Current NZ1 Sprintcar driver Michael Pickens certainly is a crowd favourite. He has had many feature and title wins during his career in both the Sprintcar and Midget classes, almost too many for us to list here.
We fired off a few questions to Michael this off-season and asked for the inside info like where he started, what his future looks like and much more. Check out what he has to say in Let’s chat – Michael Pickens.
Quick fire questions
Years racing: 25
Home track: Western Springs
Feature wins: 183
Classes raced: Midgets / Sprintcars
Sponsors: CRC / Stadium Finance
What age did you start racing?
And how did you start?
What classes have you raced over the years?
Go Karts / 1/4 Midgets / Midgets / Sprintcars / Late models dirt/pavement / Super Saloons / TQ’s
What are you most proud of in your racing career?
Punamville, IN USAC Midget win
Can you list some of your racing achievements?
9x NZ Midget Champs / 1x Sprintcar champ / Powri and USAC Midget wins USA / 3rd Chili Bowl A Main / Pavement Late Model win
What are you currently doing in the off-season and how do you prepare mentally and physically for this sport?
I’ve done this long enough my body doesn’t know any different lol
What characterises to you think is important to becoming as successful as you in racing?
Never give up and surround yourself with the right people.
What is happening with your cars in the off-season any major changes we should look out for once the season starts?
We are running the same cars as last season with a rebuild and a tidy up!
How would you compare the difference between racing a Midget and Sprintcar?
Sprintcar is allot faster with the aero and you race them different to how you race a Midget because of the aero.
Speedway racing can be fast and dangerous, looking out towards the fans, what do you think is one thing the fans will never understand until they are behind the wheel of a race car?
I guess one thing they will never understand is the feeling of winning, that is something that always keeps me coming back but ironically the fans are part of what makes it so special, with no fans it sure as hell would not be the same!
What is the story behind number 54?
54 is the age Don Kay was when he started racing, we kept using that number when I started driving for him and it kind of stuck ever since!
What is your favourite race on the NZ race calendar?
The 50 lap Classic is the toughest race to win and is always a favourite of mine.
What NZ racetrack is your favourite and why?
Western Springs is my favourite track, it’s such a historic place and a mega atmosphere!!!
And how about in the US? Favourite track and why?
Kokomo, IN would be my favourite track in the USA, it produces 3 and 4 wide racing and never disappoints!!!
Which Speedway legends do you look up to?
I have always admired the drivers that raced before us, in particular Gary and Merle Bettenhausen these guys raced before roll cages, before power steering etc Those guys did it tough and I respect them for that!
What do you hope to achieve next season?
Pretty simple, we want to win as many races as possible!
What are your future plans for racing? What is next for Michael Pickens?
I am trying to do a few Rallys over winter plus some Midget racing in Australia in August as far as Speedway goes, I hope to get back to USA ASAP!!!
We are sure you have many up and coming race car drivers that look up to you, what advice would you give them?
Never give up and make sure you surround yourself with the right people.
We like to give our drivers the opportunity to thank sponsors and alike here, who have you to thank?
CRC / Stadium Finance / Pipeline Industries / GeckCo Motorsport / Fleet Fix / KP Tanks / Genuine Vehicle Imports / GT International logistics / Carters Tires / Racer Products / Lucas oil / Graphic Wrap / HPC / Bays Car Painters
And finally, where can your fans keep up to date with what is going on?