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Racers in Isolation: Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is the latest driver up in the Racers in Isolation series…

Photo: Michael Lewis

Sportscar365 is contacting drivers from around the world to ask what they’re doing during the coronavirus pandemic and how they’re coping with the racing downtime.

Michelin Pilot Challenge Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR driver Michael Lewis (Twitter/Instagram) is the latest driver up.

Where are you sitting out the COVID-19 crisis? 

First, I hope that everyone in the racing community and everyone, in general, are doing ok and are safe during this time. This pandemic is affecting many people and I just hope everyone from the crew members, officials, and sponsors to owners, drivers, and fans are all ok.

From my side, I am totally ok and healthy which is the most important thing.

I’m in Irvine, Calif. with my girlfriend and our roommate. We have a pretty good system of staying home as much as we can and even cooking meals for each other! My girlfriend and our roommate are the good cooks!

What’s the one thing you currently can’t have that you miss the most, other than racing?

Other than racing, I miss being able to physically train in the way I used to train. We all have to make adjustments, so it’s ok. But, it was so nice to have a routine of gym work and outdoor exercising very easily and in the way you wanted.

But, that’s no excuse to stop training!

You have to be creative and when my teammates and I were in Indianapolis for the Hyundai Driver Camp, we learned so many exercises from the pros at PitFit that we can all keep fit during this time.

You just have to put in the work!

What are you doing to maintain your fitness level?

Currently, I am running and doing pushups. I do things you can do with your bodyweight and anywhere with no equipment.

When driving on track in our Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR, it gets really hot inside the car. To help us keep fit and endure the intense heat inside the car, we focus on really being good with cardio.

It’s so we can keep focused and sharp while battling for the win in the closing laps of a long and a hot race!

Do you do sim racing?

I am on the sim bandwagon like many of the drivers!

I love driving Winged Sprint Cars on iRacing. The graphics on iRacing are so real that it’s like you’re there in real life.

Our Bryan Herta Autosport engineers are even getting involved and Justin Jang, who is an engineer on our team, did the engineering on Mason Filippi’s car and on my car in the IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday iRacing event two weeks ago.

We were on the radio via Discord like in real life!

For the hardware side of things, the sim rig I use consists of parts that I’ve had in my dad’s home for a long time. I built it cheap! That’s the thing, you don’t need a crazy rig to get going.

My inspiration is Timmy Hill. He wins many races online with just a steering wheel mounted to his desk! In particular, the chassis I’m using is from when my dad and his friend built me a setup to drive on Playstation 2 when I was like 10.

I just took that rig and had my friend lengthen it and modify it to fit some PC parts and screens.

Then, I bought a Logitech G29 wheel and pedal set and put our championship-winning No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR seat insert within the seat and, boom, racing (seat insert pictured below).

Thank you, Mark Wilkins for the championship run!

What was your first car? 

A big, 2003 Expedition SUV that my mom let me drive. I was pretty small when I was 16 and people would stare at me in this huge car.

If you could be the President of IMSA for a day, what would you change?

Nothing. I would look to my team around me to keep up the same intensity to be on the leading edge of things. IMSA has been really leaning forward with their ideas, and it is really cool to see how many manufacturers like Hyundai are in the series.

It’s awesome to have so many different types of cars so that people can root for their favorite one. Also, IMSA was right there with IndyCar to start broadcasting iRacing races with drivers from their series.

Now, everyone is doing it. They are continually thinking, and I love that.

Who has been your biggest inspiration in the sport?

There have been so many people who have inspired me, that I cannot pick one.

What I can say is that I look up to those and I draw inspiration from those who give their time up to help and mentor people even though they didn’t have to do it.

I also am inspired by people who give all of their heart into something and when they see you have the dedication, talent, and or ability to do something, they really believe in you and trust you to do that thing!

People like my dad, Mike Manning, Dino Chiesa, John Ward, Bob Faieta, Stefan Pfeiffer, Fabio Zilio, the Gerhardt family, Sebastien Constans, Mark Wilkins, Bryan Herta and so many people along my career are those who give you confidence because they are confident in you and believe in you.

I am inspired by those people who give everything they have and that also trust other people to help get the job done well. It takes a team to succeed!

What’s the one thing you are most looking forward to the first day you return to a race track?

The smell of race fuel, hot rubber, and feeling the aches and pains after driving a long time on track. I love that. I love racing with our Bryan Herta Autosport team and co-driving with Mason Filippi.

Mason is so quick and a really good guy. Thank you to everyone who reads this for your time.

We hope to see you at the races, and if not, join us on some iRacing races!

Photo: Michael Lewis

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