Michael Lira has a lot to be excited about in 2014. In addition to continuing his studies in the International Baccalaureate Program at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Florida, and defending his No. 1 state ranking in trombone competition, the talented 16-year-old stock car racer plans to run 14 races in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards with Kimmel Racing.
Lira has been busy in the last month preparing for the upcoming season. When the ARCA Racing Series held a weekend of testing sessions at Daytona International Speedway, Lira was granted special permission to participate.
“I was very excited to test at Daytona,” Lira said. “I’ve grown up watching my dad run sports cars there, and getting to experience it for myself was an incredible opportunity. I learned so much in just one weekend there, and it has definitely made me a more confident driver.”
Lira has also been busy working to secure additional sponsorship for the upcoming season. The young racer is looking to “get out the vote” as he seeks a spot on “Team Champion” in Champion Spark Plugs “Search for a Champion.” Internet voting is open now through February 2 and fans of the Florida driver can help him reach the next level in his career.
“Sponsorship is such an important part of racing,” Lira said. “The Champion ‘Search for a Champion’ program will award 15 drivers with funding for their 2014 seasons. Participating in the contest is a lot of fun and I am hoping we can drum up enough support to help us with the funding we need to be successful.”
Lira will drive the No. 69 Ford Fusion for Kimmel Racing for the 2014 season, with Gary Yeomans Ford as the car’s primary sponsor, in addition to Costa and AttorneyatLaw.com. The team is headed by legendary ARCA crew chief Bill Kimmel, who won eight consecutive championships in the ARCA Racing Series from 2000 – 2007 as the crew chief for his brother, Frank.
“I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Bill,” Lira said. “He’s had so much success in his career, and I’m eager to learn as much as I can. Kimmel Racing is such an established and successful team in ARCA. It is a championship-caliber organization, as they have proven in the past, and I’m excited to do my part in continuing that tradition. I want to improve as a driver, and I want to win. There’s no other team that I would rather be a part of.”
Lira faces a challenging schedule in 2014 and will rely heavily on mentor Bill Kimmel for coaching as he travels to some of the country’s most famous speedways. Lira will face a variety of tracks, from ARCA short-track staples like the famous Berlin Speedway and Lucas Oil Raceway, to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series mainstays like Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway.
Lira began his ARCA Racing Series career in 2013, running four races in association with Jack Roush, Roush Fenway Racing and Kimmel Racing, but 2014 will be his first real test in the series. ARCA rules dictate that, because he is only 16 years old, he is not eligible to race at tracks that measure more than one mile in length. Once he turns 17, Lira will be authorized to run the intermediate tracks as well, which include tracks up to 1.5 miles long. Only once he turns 18 will series rules permit him to run the full range of larger tracks and superspeedways.
“While Michael will not be able to compete on the superspeedways for a few more years, the test sessions at Daytona were an important learning process for him,” crew chief Bill Kimmel said. “We’re encouraged by what we’ve seen from Michael so far. He’s still very young, but he’s had a lot of success early on, and we’re confident that will continue in the upcoming season. We’re very happy to have him as a part of Kimmel Racing.”
Lira will face his first test of the 2014 season March 22, when the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads to Mobile International Speedway in Mobile, Alabama, for the ARCA Mobile 200. For up-to-date information on Michael Lira and the No. 69 Kimmel Racing team, go to www.michaelliraracing.com.
Michael Lira’s 2014 ARCA Racing Series Schedule:
March 22: ARCA Mobile 200 @ Mobile Int’l Speedway
April 27: ARCA 200 @ Salem Speedway
May 18: Toledo ARCA 200 @ Toledo Speedway
June 1: New Jersey Motorsports Park 150 @ New Jersey Motorsports Park
June 21: Elko ARCA 250 @ Elko Speedway
July 6: Winchester ARCA 200 @ Winchester Speedway
July 25: ARCA 200 @ Lucas Oil Raceway
August 1: ModSpace 125 @ Pocono Raceway
August 9: Berlin ARCA 200 @ Berlin Raceway
August 17: Allen Crowe Memorial 100 @ Illinois State Fairgrounds
August 24: Madison ARCA 200 @ Madison Int’l Speedway
September 1: Southern Illinois 100 @ DuQuoin State Fairgrounds
September 13: ARCA Fall Classic @ Salem Speedway
September 19: ZLOOP 150 @ Kentucky Speedway