Driver Spotlight: Michael Valiante
Driver, No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette
Tell us about your win in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen…
“I knew Richard (Westbrook) would be great on the restart. I knew if he could get into turn one we would be okay. This whole race was just like qualifying laps. Our approach was to just keep the car safe and be in position to podium. We’ve had quick cars and the team has been doing a great job. The racing is really close in this series and we would like to keep this roll going with some more podiums.”
How did you get your start in racing?
“I got started in racing when I was three. My Dad bought me this little mini go-kart, that’s what introduced me to driving. Then I started racing competitively when I was seven in a club from Vancouver, Canada. Basically did it for fun and enjoyed the weekends then got more involved when I got older because I enjoyed it so much.”
When you run both series in a weekend, is there information you get in the CTSC race that helps you in the TUSC race?
“The one thing is you get to see the track more but there’s eventually only so many laps you can do and then you’re familiar with it. I would say it helps more at the start of the weekend. I get to warm-up and see the track before I drive the DP because Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice starts earlier. After that it’s just making sure that I’m well rested, especially for a six hour race. Making sure I don’t get too drained in the Continental race so I’m in good shape for the TUDOR race. The good thing is both cars have water bottles inside of them so I make sure I stay hydrated. It’s more of a challenge time wise when I want to eat something. For example, yesterday at the end of the Continental race I ran in the trailer, changed suits, went out to Tudor practice, then qualified, so when the schedule is back-to-back like that you have to re-focus, drink and eat quickly and head out.
How important is the chemistry between two drivers on a team?
“It’s really important because you’re sharing the car. It’s really a team effort. It’s not like a single-seater where everything is about one driver. Here it’s about making sure both drivers are comfortable with the seat, steering wheel, pedal, so that in addition to making sure both drivers are happy with the handling of the car so it’s important that you get along with your teammate. I was fortunate to drive (at Spirit of Daytona) in 2012 and get to come back. When Richard and I drove together in 2012 we got along really well and the four races that I filled in for (Antonio) Garcia, we were able to get a win in those four races. We’ve stayed in touch ever since and we’re both part of the common wealth, I’m Canadian and he’s English, so we get along well.”
What was your first car?
“The first car that I ever had was a Fiat X1/9, two-door. I drove for quite a while, at least four or five years, so it was quite reliable. I was racing too much to have any road trip stories though.”