When I took on this assignment I had no idea what to expect, especially being new to the series. My assigned driver could have been a big time winner, or like myself a rookie with no experience. So I'm a little nervous. I thought what if he has no record what can we talk about??? What a relief! It turns out Michael Lay is an intelligent, regular, down to earth guy. Who, I could tell, sensed I was nervous, and was very kind to me.
Lay and wife Natalie live in Clovis California with children Devin 16 and Samantha, (Sammy) 12. Lay is the owner of AirTech a successful refrigeration heating and appliance, plumbing business. So how does a man escape the hectic grind of every day business to achieve true Zen and reconnect to himself? What else, he climbs behind the wheel of a late model stock car and RACES. Lay’s biggest supporter, Natalie, makes sure he looks sharp and also packs enough food to see them through the weekend. Not being a fan of seeing her man beat and bang, some races she sits out, not to mention that many tracks are far away from home.
Lay started out drag racing in 1997 where he stayed for three years maybe one year too long?
Drag racing just not cutting it Lay started looking for something a little more, let’s say, exciting. He went to a Craftsman truck race at Madera and that was all she wrote. That was 1999.
Today while still enjoying an occasional truck race or two, Lay can be found at just about any short track where the late models run. This is his passion this is his pleasure. Supported by some of the best sponsors a driver could want WheelVintiques a Domain in racing in its own rights, Sign Max, they do all the decaling and San Joaquin Auto, supplies their parts. Lay’s team has everything it needs to succeed, surrounded by a crew of six, counting himself, crew chief Daryl Gordon, John Holt, brother Jim Lay, Brooks Lawrence, and Travis Powell, in a car built by Collins Motorsports. Gary Collins also acts as team manager and helps them with their car setups.
The car? Owned by Gary and Marion Collins and nicknamed the "Harvick car" was built for Kevin Harvick when he makes those rare appearances when the Nextel Cup series comes out west; the car has two first place finishes. It is also shared with Brandon Miller who runs in the Southwest Elite Series.
Lay has run at many tracks but when asked which track is his favorite without hesitation Lay says Mesa Marin, which offers less politics, a fast track and good people, what more could a driver want?
Not being the conventional race car driver Lay is not a slave to the point system. If you do well the points will take care of themselves. A strategy many teams employ. But to Lay it's all about the fun.” If we're not having fun we're not racing."
Lay and his team have competed on a limited basis this season and are currently fourteenth in points at Mesa Marin. With three top fives, and seven top tens it's easy to see they've got what it takes to win a championship but they're having too much fun to worry about such things, at least this year. Next year watch for a whole new attitude.
Oh they're still going to have fun just a little more focused. Wanting ultimately to reach the NASCAR Southwest Touring Series, Lay and the team are well on their way to reaching that goal.