Michael Galati’s Racing Career
Michael Galati was born in Sicily and started racing go-karts in Florence, Italy when he was a little boy.
He fell in love with auto racing when he was 12yrs old when he attended his first auto race, The Targa Florio, in Palermo, Sicily. Race cars raced on city roads and through tiny mountain towns. Spectators actually sat on or next to the road during the race. Michael became enamored by the cars, the speeds and the racing itself, and would attend all the car races throughout Italy.
Michael’s love of cars led him to his first job at an auto repair shop in Florence. Michael began working for Nani Galli, a former F1 driver, when he was 16. There he worked on Alfa Romeos. While working at the shop, Michael had the opportunity to crew for Rinoldo Drovandi and helped him win the 1979 European Championship. He eventually began working for Drovandi, and had the opportunity to start racing as a hobby. Michael moved to America in 1980, and his dream of racing as a career finally became a reality.
He started his racing career in SCCA in 1987, in the SCCA Showroom Stock series, which is the grass roots of racing. In this series, drivers race stock cars with minor modifications for safety. There were 2 different categories: SSB, SSC. After winning regional and divisional races here, top-drivers from 112 regions in the United States are invited to participate in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in Atlanta Georgia.
Michael did not have a team in those days and he built, raced and repaired the cars all by himself. He started with a 1985 VW Golf G.T.I. He won the very first race he ever started and set the track record at Nelson Ledges! Accruing multiple racing wins, Michael began winning regional championships and national races. He won rookie of the year in 1987, and went on to win 5 National Championships. He also has 2 fourth place National Championships under his belt. Michael also won the President’s Club highest and most prestigious honor in 1994, the SCCA Presidential Cup Award, awarded to that year’s top race car driver. That year he also won Driver of the Year honors once again. From 1987 to 1996, Michael started 63 pole positions, won over 70 races, had 24 top five finishes, and set over 40 track records in SSC,SSB and IMSA. He also won 4 Nelson Ledges 24 hour Endurance races, and 2 12-Hours of Sebring titles.
In 1996, he began racing for the SPEED World Challenge racing series, or Pirelli Word Challenge as it is known today. This is North Americas top production car based racing championship. It has road racing venues all over the country, utilizing race prepped cars that you see on the streets every day. This is the only racing series to utilize standing starts. It consisted of 3 categories: GT, and TOURING. GT cars have horse power ranging from 425-525hp, such as Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, Vipers. TOURING have horse power ranging from 230-260hp, such as Honda, VW, BMW, Mazda. Races are 50 minutes sprint races and when the lights go green-it is nonstop racing to the checkered flag!
In Speed World Challenge, Michael started 158 races, and accumulated 24 wins, 57 podium finishes, 89 top 5 finishes and 118 top 10 finishes. He has won 5 SPEED Driver World Championships, two 2ND place World Championships, one 3RD place Word Championship, two 4TH place World Championships, one 5TH place World Championship, one 6TH place World Championship, and one 8TH place World Championship. He also set 5 track records in this series.
Since winning that first race, he has had a very distinguished and impressive racing career. Michael has raced all over the country for some of the top manufacturers in the world including Acura, Audi, Honda, KIA, Mazda, Mercedes, Toyota, Porsche, and Volvo. He has collectively won well over 110 races, and has stood at the top of the podium at many of North America’s legendary circuits including: Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Daytona, Mosport, Sebring, and Trois Rivieres. He has also set over 50 track records. His career and impressive talent been highlighted in many racing magazines such as Road and Track, Auto Week, and Motor trend.
In February of 2015, Michael was inducted into the SCCA Neohio Hall of Fame for these outstanding achievements in racing.
Racing by Years
SHOWROOM STOCK SSB, SSC
- 1985 1983 VW Golf G.T.I.
