Michael Chapman Looking To Get Back To The Track More
New to the website this week please help me welcome UCAR driver Michael Chapman! This is an exciting weekend for me because Michael is the first fan suggested driver to make it on to the website! I love the fact that my readers are enjoying this season and letting me know who to talk to, and how eager and excited Michael was to take this interview. Now if I could just take a moment and thank Michael and everyone who has been apart of this series for allowing me to pick your brains. Every weekend I love seeing all the visitors to the links, love seeing comments on those posts, without you guys & gals this website wouldn’t have taken off like it has and I thank each and every one of you for that!
Well this story is coming to you all but LIVE as I am writing this on Route 13, currently riding shotgun on the way home from an exciting night at East Carolina Motor Speedway – which by the way Michael told me was his favorite track he has ever been to – so I figured I’ve got two hours, my brain is already in the mood, let’s do it. Let me throw this out there, I wasn’t sand bagging or behind, once I figured out the pops wanted to go this was planned.
Michael Chapman, a father to three young boys (3, 5, 10), “We actually tried to have a girl three times, and decided to call it quits after three boys,” Michael told me with a little humor in his answer. Chapman married relatively young – it’s hard to make that judgement now a days more and more couple marry earlier – to middle school sweetheart Jennifer. “My wife was a childhood friend,” Chapman explained. “I asked her to be my girlfriend when we were 12 and now this July we have been married ten years.” Must say I have to tip my hat to you sir and wish you many more happy years!
I learned pretty quick when talking with Michael that he shares a pretty similar interest in racing as I do and maybe even a bit of a similar introduction to the sport. “I got my start in racing late in life for most peoples standards” Chapman explained. “It was about seven to eight years ago, I went to work at Seredni Tire and met Bud Allen.” Bud was involved involved in oval racing while Michael was trying his thing on the drag strip. “He bought a 1987ish race ready, well if you could call it that, Pontiac Lamans and asked if I wanted to try it out,” said Chapman. After that the rest was history. I say our stories were similar because I too got a later start, not as late as Michael’s but he still races and I don’t so we can call that even right? I was thirteen or fourteen when my dad took me to my first NASCAR race, then surprised me the following year with a go-kart, though we never really ran competitively just for fun, and again as they say the rest was history!
A lot of times growing up we remember a lot of our firsts, I remember the first race I went to vividly, the first time on a road course in a flat kart, my first wreck; these memories just have a tendency to stick with us. I asked Michael if he remembered his first race and boy did he. “I do remember my first race,” Chapman says. “I was 22 or 23 years old, I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep for two days before. But once I got in the car all that went away and my focus was only on getting around the racetrack as fast as I could!”
It only took a few races and a few top 10 finishes, in what Michael described as a 20th place for car owner Bud Allen to realize maybe we need to get this boy something a little better. A third place finish was the result of putting Chapman in a car with better equipment, not to mention earning his first career victory in his rookie season, a feat that should never go unrecognized! “From that moment on I will argue with the best of them that circle track racing is way better than drag racing,” Chapman very clearly proclaimed. “Anybody can press the gas and go faster than the other guy. Not everybody can go in a circle for 25 to 100 laps faster than 20 other people!”
“I’ll have my car done by the end of this season and I’ll bring it down there,” Chapman told me when discussing the need for larger car counts at East Carolina. “I haven’t been there in two or three years. Last time I went we had twin races and I won both, we also ran Southside the night before and won there, so three wins in two days was definitely the highlight of all of my racing career.”
Michael ran his first race this season a couple of weeks down at Southside running a car for Ronnie Vance, he was able to bring the hardware home that evening too! It may have been a while since Michael has been behind the wheel of a race car, but if you ask me that’s how you know when someone is a true wheelman! Be sure to head over and check out the rest of our interview with dragster turned UCAR driver Michael Chapman!