I am Michai Stephens, the eldest of three sons and I am a first generation racing driver. I was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. The city has generated many great talents that have set sail on their own life’s journey. Just as those before me, I grew up with a vision, and at 23 years old, my vision has become my reality.
School was never easy for me, but while I learned basic skills, I also learned how to cope with and overcome obstacles. I attended Warren Cherry Pre-School, Martin Luther King Lab School, Evanston Township High School, and finally Arizona State University, where I was an Industrial Design major. As each level brought a new set of challenges, I strove to put my best foot forward; giving all became second nature.
My passion has forever been to become a racing driver. Not one member of my family, or anyone I knew in my community, shared this passion. They tell me I hopped onto my two-wheeler at the age of two and never looked back! But I never talked about my dream; there was such a strong improbability of such a thing happening. Little did I know that I would be able to pursue my dream.
Concluding my freshman year at ASU, I faced a crossroad. At that moment my heart spoke its greatest desire. To become a professional racing driver is what I had always yearned for; I knew there would never be a better time than now. But taking a detour from school meant aligning with yet another path to success. I chose The Mazda Road to Indy, a ladder system designed for racing’s brightest talents. America is the only place in the world that offers a scholarship at every level of open wheel racing.
I began to prepare myself. I attended Skip Barber Racing School, and then competed against 33 participants in an international competition. Selections were based on performance in two and three-day advanced racing courses. I drove those few days with tremendous heart and soul…and won!
When speaking with kids now, I express the importance of staying on track in school. I encourage them to look within themselves and recognize their own passion. Fortunately, I have learned that there is no better way to live. When every morning you wake up knowing you’re going to be spending that day doing what you love, you can’t help smiling!
I am fully aware of the many tragedies in the world, along with the constant struggles found in households everywhere. I very much want to give back and help the young hearts and minds of the next generation flourish. Setting a good example for my community is a privilege. One day I will help change the world one small step at a time.
Pursuing my goal of becoming the best racing driver I can will be an ongoing battle, one that takes time, dedication and experience. My prize for winning the 2013 Skip Barber Racing School IndyCar Academy Shootout was participation in 16 races held nationwide in the summer of 2014. A scholarship valued at $200,000, however it is now time to take that next step! With a yearly budget ranging from $150,000 – $200,000 not including travel expenses and crash damage.
My passion is expensive, my goal is priceless. Ain’t it crazy to want to be a race car driver? Well…that’s my story…and hopefully with your help, I’ll accomplish my goal.