#20 Factory Stock – Mike Hearty
by Tom Stephenson
Mike Hearty is the 2008 Laird International Raceway Factory Stock Champion. He started racing in the Stock 4 division in 2005, then in 2007 he moved up into the Factory Stock division. His first year in the division was a bit bumpy with a number of engine failures, and other technical problems, but that was all put behind him in 2008.
So what does Mike think helped him to the championship last year? Mike said, “Definitely the new car helped. I also think it was the dedication. I put a lot of work into it in 2007, but we spent a lot of time changing motors and stuff. Last year we didn’t have the same problems. The car I got from John Hamilton for 2008 was like a Cadillac in comparison to the car I was using last year. I stored this one in the garage everyday instead of outside, I think that helped. John helped a lot too, he was always available if I had a question.”
Consistency also paid off for Mike. He said, “I didn’t miss even a single heat race last year. Even when we broke that axle during a second heat, we were able to get back out. We did get some help from Chris Jones to do it though. Chris was a phenomenal help last year. There was one night his son drove home to get a distributor for me to use after mine blew up. There was another night Chris was done, then he took an axle out of his car to loan me so I could run. I might not have got the championship without their help.”
Mike has also learned to control his emotions on the track and that helped bring him to the championship. “I think that helped me later in the season. I learned to be a bit more patient.”
We will see Mike back at Laird this year. He said, “I’m not sure how much though.” Late last season, Mike headed south to try out his skills at the track in Peterborough and enjoyed himself. He is hoping to try and participate in a few races in Southern Ontario this year, depending mainly on his finances. “We spend quite a bit of money to go that far.”
“We’re putting the same car back together hopefully with a bit better motor.” Mike’s favourite Nascar driver is Tony Stewart, who changed his car number and colour scheme this season. “I just bought new orange and black shirts for the guys last season with the number 20 on them so I’ll keep the same number and paint scheme as last year.”
There will be some good competition for Mike again this year. He said, “I’d love to see Cody MacLean run the full season. He’s a good clean driver. I was talking with Chris Jones and he said he’s doing a lot of work on his car and that he’d be back out this year and that I’d have to watch out.” Besides more of the veterans, there are a few rookie drivers that will be seen in the division this year. It will make for an interesting race season.
Mike hasn’t been too much into adjusting the setup of his car. He said, “With our cars there is not that much that we can change on the setup. I’ve been reading like crazy though and now I’m going to try and apply some of it. I didn’t touch the rear jack bolts last season, but this year, even if it might make the car loose, I’m going to try and turn one now. How do you learn if you don’t try?”
Mike is currently single. He is also unemployed and looking for work. “It’s tough out there finding a job right now. I’ll do almost anything.” When I last interviewed him in 2007, Mike was employed by Envirotech Sealing and Fibreglassing fixing things like gas leaks in the steel plant.
Mike’s sponsor’s this year will be Millie's Mini Mart, DynaType Motorsports, Dunne Distributing, Action Music, R&R Wholesale, Service Grill & SideTrack Lounge, Rezolution Digitial Imaging & Signs, Cain Trucking, Handiman Clem & Construction, & Red Rock Contracting. Mike is still out searching for a few more. He has one almost lined up for his proposed activity in Southern Ontario, but wishes to keep that sponsor anonymous for now, until they are committed.
In the pits Mike is helped by Kevin Girardi, Bill Hurst, and Garry Gendron joins the team this year. Some photos of Mike and his teammates can be seen at his own website: http://hitmanracing.piczo.com