On the last night of competition for the 2015 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, Michael Lira thought he had finally put his bad luck behind him. Racing a backup car in the Pro Late Model feature, he took the lead with five laps to go, then pulled away to cross the finish line with a 10 car-length lead.
During a race earlier in the week, Michael’s primary car was destroyed when both the car to his inside and the car behind him made contact with him entering turn three. He went hard in to the wall backwards, totalling what was a brand new car out of the team’s Port Orange race shop. It was his second DNF in three World Series starts this year.
The team came back for the last night of competition with a backup car, nicknamed ‘Old Blue’. The car sported a Zack Donatti windshield decal and number nine decal on the side, added by the team last year in memory of the former New Smyrna racer. Zack, who was a good friend of Michael’s, lost his life on June 14 last year in an accident at a construction site.
Described by the commentators as ‘animated’ in victory lane, the excited Spruce Creek High School Senior climbed out of the car and said, “This definitely makes the hardships this week worth it. My guys work so hard. They built such a nice car, that primary car. I’m so sorry that it got wrecked. ‘Old Blue’ was sittin’ in the shop saying ‘why aren’t you running me?’. This old car was good. I’m glad we brought it out tonight and put a whoopin’ on ‘em. It was fun! It all came together tonight.”
An emotional Tom Donatti, Zack’s dad, joined Michael’s family and the team in victory lane to congratulate him. Pictures were taken and interviews were done before the car was taken back to post-race inspection. It was there that an already rough week for the team got a hundred times more intense, as they were notified that the car had failed inspection. A weight issue, as determined by scales that were flooded earlier in the week in a dirt and gravel infield inspection area, had disqualified the car. A car that had passed inspection dozens of times before.
Michael and everyone on the team put an incredible amount of effort into building and testing the new car, then in preparing the backup car. The DQ may take Michael’s name off the race win list for the 2015 World Series, but it doesn’t take away the spirit of this team, or its will to field competitive cars capable of winning races and championships. On the Monday after the race, the crew was back in the shop, hard at work. This team doesn’t give up, and we’ll show up at our next race even stronger.
For more information, follow Michael Lira on Twitter at @1MichaelLira and visit his official website at www.MichaelLiraRacing.com. You can also find him on Facebook at /MichaelLiraRacingOfficial.