Michai Stephens Blog: Destiny from the start. Lead to the end
The past six months have given me the chance to learn who I am through what I love! The trenches were sticky, deep and at times difficult to cross, but such trials formed the basis for the next step.
In 2021, I went from a fine art and furniture restoration company to a semi-professional racing driver for Mr. John Farrow and the JMF Motorsports / Conquest Racing West Mercedes AMG GT4 team. During this phase, I learned to cherish the chronology of development, rather than rushing its process. Along the way, critical milestones have presented themselves to me at times and places that I have never seen coming. But in embracing a student mindset, the journey continues to recognize when I’m fit to handle the next chapter in welcoming its challenges.
The final round of the 2021 SRO Pirelli GT4 SprintX Championship brought us to the temple of speed, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – a place where MPHs and RPMs have no limits, a place where commitment is set and loot. of victory forever sublime. After leaving Sebring with our team’s first two wins, we painted a target on our back big enough to be seen from the International Space Station. So, handling that expectation with care and respect certainly added a new flavor to the weekend, but we were up to the challenge.
To prepare, I studied the video from the previous year and benefited from the additional knowledge of Dane Cameron, alumnus of Team USA Scholarship. Dane kindly took the time to share with me the experience he had gained from participating in the Indy 8 Hour the previous year. His contribution would soon pay huge dividends!
On the first day, our confidence started to take shape as we prepared for battle. In qualifying I managed to drag our Farrow Mercedes AMG GT4 to the first row starting P2 in race one, while Colin got a P10 just 0.2 seconds behind in race two. My goal was to stay with the leader BMW as long as possible, but like any good plan, everything went up in smoke. Still, the team and I managed to make our way through a few early woes and claim another top spot in the overall standings.
This victory was yet another testament to the trust and understanding we had built in one another. As always, each member of our team had carried their weight and more! Stepping on one of the most famous podiums in motorsport was an experience that symbolized our intention to make our own history.
The last day in Indianapolis started off with a bang, literally, like one of our air pipes to a freewheeling rifle of responsibility – luckily without serious consequences – just as Colin took up the green flag. Also, we had chosen to make a pretty big change to the setup before the race in anticipation of the rain that did not materialize, so we quickly struggled to keep the pace of the leaders. However, our goal has remained the same. And when Colin handed me the car, it was a total sprint to the finish. Classifying us in P1 on the penultimate lap left only fourteen corners navigating to ensure our fourth consecutive victory and a fair end to the season. Crossing the line until I saw the celebrating JMF Motorsports / Conquest Racing West team, I dove down to the inside wall to salute them for their incredible efforts.
To my amazement as I completed the recovery tour, I was guided under the pagoda in the presence of the warmest welcome I have ever experienced. With camera flashes firing into the car, the cockpit quickly turned into a 70s disco fever. As people gathered, I pulled the car to a halt after one of the most entertaining rides in town. my life and I took a moment to thank everything that had happened. Hearing the door open, I clenched my fists and threw them in the sky – it was time to celebrate!
The gravity of this realization and the emotions that accompanied it were overwhelming. The deed was done and I was proud to have carried the torch. Looking back, I give credit to the building blocks of our team’s growth and experience over each weekend. At Road America, we started our race with a fourth and third place in the class; at Watkins Glen we followed it up with two second places and at Sebring we started our streak of first places overall. To even consider such results at the forefront of this business would have seemed ridiculous, but as we grew older so did our point of view.
From the jump, John never hesitated to take up the challenge and Eric Bachelart and the team never failed to provide the necessary tools to conquer new horizons. Just being the beneficiary of the hard work, expertise and consideration of many wonderful people is something I will hold onto for the rest of my life. It had been almost six years since I raced in professional motorsport, and knowing that it’s not over is a victory we all have to share and appreciate. My heart will forever be with those who provided me with the opportunity, guidance, hard love and privilege to pursue my dream.
To celebrate the season, an invitation to the 2021 SRO Awards Gala in Indianapolis was absolutely epic! Everyone was dressed as new and the evening was a great occasion for devoted souls to be applauded for their remarkable efforts. As for the JMF Motorsports / Conquest Racing West organization, securing seven out of eight podiums demonstrated the potential available and third place in the championship marked a glorious end to our 2021 season.
It was both an unforgettable evening and a year, one that I never saw coming and one that still shocks me today! As before, I got a glimpse into the world of professional motorsport and my childhood dream of becoming a professional racing driver. This year has reminded me that my schedule in this industry is different from almost everyone, but my reason for being here is the same. Motorsport is the vessel I have chosen to guide me on the journey of my life on this earth. Special thanks to Mr. Farrow, for bringing hope back to reality – you are the man.