John-Michael Shenette has one foot grounded real world racing, the other in sim racing. Or is it the other way around? For in the case of the Connecticut’s Shenette, the boundaries between the real and virtual racing are blurred. And that’s a good thing. A former iRacing.com marketing intern, past Late Model and SK Modified divisional champion, Shenette assists in the administration of the iRacing.com DWC. He is also president of the Short Track Pro Cup Series (www.stprocup.com), iRacing’s longest-running league, and creator of Dynasty Motorsports.
On the other hand (or foot, as it were), Shenette has nearly two decades of real world racing under his belt, having raced Super Late Models, Trucks, Pro Stocks, IMCA Modifieds, karts andquarter midgets, with plans to compete in PASS North races and the Granite State Pro Stock Series at Thompson International Speedway, Canaan Fairgrounds and Seekonk Speedway this year, not to mention the prestigious 24 Hours of Lemons at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (with fellow iRacers Jeremy Davis, Eric Jones and Douglas Comier0). Shenette also stands at the intersection of the real and virtual worlds of racing, working with Landon Cassill to insure the success of the popular Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge.
Q: How long have you been sim racing?
A: I began iRacing in 2008 as a beta tester/marketing intern for the company. Prior to iRacing I raced online with NASCAR 2002 and 2003 season, and offline with Bill Elliot’s NASCAR Racing, NASCAR ’99, NASCAR Racing 4 and NASCAR Racing 3.
Q: What attracted you to iRacing?
A: To be honest, I initially contacted the company regarding a potential sponsorship opportunity. After meeting a few employees and seeing what the product was all about, I accepted a position in the marketing department. iRacing is hands down the most realistic simulation software I have ever found, and I will continue to support iRacing in any way possible.
Q: What are favorite iRacing cars/tracks?
A: I mainly race the Late Model and Impala B car, but do dip into the truck and SK modifieds from time to time. Overall my favorite car would be the Late Model at Oxford Plains, an answer that you probably don’t see very often.
Q: What do you like most about iRacing?
A; I really enjoy the opportunity to race on tracks where I run in real life. Next season we hope to race at Speedweeks in New Smyrna, and the opportunity to test a similar car on the same track should help get me ready.
Q: What would you change about iRacing?
A: I would place my focus on updating some of the tracks that have recently changed like Phoenix, and fix some of the issues with bumps like Thompson and Homestead. After that I would focus on integrating heat race style qualifying into a single race server, and develop a garage area that displays images and graphs so an advanced setup person can see the changes. This would help to develop coil bind setups and give you advantages seen on a pull-down rig and shock/spring testers.
Q: How many hours a week do you spend on iRacing?
A: I race mainly in leagues, focusing most of my time on the Short Track Pro Cup League. I race in the Fender Sheetz/Impact Graphics Premier Division on Sundays and the RH2Way SK Modified Series on Wednesdays. I also race in a couple other late model, truck and Impala B COT series leagues on other nights.
“My favorite car would be the Late Model at Oxford Plains, an answer that you probably don’t see very often.”
Q: Tell us about the paint schemes on your helmet/car(s) . . .
A: My helmet is a poor attempt to render my real life helmet, a custom airbrushed job from Indosil Art in Rock Hill, SC. My car’s match their real life counterparts, a simply all white body with the Dynasty Motorsports logo on the hood, and the distinguished flat black and red number 82.
Q: What other sim racing activities (Forza, Gran Turismo, etc.) do you do?
Q: What are your favorite video games?
Q: What is your most memorable iRacing moment?
A: My most memorable iRacing moment is more of an ongoing event. I took over the Short Track Pro Cup, STProCup.com, from Mark Royer a little more than a year ago. In that time we have seen drivers come and go, but most of all we’ve been able to go back to our roots and build a community focused on short track racing, and have formed a solid core group of members. I find personal satisfaction knowing that I help organize a community for all different drivers from all different walks of life. We have drivers as young as 14, and as old as 65+. We have war veterans, real world drivers, small-business owners, college students and everyone in between. I am very thankful for the opportunity to keep STPC thriving, and it will forever be my most memorable iRacing moment(s).
Q: What is the iRacing moment you’d love to forget?
A: This is a loaded question but I will describe an STPC Late Model East series race from nearly 2 years ago. We were racing at Lanier, and I was running second and slowly gaining on Jeremy Davis, the leader. When it was time to go, I caught Jeremy, made the pass and took the lead. Coming down to the wire on the last turn of the last lap Jeremy got to my back bumper and turned me sideways. We both ended-up fifth and sixth or something like that, and Wayne Matherne took down the win. I still can’t forget this race.
Q: What car/track would you like to see iRacing add to the service?
A: The Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts would be one of the best additions to the service. Seekonk is a small, ¼ mile track that provides some awesome racing. The Pro All Stars Series visits Seekonk annually, and the opportunity to practice and race at this track would be awesome.
Q: What person, living or dead, do you most admire? Why? A: This is more of a personal answer, but I most admire my grandfather (dad’s side). I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I’ve been able to form an image of him over time. He was a World War II veteran and held his FAA Private Pilot’s License. When I think back to my real life racing career, I feel as though I have missed out on the multi-generation aspect of the sport that so many drivers get to enjoy. When I think about him, I know he would be at every race regardless, and would do all he could to help put the car on the track.
Q: What’s your favorite real world racing series?
A: I enjoy watching Super Late Models the most. In the past year I have been to a host of PASS and NASCAR races, along with the Snowball Derby in Florida and “The Race” at North Wilkesboro.
Q: Name the title of the most recent book you read.
A: Definitely a textbook for my recently completed Masters Degree. Name and title would be unknown as there were way too many!”
Q: Name of your favorite movie/TV show?
A: Movies include The Godfather and Days of Thunder, but my favorite TV shows would include Hillbilly Handfishin’, Tosh.O and anything racing related.
Q: How many of your close friends are iRacing members?
A: I have been fortunate enough to develop close friends through iRacing. Jeremy Davis, Jeff Conover, Tony Dugan and Wayne Matherne are all people I talk to on a regular basis and met through the service.
Q: Has competing with iRacers all around the world influenced your opinions/outlook on life/world events? How?
A: I completed my undergraduate studies at Bentley University outside of Boston, and can attest to the importance of keeping an open mind when engaging with people from around the world. Bentley like iRacing, is a multi-national institution with people from many different cultures. I have learned to keep an open mind for things outside my “comfort zone,” and have actually expanded my interests because of this. Ten years ago I would have never eaten the foods, listened to the music or entertained the news/tv shows that I do today. I can attribute some of my more worldly views to the exposure generated from racing with different drivers in different cultures.