Michael Bland: Determined to Better Himself

Michael Bland: Determined to Better Himself

Michael Bland didn’t grow up in a racing family. He doesn’t have major backing, a big crew, or the trendiest chassis brand in the field. Yet, for what he lacks, he makes up with sheer grit and determination to be better than he was last race. That’s resulted in success. It helped make him one of the favorites for Saturday’s $10,000-to-win, American All-Star Series Presented by PPM Racing Products event at Mountain Motorsports Park in Isom, Kentucky.

A Year of Change

Bland’s burning desire to improve his situation has taken him places. In 2020, he moved from the small town of Pineville, West Virginia, to Dandridge, Tennessee. Bland took up a job at a rock quarry, looking to chisel away a brighter future for himself. In his move, he brought his modest dirt late model operation with him.

Last year presented Bland with more than a change in job and location. He switched from the 2011 Rocket chassis he had raced his entire dirt late model career to a used Victory Race Cars chassis once raced by Billy Moyer.

“I would have loved to be able to go with a Rocket, but I couldn’t spend as much as it would have cost to go that route,” Bland, 25, said. “I was scrolling through Facebook one day, and saw one of Billy’s cars come up. [I thought,] ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”

Bland befriended Moyer, a National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee. This past off-season, he bought a new Victory Race Cars chassis.

“They build a really nice car,” said Bland. “Price-wise, I could buy two of these for what I could buy a Longhorn or Rocket for.”

Two of the Most Finite Resources

Bland spent the off-season swapping parts off his old Victory Race Cars chassis to the new bare chassis. In April, in his second race with the new car, Bland won. He bested one of the toughest customers to beat at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia — Booger Brooks. (See “Booger Brooks: The Racer You Can’t Forget”.)

While Michael Bland knows the path to victory, two things constantly stand in his way — time and money.

“I wish I could race more,” said Bland. “I have a crazy work schedule. The last couple of months I worked 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

“I’m down here by myself. My dad [Tommy Bland] isn’t able to come down until a Friday or a Thursday. He has a busy schedule, too, working hundreds of hours of overtime [as a supervisor for a power company]. He’s also four hours away [in West Virginia].”

On the money-side of things, Bland makes the most of his limited resources.

“We try to buy as little as we can and make everything we can by ourselves, because it helps us buy more tires, more fuel, and go to more races,” Bland said. “When we get to race, we don’t have any spares. We’re on one set of shocks and if we mess a shock up, we’re going home. I have to choose wisely on where I can spend my money, and how much I can race.”

Doing It On His Own

While Moyer serves as an invaluable resource of knowledge, Bland tries not to lean on him too much.

“[Billy has] been really good to work with,” said Bland. “He even calls and checks up on us. We try not to [call him often]. We want to learn on our own, because if you keep on relying on somebody, you’re never going to make yourself any better.”

Whatever Michael Bland is doing, it seems to be working. In the several events he’s raced, he has two wins, including the last American All-Star Series event at Mountain Motorsports Park.

The American All-Star Series Presented by PPM Racing Products heads to two tracks this weekend. On Friday, July 2, the American All-Star Series visits Crossville Speedway in Tennessee. The following day, on Saturday, July 3, the tour holds a $10,000-to-win special at Mountain Motorsports Park in Isom, Kentucky.

Bland said he most likely won’t make Friday’s show, but count him in on Mountain Motorsports Park.

“We’re getting better,” said Bland. “And, you got to say hungry to get better.”

Outside Groove Note of Transparency: Outside Groove is a sponsor of the American All-Star Series. The American All-Star Series paid for the production of this article. The content was not subject to the approval of the American All-Star Series.