- 1989: 1989 Toyota MR-2
- 1990: 1990 Honda Civic
- 1991: 1991 Mazda Protégé
- 1992-1995: 1992 Mazda Miata
- Honda Accord
REAL-TIME RACING: Speed World Challenge, Touring Car
- 1996 Honda Prelude
- 1997-1998 Acura Integra-Type R
GALATI RACING: Speed World Challenge, Touring Car
- 1999 Acura Integra-Type R
CHAMPION RACING (AUDI of NORTH AMERICA): Speed World Challenge, GT
- 2000-2002 2000 Audi S-4
- 2003-2004 2003 Audi RS-6
AUTOHAUS RACING: Speed World Challenge, Touring Car
- 2003 Mercedes C230
AT SPEED MOTORSPORTS: Speed World Challenge, GT
- 2005 Volvo S-60 AWD
K-PAX RACING: Speed World Challenge, GT
- 2007 Porsche 911 GT3
- 2008 Porsche 911 GT3
TINDOL MOTORSPORTS: Speed World Challenge, Touring
- 2006 Mazda 6
KIA RACING: Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
- 2011 Kia Forte Koup
KIA RACING: Pirelli World Challenge, GTS
- 2012 Kia Optima
Racing Biography by Years
1987-1989 SCCA SHOWROOM STOCK
In 1987, Michael started his racing career in Neohio SCCA Regional Racing. He built a 1985 VW Golf GTI and would drive his race car to the track, race, and drive it back home. In those days, he was his own mechanical crew when needed. Michael won the very first race he ever started at Nelson Ledges. He went on to win 8 races and set 2 track records that year, including the Regional Championship and 2 National races. Winning Rookie of the Year honors, he qualified to race in the National Championship at Road Atlanta in Georgia but did not attend.
In 1988, with 3 wins and 3 track records for the year, Michael qualified his golf again to be invited to the National Championship, and finished in the top 10.
In 1989, Michael built a Toyota MR-2. With 9 wins, 6 top five finishes and 6 track records he won the division which qualified him to run for his third National Championship. That year, Michael qualified on the pole position and won his First National Championship. He also gave Toyota their first ever Manufacturers Championship.
1990-1995 SCCA SHOWROOM STOCK
IMSA Firehawk Endurance
1990 brought another great year for Michael. He built a Honda Civic to defend his championship title. Back again at Nationals, he qualified second and went on to win his 2ND National Championship. That year, he also won the Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance Race.
In 1991, Michael built a Mazda Protégé to race for yet another title. Although he won the division championship that year, he finished in the top 10 for the National Championship. That same year, Michael started racing part time in the IMSA FIREHAWK Endurance Series for Honda of North America Racing Team (HART).
In 1992, Michael built a Mazda Miata. He won the division championship and with 9 wins and 3 top five finishes, he went on to finish 4TH in the National Championship. That year he set 6 track records.
In 1993 and 1994, Michael was still racing in both series. Sweeping the divisional in SSC in 1993, Michael piloted his Mazda Miata on to win his 3RD National Championship after starting at the pole positon. That year he won the 12 hours of Sebring driving a Honda Prelude in the IMSA FIREHAWK series. He also won a second Nelson Ledges Raceway 24 Hour Endurance race.
In 1994, Michael finished the year with 10 wins and he set 4 track records in SSC. Starting on the pole again, he went on to win his 4TH National SSC Championship. He also won the prestigious Presidential Cup Award that year, endorsed by President Clinton. He also won Driver of the year honors, and a third Nelson Ledges 24 Endurance Race. In the IMSA FIREHAWK, Michael went on to win a second consecutive 12 Hours of Sebring.
1995 brought a full season ride in the IMSA FIREHAWK Endurance Series. Racing for Honda of North America (HART) Michael drove a Honda Accord. With 4 wins and 5 top five finishes, he finishing 2ND place in the Championship to his teammate. His efforts helped Honda win the Manufacturers Championship. He also raced in the Showroom Stock SSC and SSB series, driving his Mazda Miata. Michael had 6 wins and set 6 track records for that year on his way to finishing 4TH in the National Championship. He went on to win a fourth Nelson Ledges 24 Hours Endurance Race.
