Michael McCann Jr. is following in the footsteps of his racing father and has proved to be a quick learner. Still in his first season of racing, McCann swept the TC America races at Watkins Glen International, all while making his debut in Pirelli GT4 America.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, McCann talks about growing up in a racing family, putting his career on hold to chase a dream, and more.
How special was it to get your first overall wins in the TCR class over the weekend?
“It felt really great. Long story short to the weekend, the first practice we were really fast and showed a lot of pace.
“The second practice session, I go out trying to warm the tires up and I end up locking my brakes up and going off track and into a tire barriers.
“Talk about the ups and downs of being so fast and then not being able to participate in the second session! The guys had to rip the car apart and build it back up like new.
“Truly, if the guys wouldn’t have busted their tails for hours and hours on end Friday I wouldn’t have been able to qualify Saturday morning. It feels great. It’s truly a team effort. I owe it to them.”
What is your racing background prior to this year?
“I did a lot of baseball growiing up, so not really any racing. Most of the time, if I had a free weekend, we would go four-wheeling with my family and friends. I always had a knack for speed.
“But growing up around the paddock and watching my dad do it, when he came back to racing in 2015 or 2016, when he came back he and the mechanics would rent out tracks to go test and work on their car and I would take out a street car and drive around the track.
“Once I started following other people who knew what they were doing, I started to make moves on them. At that point my dad started noticing that maybe he’s not actually half bad!
“Then I did my Skip Barber Racing School and that was an absolute blast. I always had a knack for speed, but most of my training was off road stuff like side-by-side ATVs, nothing on track.”
Was racing always something you were interested in?
“Growing up in the paddock, I was always just waiting to be 16 so I could have my license. I couldn’t wait until my first time on the track.
:I graduated college in December and I was going to be a full-time IT worker for a company in Columbus, and it was only a couple of days before I was going to start working and my dad came to me and said: we always had a mutual agreement that if you keep you nose clean, stay out of trouble, get good grades, and one day we’ll go racing if the opportunity presents itself.
“He saw the opportunity of me going away from the family and realized that we may never get this chance again if I start working in the corporate world, so he bit the bullet and said: if you want to go racing now, let’s do it. I had been dying for that moment for the last 20 years of my life!”
What was the step to GT4 at Watkins Glen like?
“It couldn’t have been more difficult because the two cars are similar in pace, but the way you drive them is completely different.
“You’ve got a front-engined, front-wheel drive car, then you’ve got a mid-engined car with a lot of torque and power with the rear-wheel drive. They’re two completely different machines to drive.
“The lines and the pace of the car itself is similar, but the steering input and when to roll onto the throttle and when to brake, one has ABS and one doesn’t, it’s a crazy difference in cars but they’re both so fun to drive.”
Is the plan to continue with the dual GT4 and TCR program for the rest of the season?
“Absolutely. We’re going to go to Road America to see how that goes for GT4. We’re definitely doing TCR for the rest of the season.
“We’re still trying to figure out logistically if we can make it to Vegas [with the GT4 car] because we’re based in Ohio and that’s a hike to take three cars because we also have my teammate Chris Cole’s car.
“We’d like to go into GT4, but it’s kind of expensive at times. We’ll see what opportunities present themselves.”