In the Driver's Seat

Michael Mitchell

Lives in: Loomis, California
Car number: 77

Mike Mitchell got interested in racing when he was a boy. His dad owned race cars that others drove for him and to Mitchell it looked like something he’d like to try when he got old enough. By that time, however, his father had quit racing, so Mitchell turned to other things in his life.

Time passed, as it often does. Mitchell matured and finished his education and went to work. He got married, he and wife Katie welcomed two daughters and he and friend Brian George started Sinister Diesel in Roseville, California, where they manufacture diesel performance and racing products.

 Somewhere along the way Mitchell met and became friends with Jason Bamberg, who raced Modifieds in northern California.

“He was the one who convinced me to get out there and drive and once I did I was hooked,” said Mitchell, the leading contender for DJ Safety Rookie of the Year honors in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts.

“It was in Roseville, at All American Speedway. I had one practice day and raced the next week. I felt pretty confident. I did get black-flagged in my first heat race. They felt I was over-driving the car but I didn’t feel that way. Maybe they were just surprised. I got 10th in that race even after going to the back.”

That was a little over four years ago, when Mitchell launched his career as part of a three-car team that included Bamberg and Jay Linstroth, who won the California state championship that season.

“He (Linstroth) help me get started, helped me with my driving,” said Mitchell, who moved into the North State Modified Series with his teammates in 2014. “Then they (Bamberg and Linstroth) both got out and that’s kind of what led me to continue to do it. Taking care of three cars was a lot of work so I was considering another car and another kind of racing, but George (Black, his crew chief) and Dan McCarthy wanted me to race a Modified and I said okay.”

Mitchell settled into the series as both a driver and a sponsor and was consistently in the top 10 in races and the point standings, but couldn’t make the drive into the winner’s circle. He continues to be involved in the northern California series and on June 24 was second to Eric Price Jr. in the Sinister Diesel Summer Sizzler at All American Speedway. He said he may do one or two more North State events but his focus is on the Lucas Oil Modified Series.

The 40-year-old resident of Loomis, California, got his indoctrination to the series in 2016, when he ran three races with a best finish of seventh at Rocky Mountain Raceways in Utah, and began his bid for Rookie of the Year at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, on March 11.

michael mitchell car“One thing I really liked about the series was that the rules were really strict and they enforced them really well. I felt like that leveled the playing field a little more,” Mitchell said. “I knew it was going to be tough and it is. In some other series you’re waiting for a guy to make a mistake and here it doesn’t happen, they just keep running consistent laps.

“I feel like I do well in practice. In qualifying I think I’m being too conservative. But overall I don’t feel a lot of pressure.”

Mitchell may have been too conservative to suit himself but he has qualified for all four races thus far on time, which is not easy to do in a series where a half-second or less usually will separate the top 15 or 20 cars.

He’s finished respectfully as well – ninth at Havasu 95 Speedway in March, 10th at Tucson Speedway in April, 12th at Las Vegas in May and 14th at Madera (California) Speedway June 10.

That has put him 10th in the Hoosier Tire West point standings and first in the rookie competition going into the July 1 race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, where he’ll continue to adapt to live in the ultra-competitive touring series.

“I knew there were a lot of good drivers in the series,” Mitchell said, “but I’ve definitely been surprised at how well they actually do race to race.”



Age: 40 (1 May 1977)
Lives in: Loomis, California
Marital status: Married; wife Katie; two daughters
Occupation: Owner, Sinister Diesel in Roseville, California
Car number: 77
Type of chassis: STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: George Black
Sponsors: Sinister Diesel; Powder Coat-It; Palmer Signs; CV Industrial Supply; Transmissions by Hal
Years in racing: 5
Divisions raced: Lucas Oil Modifieds, North State Modifieds, Grand American Modifieds
Series point standings: First season


Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Kern County RacewayKern County Raceway
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Orange Show SpeedwayOrange Show Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
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In the Driver's Seat

Ryan Schartau

Ryan Schartau

Age: 16 (2 October 2002)
Lives in: Chino, California
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student; sophomore at Ontario Christian High School
Car number: 7r
Type of chassis: RBK-STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Dean Kuhn
Sponsors: Scott Brothers Dairy; SpillVak; Team RBK Years in racing: 11 years Divisions raced: Go-karts, Trophy Karts, Legends Cars, Late Models, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: First year

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