Feature: Scion’s Michele Abbate

By Driving Pretty

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“I’m 26 years old and I am a Las Vegas native. I have spent all of my life around many types of motorsports. My older brother, Michael Abbate, was a very successful driver in many go-kart in the 90’s and his achievements opened my eyes to the world of racing. It has always been my dream and passion to drive but it was not my reality until I stopped watching him and took action myself to get on the track. My first national event with the SCCA was in 2007 with a podium finish behind two national champions. In April of 2009 I expanded my racing career with road course racing and time attack events through several organizations including 600 Racing/INEX, Redline Time Attack, NASA, UMS Tuning Time Attack, and others.

After about a year and a half of driving in NASA’s High Performance Driving Education I earned my NASA Time Trial License in 2010 still using my daily driven car. After graduating from UNLV in 2010 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Marketing I became a factory driver for Scion Racing while driving the 2011 Crawford Performance Scion tC. While working towards my race license and competing regionally with Scion, I earned 2nd place overall in 2011 for NASA Time Trials TT-E class.

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In 2012, just before the racing season, I earned my Provisional Race License through NASA. With this achievement I then competed in the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships in the Southern California NASA region. With eight rounds of wheel to wheel racing I became the Champion of the Tuner Under class with the help and support from Scion Racing and Dynamic Autosports in their 2012 Scion tC during my rookie year. We continued our efforts in 2013 to defend our championship and ended the year with a 4th place overall finish.

In 2014, I took a big step and was given the opportunity to utilize the new FT86 Scion FR-S chassis. In addition, as some fortunate and unfortunate events panned out in the beginning of the season, I took the reigns in my own hands and became the team owner and driver of the FR-S with help from Scion Racing. I decided to debut in my first professional wheel to wheel race with the United States Touring Car Championship series. Due to complications outside my control we had a late start to the season, but made our first appearance at the world famous Mazda Raceway Leguna Seca event. Currently we are sitting 6th in overall points out of 18, 4th for rookie of the year, and we earned Scion it’s first manufacturer point in the history of the series. ( We just had our last race of the year, so these results may be changing a bit due to our strong finish).

I am very grateful to have history with the Scion Racing team and I look forward to continuing to compete in several road course events to gain more seat time, experience, and exposure by excelling my motorsports career at both a regional and national level. I am also expanding my racing experience with different types of racing including drift, rally, and even motorcycles! The track is where I belong and it fuels all my motivation in life.”

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As a female auto racer, does the opposite gender intimidate you, or do they encourage you?

There’s a little bit of everything in racing, just like any other sport. I tend to surround myself with the positives though. I don’t have the time or energy to waste on negativity.

Do others race you harder on the track or go easier?

I am pretty certain that everyone in the USTCC series races to win. I don’t think there is any driver out there that would “go easy” on another driver. We all respect each other, and as professionals, we understand how each other races and how far we can trust one another.

How do you like running your own race team? Is it more stressful?

It is the best opportunity I have ever had. In my past racing career, I was fortunate to drive for several teams, and in different cars; but this year has allowed me to see the whole picture and control every instance. I am thankful for my crew chief, Anthony Philleo, and for my dad, Mike, who have contributed more than anyone else to our success.

What’s it like to win a championship such as your Tuner Under Class Championship?

It is the most rewarding result, but it does not come easy. You must be consistent, precise, and determined to win. A championship only happens when all things are working in harmony. It is much like winning a race, but being consistent at it.

Where do you capitalize on the racetrack more? Straightaways, or in the turns?

Our FR-S is light compared to the other race car in the USTCC series. We have low horsepower, but at tracks with elevation, tight turns, and technical sections we really have the upper hand.

Out of the racetracks that you have been to, which one was your favorite and why?

I really enjoyed Miller Motorsports Park. Although it is very flat, it is a very smooth and fast track. I feel like you can really push the limits, at high speed, at Miller. In addition, I also really enjoyed the 5 mile track at Thunderhill, it is super long, fast,and very technical. It is such a challenging track and that is what is so great about it. You must stay focused for what seems to be so much longer, per lap, which is very demanding.

 

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