Kart racer, Self, on track to Portugal
Sometimes it hard to see the finish from the starting line.
Park City High School student Michael Self he had no idea how much his father’s budding interest in go-karting would change the course of his life. Yet five years after climbing into his first car, he is just one month away from competing in Portugal at the World Finals of go-kart racing.
"It’s amazing. I couldn’t be more happy he got me involved in it," Self said.
Self, 15, steered himself to the ultimate race in his sport on a season full of wins, including a Western regional championship in California and most recently a third-place finish at the Rotax Champ Car Grand Nationals in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.
"I was pretty confident," Self said. "We’ve been doing well this year."
When Self says "we," he is referring to his father, Mike, who keeps his son’s kart in tip-top shape, as well as his mother, siblings and family and friends who also jumped on track to support Self at his numerous races.
Self raced against 39 competitors in Wisconsin in the Junior Rotax Division (ages 12-15) and will meet head-on with 60 drivers in Portugal hailing from all areas of the world.
On the Road America track in Wisconsin, Self battled rain his first time in such conditions — in both his qualifying and final races and yet still managed to drive himself to the top. Self says that driving in adverse conditions should prepare him for track in Portugal. The World competition will be held Nov. 11-18, right in the middle of the rainy season there, so Self is almost counting on a wet race.
"It’s a different driving style. You have to take a whole different line," Self said. "I think considering how well I did at nationals, it means I’m ready to go."
Mental preparation will also be important against the best young kart drivers in the world. Self wants to ensure that he is in tune with himself and his car all while remaining keenly aware of the course and what the other drivers are doing.
"I know I need to do well and try my hardest and be prepared mentally," Self said.
Alongside Self on the trip across the world will be Mike, his mother, Susan, a sibling, his grandparents and aunts and uncles.
"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so everyone wants to be a part of it," Self said. "A lot of them have followed what I’ve been doing."
Self may give them many more chances as he moves up in the racing world. This winter, he will leave go-karts for the Skip Barber circuit in cars with Dodge Neon SRT4 motors. From there, Self is dreaming big. He hopes to, one day, pursue Formula One driving as a professional career. Famous NASCAR drivers like Jeff Gordon and Brad Shoemaker got their start in go-karting, and Self hopes to make a similar progression.
"I want to see where, in the next few years, I could really go," Self said.
But for now, Self is completely focused on the World event. He is hoping for a top 10 finish, if not top five. Even if he doesn’t finish at to the top of the results, just getting there was a thrill ride for Self.
"This is a big goal for any driver," Self said. "It’s awesome to go and represent America."
To follow Self’s performance in Portugal, log onto ekartingnews.com for results and race coverage on television.
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