1996-98 REALTIME RACING
Speed World Challenge-Touring Car
In 1996, Michael signed on with Real Time Racing to drive a Honda Prelude in the SPEED World Challenge racing series. In that first year, he had 2 wins and 6 top five finishes, including 4 podiums. He ended the season clinching his first SPEED World Challenge Drivers Championship, as well as Rookie of the Year honors. He also drove his Mazda Miata in the Showroom Stock SSC series, where he set 1 track record for the year.
Michael pulled double duty again in 1997, racing in the SPEED World Challenge series for Real-Time Racing and in SSB. In Speed World Challenge, he finished the season with 1 win, 8 top 5 finishes in the first 8 races of the season, including 7 podiums. That year he finished 3RD in the Drivers World Championship. He also raced in the Showroom Stock SSC series, driving a Mazda Miata. In SSB, he not only made it to the SCCA National Championship, but won his 5TH Championship title.
In 1998, with Real-Time Racing, he clinched his 2ND SPEED Drivers World Championship on the strengths of 1 win, 5 pole positions, 6 podium finishes and 5 track records for the year.
1999 GALATI RACING
Speed World Challenge-Touring Car
Michael had always had a dream of owning is own race team, and in 1999 that dream came to fruition. He formed his own team with close friends Larry Dick, Wayne Ward and Matt Buckley. They built an Acura Integra Type R in 6 weeks from the ground up. Michael started the first race in second place at Mosport and won the race. He went on to win a record tying 4 consecutive wins to start the season. Capturing 2 pole positions that year, he had 8 top 5 finishes including 5 podiums. He went on to win his 3RD SPEED World Challenge Drivers Championship title. Success was even sweeter as it was on the strengths of his own team.
2000-2004 CHAMPION RACING/AUDI of NORTH AMERICA
Speed World Challenge - GT
In 2000, Michael’s huge racing achievements had not gone unnoticed. Michael received a call from Audi of North America inviting him to drive their Audi S-4 being built for the SPEED World Challenge series. He became part of the Champion Racing Team, a division of Champion Motors, based in Pompano Beach, Florida. His racing teammate was Derek Bell. Michael missed the first race because the car wasn’t ready, then there was no stopping him. Driving the Audi S-4, his led Audi to their first ever Speed World Challenge victory in Las Vegas. He finished the year with 1 win, 5 top 5 finishes, including 3 podiums, and ultimately finished 2ND in the Drivers World Championship.
2001 proved to be a great year for Michael as he captured 4 wins and 10 top ten finishes, 7 of them on the podium that year. He went on to win his record fourth Drivers World Championship piloting the Audi S-4. That year, he helped Audi secure their first ever Manufacturer’s Championship.
On the strengths of 3 wins, 8 top 5 finishes, Michael went on to win yet another historic Drivers World Championship in 2002. With that win, he became the only driver in the series history to ever win consecutive championship titles in both the Touring class (1998-1999), and the GT class (2001-2002). He continued to set records by becoming the only drive to ever win a record 5 championship titles in the SPEED World Challenge series history.
In the 2003 racing season, Michael drove a newly designed Audi RS-6. Racking up 3 podium finishes and 2 top 10 finishes, he went on to finish 8TH in the drivers’ standings. His efforts helped Audi win their second Manufacturers Championship.
In 2004, driving the Audi RS-6 Michael had 3 wins and 5 top 5 finishes. He went on to finish 2ND in the Drivers Championship. His efforts helped Audi win their third Manufacturers Championship that year.
2005-2008 RACING SEASONS
Speed World Challenge - GT and Touring Car
On, June 25, 2005, Michael’s dream of racing in his hometown of Cleveland came true. Racing for Autohaus Motorsports, Michael drove a Mercedes C230 at the Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. That year, he also helped develop an AWD Volvo S-60 with AT Speed Motorsports in the Speed World Challenge GT series. He also drove that car at the Cleveland Grand Prix, where he finished an impressive 5th place. In only 3 GT starts, he finished the season with 1 top five finish and 2 top ten finishes.
