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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Mike Hedlund

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring Mike Hedlund…

Photo: Flying Lizard Motorsports

Mike Hedlund took the Pirelli World Challenge GTSA class win in the final race of the season at Watkins Glen this past weekend.

This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, the PWC veteran looks back on the highs and lows of his season, details how he strikes a balance between racing and work life, and more.

How would you assess your season as a whole?

“I’m not sure if Pirelli World Challenge tracks how many overtakes there were in any given race, but if they do, I’d love to see the number.

“I bet we’re near the top after starting so many races at the back of the field and making our way to the podium.

“That definitely made the races more exciting, maybe at the expense for my pocket book to cover the repairs and making some of my fellow competitors mad at me with my aggressive driving!

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you’ll always have ups and downs throughout the year. However, this season has been the toughest I’ve ever experienced.

“At times it felt like everything outside of our Flying Lizard team bubble was conspiring to keep us out of contention.

“Obviously that wasn’t the case, but when you’re in the trenches of the season it sure seems that way!

“Excluding the actual results, I’m proud of what I’ve done this year and how the team performed.

“I feel like I’m driving the best I ever have and we as a team delivered on everything we could that was in our control every single weekend.

“That’s pretty much all you can ever do and the results will be what they are.”

How does the Audi R8 LMS GT4 that you drove this year compare to previous cars you have raced in PWC?

“The Audi R8 LMS GT4 is an awesome race car. I didn’t have much GT4 experience before the season started.

“My only time in one had been in the 2017 25 Hours of Thunderhill driving the Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman.

“We ran that event on street tires so it didn’t translate exactly to the Pirelli P-Zero slick tires we use in PWC.

“The GT3 cars I raced previously in PWC definitely have more power and more downforce, but I’d say the biggest difference is really the electronics.

“The GT3 cars have full race ABS and Traction Control systems were as most of the GT4 cars have systems based on the street car version.

“That reduces their adjustability and effectiveness, but keeps it much simpler to operate and for the manufacturers to support.

“For example, the GT3 cars have dials to adjust ABS and TC in 1-12 increments and the GT4 car has two ABS settings and three TC settings (if you include “off”).

What are the challenges you face balancing your day job with your passion for motorsports?

“I’m lucky that I work with some really good people that I’ve known for a long time. They know how much I love racing and they’re able to pickup the slack for me when I’m gone.

“The hardest part is switching focus between the two on a race weekend when something important comes up with my normal job.

“After doing this for the last six or seven seasons I think I’ve gotten pretty good at multi-tasking without effecting one or the other too much!

“Once the helmet goes on, everything else out in the world gets put on pause.”

Can you shed any light on your racing plans for 2019?

“No plans for 2019 at the moment. The budgets to keep going in GT3 or GT4 are getting too high for me to maintain and the lack-luster results this year surely didn’t help my prospects.

“Being based in California makes it hard to race in Europe, even though it is more cost effective.

“I’ve thought about doing more racing in Asia after having so much fun doing the WEC race at Fuji, Japan last year, but with my brewery coming online shortly I doubt I’ll be able to spend the time AND money to do it.

“I am testing a NASCAR Xfinity [Series]-spec stock car in Phoenix next month, so maybe I’ll go down that route for 2019 to try something new.”

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