prema. In addition to that, there were some pretty intense complications in my personal family life that I had to tend to.

I must say that these past winter months were the most difficult times I had ever faced in my life: 1) I didn’t know if I would race at all this 2013 season and 2) I had to face and deal with all the political nonsense of a family divorce. However, my father and I remained resilient and determined to continue racing in Europe for 2013. So as January-February-March 2013 played out, there were many discussions with high-level teams in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. I must thank every team for their time and desire to have me race for them.

In the end, as things got down to the wire, kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport team and Mercedes-Benz called us and presented a contract that was extremely positive. kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport needed a fast driver to take over its No. 5 car, as that driver had been called up to DTM by Mercedes-Benz. So although unfortunately I was not driving at the first round of the series at Monza, being physically present at the Monza race was extremely beneficial. kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport saw that I was available to drive (as I was in the paddock speaking with potential teams) and they said that I could start immediately with them for Round 2 at Silverstone. This was a sort of dream come true as kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport is a prestigious team.

I must really thank kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport and Mercedes-Benz for this opportunity, and I look forward to being competitive, winning races, and standing on the podium for 2013. This winter has made me stronger than ever as a person, as dealing with all of that adversity has given me valuable tools that I can use for the rest of my life. Every time I get in the car and drive, I enjoy it to the max and I really give my best effort because it’s my passion and what I live for everyday. 

My new team is great fit with how I drive and compete compared to season’s past; I feel right at home in their No. 5 Mercedes-Benz powered Dallara. Team boss Peter Mucke, my mechanics, engineer (Peter Fluckiger), and all of the team are very professional and give their best effort all the time. They want to win just as bad as I do, so we work together extremely well to achieve that goal. After being with kfzteile Mucke Motorsport for a little over a week, I can see that the team is extremely passionate about racing, that each member of the team enjoy working together, and that the desire to win is there.

The Silverstone weekend – my first time back in a top level car since October/November 2012 – was very positive as a whole. It was definitely a good start to the weekend being P3 in Free Practice under the rain. I was P1 for most of the end parts of the session, and it was a great feeling to get back in the car. Qualifying in the dry did not go so well in terms of a result), as the lack of dry seat time hurt me the most. It just took another few laps to get going, but there weren’t “another few laps” to use, really. So I just put in my best effort for what I had in qually, and my engineer and I just looked toward the races to get mileage and develop our working relationship.

All three races were quite flawless in terms of driving: amazing starts, many great overtakes, and good/solid finishes. In Race 1 I started P20 and finished P13. In Race 2 I started P18 and finished P11. In Race 3 I started P13, was running in P11 at the end of the first lap when another driver crashed into the back of my car (sending me off the race track) in the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex. Aside from being crashed out of Race 3 from another driver and the strange qually, my pace and lap-by-lap consistency was quite strong.

With two rounds down, this is my goal for round three: I would like to qualify in the top 10. I feel I can really do an even better result, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Like my engineer always tells me, ‘Just do what the car can give you and don’t invent anything crazy. Just drive and be strong lap by lap.’

Hockenheim is a nice track and I know my kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport guys will give me a great car and their best effort for that event. Realistically, because I missed the first championship’s race weekend, the driver’s championship is not as big of a concern as it normally would be. So I’ll drive as hard as I can to win races, stand on the podium, and help my team in the team’s championship.

Regarding my attitude into this early part of the season, as I said before, it feels so great to be with a strong team such as kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport. After those extremely tough and low moments in my life this past winter, I now enjoy everyday to the max and feel so happy every time I get into the racecar. The racecar is my home, my place to worship speed, and it’s where I am in control of my destiny.. well, most of the time until someone hits you off the track ;)

As far as where I’m staying in Europe, I’m still based in Italy when I’m driving in Europe and I’ll take a quick flight to Berlin whenever I need to go to the kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport shop. I’ll get back to California in the next month when there is a break in the championship. Laguna Beach is my home and it always will be. Whenever I can get back there for a bit of time to train, it is a refreshing time to rebuild and add to my physical and mental strength.

Take care!

Michael

P.S. You can (and should)! visit my website http://www.mjlracing.com for more info. My facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/michaellewisfans, so be sure to follow me there and also on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/michaellewisracing.

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