Five With The Five: Trans Am and Dirt Talk With Michael Self

Five With The Five: Trans Am and Dirt Talk With Michael Self

2019 has five different drivers competing for the championship, Travis Braden, Michael Self, Bret Holmes, Joe Graf Jr., and Christian Eckes. Come follow each of their journeys this season with our “Five With The Five” where each week we set the timer for five minuets  and sit down with them to find out what’s been going on both in and out of the race car. 

     Next up, Michael Self!   

Andrea: Hey, how are you?

Michael: Good. How about yourself?

Andrea: Not too bad. Just catching up on everything, now that we have two weeks off now.

Michael: Yeah, just settle in a little bit, yeah.

Andrea: Right. So what, have you been up to? Anything exciting, or just kind of school work and catching up yourself?

Michael: Yeah, so this weekend is ... Or, this week, I guess, is actually a little bit easier for me because I've finished up my summer semester last week before we headed out to Pocono. Now, I've got three weeks off until I start back for the fall semester. So between that, we've got a lot of ... Oh, I've got a lot of Trans Am stuff going on, so I actually head to Indianapolis tomorrow for the Trans Am event, for coaching for the weekend. Then, head to mid Ohio in the middle of next week for another Trans Am event. Then, obviously we've got Springfield the next week. As much of a break as there is for me being out of the seat it's not really a break because this is really when the road course stuff kicks in a couple weeks in a row here.

Andrea: Gotcha. What all's involved with coaching and Trans Am stuff that you do?

Michael: So it's a lot of data and data acquisition video analysis. So every car that runs in the Trans Am TA2 series is equipped with a full data system, and they're all required to run in-car cameras. So basically, whenever my guys go out, that data is recording, and it's getting GPS, speed, it's got track mapping, it's got throttle inputs, brake inputs, steering inputs. What's kind of cool is as my guys go out, all that data records, I can bring it in, I can collect that data. Then, I can overlay them on top of each other. So I have a lot of old data from track record qualifying times, or race winners from the past couple years, or laps that I've run at those places that I know are good, consistent, clean laps. So I can take my client's information, I can take their data and overlay it with mine or with this other data that I have, and compare and say, "Okay, this guy is faster that you here in this section." Then, we look at is it because of his throttle input? Is it because he's using less brake? Is he rolling more speed and why? Then, we compare that with video. We can kind of plug in the video to my computer and show them their onboard of that particular section, and I can say, "This is what you should change here from a drive standpoint." Because it's easy to point to something on the computer and say, "Look, you're slower in this section maybe because you're not picking up the throttle as soon." But, when you go mash that with the video, the onboard video, you can say, "Okay, well the car's not pointed the right direction, or you're in a slide this way." So it kind of makes it so we can mash the two together. I've been fortunate to have all that, because it's a lot of tools that really help make sense to a guy.

Andrea: Yeah, that's really cool. Do you kind of do that kind of stuff with stock cars too, or not so much?

Michael: Not really, because we can't run data unless it's an open test day. So when we do have data on our cars, like in a Charlotte test, or a Pensacola test, or something like that, yeah, I love to sit down and look at that and compare and get an idea of it. But, on normal race weekends we don't have that.

Andrea: Right. Yeah, I help a little bit with timing the scoring, but I don't know a whole lot about that kind of stuff. So that's really cool.

Michael: Yeah, no, it is. It's really cool, and it's kind of nice because it made it so I can have multiple drivers in one weekend. It's a very relaxed series. I mean, a lot of our shows are three days long. So this weekend, for example, we'll have two practice sessions on Friday that are separated by like six hours. They're each 30 or 40 minutes. Then, on Saturday we'll have another practice session Saturday morning, and then usually a qualifying session Saturday afternoon, and then race on Sunday. So there's a lot of time to sit down and do the coaching and sit with the guys after the session, which is kind of nice.

Andrea: It sounds very different than what we have. It's very go, go, go.

Michael: Very different. It's very relaxed, but it's fun. It's a good group of guys that I work with. It's definitely a more relaxed schedule. We go to some really cool tracks.

Andrea: Oh yeah, I bet. I love road courses so much!

Michael: Yeah, you and me both! You need to push Ron to get more back on the schedule.

Andrea: Haha! Oh, I know. I know. I'd love that. Well, the complete opposite- we’re going dirt racing next.

Michael: Yeah, I know.

Andrea: What's going on with your mind there, because I know it's not something you have a whole lot of experience with, and then you have Christian who's won at Springfield. Have you two been talking about it?

Michael: Yeah, I mean, I talked to him, and Justin Haley (he won at Springfield a couple years ago) so I'll definitely lean on him and get information. I've been asking everyone,Frank Kimmel, anyone that I know that's driven on the dirt. I've kind of been asking what to expect, because I do have a little bit of dirt experience. I mean, I have run some micro Sprint car stuff, I did a school under a late model back years ago. I mean, that's about the extent of it. But, everyone that I've talked to, the feedback's kind of interesting. They're like, "Look, the track takes so much rubber that it's just not really like dirt. It's just like really slick asphalt." So that's been kind of interesting to hear. So I don't really know exactly what's going to happen, or how I'm going to be at it. But, I feel like I have a fairly idea of what to expect, because I've been able to get so much feedback.

Andrea: All right. I'll let you get back to your day. Thanks, Michael.

Michael: All right, sounds good. Talk to you soon. Thanks, bye.

Darin A.

Michael Self in Trans-Am? This I would love to watch in the near future! :)