Mike Bonanni, OG Attacker of Time

2 May

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mike Bonanni for several years now. He’s definitely one of the guys that should be considered OG by anyone with any sort of sense for that type of judgement. He competed at some of the VERY earliest Redline Time Attack events.

Mike is one of the few guys involved in the sport of time attack who IS involved simply out of pure passion for what he’s doing. No ulterior motives, no drama, no involvement ONLY because he’s getting a paycheck every two weeks. He loves cars. He loves driving them FAST and at the absolute limit. And he’s a stand-up guy throughout!

Which is why I am as happy for Mike as I am to see that he is involved in time attack this year!  I had the chance to chat with Mike last night… Here’s what he had to say…

 

Team Name:  Descendant Racing
Car Make/Model: 
2011 Scion tC
Sponsors: 
Descendant Racing, WORLD Racing, KW Suspension, JE Pistons, Continental Tire
Tires: 
Continental Tire Extreme Contact DW


Nikolas:You’ve been involved in the time attack world since the very beginning, back to 2006, at least. If not earlier. But this first event of the 2012 season presented something new for you. A new team and a Street FWD Class car to compete with. What’s the short story on this?


Mike: Yeah I have in the game for a while as a privateer and have been fortunate the past few years to have been brought onto some awesome teams.  This year marked a new change for me in terms of what I am used to and that was a switch to FWD behind the wheel of Chris Rado’s personal street car.  The idea was very last minute and I just so happened to be available to drive so when Chris asked me I jumped on the chance to work alongside the WORLD Racing guys who are in my opinion one of the most top notch crews in all of time attack.

As a huge fan of time attack (I’d like to think I’m THE biggest fan…  🙂   I have to say that it’s great to see you involved this season. I was getting a bit worried there towards in January/February with no news on what you would be up to.


You and me both!  I have a tremendous passion for this sport as you know and I worked my ass off at the end of last season to try and get a ride.  At the beginning of this year I decided to go with plan B and start trying to get my daily driver 370Z track ready. Fortunately just two weeks before round #1 of GTA I got the call from Chris Rado to drive the tC which was a much better situation.

 

You may not want to talk about it, but last year you were the driver for Berk Technology in their BMW 135i. You had great success in that car in both time attack and the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships. I’d like for fans of time attack to not forget your successes last year! 🙂


I don’t mind talking about it at all, although it was a surprise to many, including me, that’s just part of racing.  Programs change, drivers move around, all is good.  Berk’s decision was not based off of hard feelings and I have no hard feelings toward them either.  We had a tremendous run with that car/team from getting them their first win with the BMW to earning back to back championships.  I have nothing but awesome memories from those two seasons.

Is the deal you have in place with Christian Rado at World Racing a season-long agreement? Can fans expect to see you down at Road Atlanta this month?


Originally Christian and I had talked about doing a full season with the street car, but unfortunately at Buttonwillow the FWING 2.0 race car had a catastrophic engine failure and small fire that did some damage.  In addition to that, the street car had its own set of issues and with the short time period before their hauler has to be on the road to Georgia for Round #2, they just simply don’t have the time to get the street car working again so it won’t be making the east coast swing.  There is some chance that it will make it out to the Texas event as well as the finals at Buttonwillow again in November.

 

You’re a busy guy when it comes to motorsports and cars. You’ve been helping out the guys at Hard Driving Motorsports for a little while. What exactly are you doing for them?


Yeah I tend to spread myself out as much as I can as you never know where it may lead.  Hard-Driving Motorsports is a small group of guys who want to build premium track day cars.  I have many roles within the company, but I was brought on originally to help conceptualize the builds and test and setup the cars when done.  We’ve recently completed a really cool R35 GT-R and we are working on a major full race car buildup of a Corvette Z06 for the Western Endurance Racing Series and 25 Hours of Thunderhill.  When that project is done, I will be one of the main drivers which I am stoked for.

And you recently participated at the Modified Magazine Tuner Shootout in your personal/daily-driver Nissan 370z. I’m not sure you can discuss the results just yet, but how does it feel to race your OWN car again? Just like it used to be back in the olden’ days of TA? 🙂


Yes unfortunately I can’t spill the beans on the results yet, but it was a fun time.  Racing my own car again is awesome in some ways and terrible in others.  It is very fun to be in complete control of what goes on with the car, how it looks, marketing it, etc.  It is also super fun to be able to implement some of the things I have learned from being around teams that work with professional engineers and aerodynamicists.  For that same reason, it sucks because I have almost no budget, no tow vehicle, and no trailer so I can’t even get close to doing everything I want to the car.  At least back in 2006-2009 when I was a privateer the first time, real estate was going well and I had money to burn.  Now I am a full time college student trying to get my degree so I can get another decent job to support this expensive passion of mine.  I am incredibly thankful though for the companies like BC Racing North America, Whiteline, Hawk Performance, Hankook, and more who all stand behind me as a driver and who are willing to support things like my 370Z when I am in need.

 

Besides time attack, are you working on any other motorsport efforts? Perhaps finding a way to get back into the MPTCC and defend your 2011 Tuner Over Class Championship? We’d love to see you back out at the MPTCC events!


I would love nothing more than to continue moving forward with wheel to wheel racing.  I had such an awesome time competing in the MPTCC series last year and I am still trying desperately to find another way in. Although I will always have a passion for time attack, wheel to wheel racing is where I want to go next.  I have been working every day on finding support to bring to a team and it is still very tough to find an open seat.  If anyone out there knows of some builds in progress or open seats, send them my way, I promise I won’t disappoint!

For everyone out there who may not be familiar with how to follow your motorsport efforts, where can folks find you online?


The two best ways are via my website, MikeBonanni.com, and through my Facebook fan page which is Facebook.com/Bonanni Motorsports.  I also have a Twitter @MikeBonanni, and an Instagram @mbonanni.  Beware though, my Instagram is a much more personal look into my life…and I post food photos, but only of things I cook myself.

I want to be sure to thank you for all of the support you’ve given to me during the years I ran Redline Track Events and Redline Time Attack. I could not have had the success with Redline that I did, if it wasn’t for the support from folks like you! Thanks!


And a tremendous thank you to you for all of the work you put in really bringing time attack to the forefront and making it accessible to guys like me back in 2006 when I didn’t even own a driving suit!  A great deal of my success can be attributed to being able to ride on the coat tails of the success of the late great Redline Time Attack series.

Hopefully we’ll see you out at the North American Championships of Speed this December. We’d love to have you there, whether it be the time attack invitational or one of the wheel-to-wheel races.  Let’s keep each other posted.


I will certainly be doing everything in my power to get an MPTCC ride, or a big time attack seat, but one thing is certain and that is that I will be there, even if I have to enter my daily driver.

Thanks Again Mike, and best of luck to you this year!  


Thank you Nik and keep up the good work!

 

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