Also in 2005 Microsoft announced the complete car roster for its critically acclaimed driving simulator for Xbox, Forza Motorsport. Forza Motorsport debuted more than 230 cars from top car manufacturers for gamers to own, customize, upgrade and race. Michael’s championship 2002 Audi S-4 with his name on it was part of the vehicle roster in the game!
The 2006 racing year also brought another developmental year for Michael, lending his expertise and incredible talent again to the AT Speed Motorsports racing program. Starting only 5 races that year, Michael piloted his Volvo S-60 to a podium finish the very first race, finishing 3RDat MID OHIO Racetrack. Racing in soggy conditions at Mosport Raceway in Canada, Michael drove his Volvo S-60 to victory circle and won by over a minute lead. He completely lapped the field consisting of Porsche, Cadillac, Vipers and Corvettes up to 2ND place. This dominant victory gave Volvo of North America their historic first ever racing win in North America, which they captured in a full spread newspaper ad in USA Today on September 18, 2006. Also this year, Michael raced for the Grand Am Endurance Racing Series driving an Acura.
2007 and 2008 proved to be very busy racing years for Michael. Pulling double duty, he began racing a Porsche 911 GT3 for K-Pax Racing in the SPEED World Challenge GT series, and also a Mazda 6 for Tindol Motors ports in the SPEED World Challenge TOURING series. Both races were the same weekends, and usually back to back. Michael would literally hop out of one car and into the next for practices, qualifying and the races themselves.
In 2007, driving the Porsche 911 GT3, Michael had 1 pole position start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He finished the year with 3 podiums and 6 top 5 finishes. He came in 4TH place in the Drivers World Championship for GT. Driving the Mazda in Touring car, Michael qualified the car in pole position at Road Atlanta and set the track record for the fastest lap. He went on to win the race and helped Mazda clinch the Manufacturers Championship. Earning 1 top 5 and 3 top 10 finishes that year, he went on to finish 8TH in the Drivers Championship.
In 2008, Michael continued to drive in both classes. In GT, Michael collected 7 top ten spots including 3 podium finishes. He finished 5TH in the Drivers Championship. He and team mate Randy Pobst took K-Pax racing to a Manufacturers Championship in their Porsches. In Touring, Michael had 3 podium finishes, including 2 wins. He finished the year 6TH in the Drivers Championship.
2011-2012 KIA/KINETIC MOTORSPORTS
GRAND AM Series
In 2011, Michael came out of retirement after a call from KIA/Kinetic Motorsports to co-drive a KIA Forte Koup in the GRAND AM Continental Sports Car Challenge series. The Continental Sports Car Challenge is a 2 hour and 30 minute race, with 2 drivers and 1 driver change in the race. He joined the team after the second race. Michael became part of history once again on April 9, 2011. Together with co-driver Nic Jonssen, the duo gave Kia their first ever North American racing win at the Barber 200 in Alabama.
Throughout the season, the duo captured 2 wins, and finished in the top 10 in all but one race. On Sept 17, 2011 Michael qualified the car in 3RD place at MID OHIO Racetrack. Among a field of over 30 competitors, he maneuvered to second place in spite of losing the power steering early on in the race before the drivers change. Michael’s efforts helped his co-driver Nic Jonssen win the Drivers Championship, and KIA/Kinetic also win the Team Championship that day. This was a historic win for Kia, as it was the first time Kia had ever entered the racing arena in North America.
Fresh off of his 2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Team title, Galati returned to Kia/Kinetic Motorsports to apply his in-depth knowledge of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships to the first-year turbocharged Optima racing program. This was the first time the Korean manufacturer ever raced in the World Challenge series. Michael had his 24th career pole position start, and gave Kia its historic first ever pole position in Mosport, Canada. That day he also broke the Mosport track record for the fastest qualifying lap, and went on to win the race. He finished the season with 2 podium finishes, including that historic win, and 11 top 10 finishes. He ended the season 4TH in the Drivers Championship.
Michael also had double duty again for part of the 2012 year, returning to the Grand Am Continental Sports Car Racing Series. He filled in to co-drive the #12 Kia Forte with Matthew Pombo while Mark Pombo continued his recovery from a devastating accident at Road America. He joined KIA/Kinetic racing for the last 3 races of the season starting with The Brickyard in Indianapolis. Michael was again part of history as this was the first time a Korean manufacturer ever raced at Indianapolis.
Also in 2012, KIA/Kinetic Motorsports and Michael were part of a Discovery Channel documentary titled “Birth of a Kia”. This film followed the building of the newly designed turbo Optima, and shadowed the racing team on their racing weekend in Detroit, Michigan at Belle Isle raceway.
In 2014, Michael was included in a book released by David Tremayne titled “Champion Racing-a Little Bit of Magic. This book is about the Champion Racing team and how one man’s passion, David Maraj, became one of the most successful private sports car racing teams of the modern era. Winning in multiple racing arenas from Speed World Challenge to the prototype series in American Les Mans, this book chronicles the teams journey to ultimately winning 5 ALMS Championships, 3 Speed World Challenge Championships and 6 AUDI Manufacture titles.Michael’s career with Champion Racing is captured in candid stories,photos and interviews highlighting his 4 very successful years with the team in the Speed World Challenge series, including his 2 world championships, and his efforts in helping AUDI secure their first ever Manufacture Championship.
Michael’s career with Champion Racing is captured in candid stories,photos and interviews highlighting his 4 very successful years with the team in the Speed World Challenge series, including his 2 world championships, and his efforts in helping AUDI secure their first ever Manufacture Championship.
Michael was inducted into the SCCA Neohio racing Hall of Fame for his incredible achievements and success in the racing arena.
Racing Career Highlights
- 1987 SSC Rookie of the year
- 1989 Valvoline Runoffs SSC - National Champion
- 1990 Valvoline Runoffs SSC - National Champion
Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance - WIN
- 1992 Valvoline Runoffs SSC - 4TH Place
- 1993 Valvoline Runoffs SSC - National Champion
Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance - WIN
12 Hours of Sebring - WIN
- 1994 Valvoline Runoffs SSC - National Champion
SCCA Presidential Cup Award
Driver of the Year
12 Hours of Sebring - WIN
Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance - WIN
- 1995 IMSA FIREHAWK - 2ND Place
Valvoline Runoffs SSC - 4TH Place
Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance - WIN
- 1996 Speed World Challenge Touring Champion
Rookie of the Year.
- 1997 Speed World Challenge Touring - 3RD PlaceValvoline Runoffs SSC - National Champion
- 1998 Speed World Challenge Touring Drivers Champion
- 1999 Speed World Challenge Touring- Drivers Champion
- 2000 Speed World Challenge GT - 2ND Place
- 2001 Speed World Challenge GT - Drivers Champion.
- 2002 Speed World Challenge GT - Drivers Champion
- 2003 SPEED World Challenge GT - 8TH Place
- 2004 Speed World Challenge GT - 2NDPlace
- 2007 Speed World Challenge GT - 4TH Place
- 2008 Speed World Challenge GT - 5TH Place
Speed World Challenge Touring - 6TH Place
- 2011 Grand Am-Continental Tire - Team Championship
- 2012 Speed World Challenge GT - 4TH Place
Racing Career Statistics
SSB / SSC:
- Wins: 73
- Top-5: 24
- Pole Positions: 63
- Track Records: 42
SPEED World Challenge:
- Starts: 158
- Wins: 24
- Podium: 57
- Top-5 : 89
- Top-10: 118
- Pole Positions: 24
- Fastest lap: 17
- Fastest qualifier: 23
- