Michai Stephens: The Art of Perseverance
Updated: Feb 8
EVANSTON, Ill. – From the fire that burns inside to the one shared amongst our comrades, a challenge is a challenge no matter the circumstances, and for us lovers of motorsport, we believe “she” is the greatest one! As we head into Rounds 10 and 11 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda for the Honda GP of Toronto, I can’t help but to think of all the memories already shared and the ones soon to follow. With only three race weekends remaining in my rookie season of this USF2000 series, thanks to RJB Motorsports, it’s time to break free from the past to make room for the future!
With things moving at their usually fast pace, our cherished weekend at Road America for the Kohler GP has already come and gone. The weekend as a whole proved to be rewarding in many ways. From family, friends, beautiful weather, early mornings to late nights and finally some heart pounding on-track action, the team and I walked away with 13th and 20th-place finishing positions in the two races.
Race One set the ball rolling in the right direction after we struggled in practice and qualifying. Starting on the back row of the grid in 20th, I managed a progressive charge to 13th before a full-course caution and green-white-checker restart blanketed the field. On the final lap, I found myself blasting through flying dirt, colliding cars and finally hanging it around the outside of two cars on the entry and exit of the Carousel : ) However, I would ultimately fall back to 13th after being pushed wide and overshooting my marks into Canada Corner (Turn 12). Check out the video here.
With higher hopes for Race Two, I looked to make the same calculated charge through the field. Our mission was unfortunately cut short due to a mechanical issue which dropped us back to 20th to end our day. Needless to say, it was a balanced weekend with mixed highs and lows, both showcasing our development and needed areas of improvement for the coming rounds.
My experience within this team and series in 2016 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most educational times of my developing career. With the ability to wear various “hats” throughout a weekend or even voice an opinion on certain subjects and decisions has been a great honor, I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and the flexibility that has come with it . . . From logistics to rebuilding an entire corner – by the time we blow this popsicle stand, I PROMISE you, I’ll be a new man, ready as ever for the start of the next chapter!
Many thanks go out to Fred Edwards, Ryan Barth, Metalloid Corp., RJB Motorsports and everyone on the team, Wild Board Energy Drink, Andersen Promotions, Mazda, Cooper Tires, the Mazda Road to Indy and all its supporting cast. A special thanks also to the Valtierra family, Kelly Jones from RaceCraft1 Motorsports Training, Skip Barber Racing School, the Team USA Scholarship and RACER Magazine for the help in getting me here!
When in doubt . . . persevere!! ; )