Saturday, March 28, 2015

Laise trims racing schedule to spend more time with family

Mike Laise of Pottstown first dipped his toe into the local racing scene at the age of 5, running quarter midgets in Phoenixville mainly with the Montgomery County Quarter Midget Racing Club until he was 16. He compiled 129 career feature wins.
For much of the next two seasons, he served as the chief flagger at the track.
In 2005 at the age of 17, Laise walked away from his flagging to work his own racing schedule and school demands. He became part of the crew helping out Chris Esposito, who drove a 358 modified weekly at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville.
The next year Laise steered a family-owned 358 modified at Grandview, running a very limited schedule.
By 2007 Laise raced weekly at Grandview, running his first full campaign in a 358 modified. Laise graduated from Pottsgrove High School and began to attend Montgomery County Community College.
In March 2009 Laise became a father when his daughter Brooke was born.
Through the past eight years, Laise, who works for Branch Medical Group as a CNC machine operator and shift manager, poured much of his income, available hours and everything else into his racing efforts. It all but consumed him, trying to be at the track every Saturday.
In 2011 Laise earned his first and only 358 modified feature win at Grandview.
The excitement of racing hasn't worn off for Laise, who turned 26 in December. In 2015, though, he has decided to take a very different approach.
"We did good in 2014," Laise said. "But it was an expensive season. The last race I actually ran with my own stuff, the Freedom 76 in September, that night I backed it hard into the wall and completely destroyed my chassis. We ended up purchasing a 2013 Bicknell chassis that Ray Swinehart had put up for sale. I plan to still race in 2015, but I'll be scaling things back to once or twice a month. I cannot race every Saturday night.
"My daughter is 6. I need the time I invested in racing all these years to focus on my daughter more. My priorities have shifted, I guess."
Driving his self-financed No. 15 358 Modified Michael Smith Painting R&R Racing Engines entry, Laise spent many nights running near the front in 2014, but spent the money coming in as quickly as he made it.
"Last summer we busted our tail trying to keep it going and never miss a week," said Laise. "I just didn't have the resources to experiment and do what I wanted to do. Fixing it weekly, just good enough to keep racing, the car never is right.
"Starting up front in the heats, I never learned that much. If I race only as a part-timer, I will start in the back in the heat races and learn more while I follow other drivers through the traffic. I'll work harder, sure, to get my desired results, but taking a week or two off and taking some extra time just to prepare the car better, my car will be fresher and stronger each time that we do race it.
"Going out there being able to just run on nights where I pick and choose, it's just better, I think. Racing my car is still the fun, most relaxing part of it all for me."

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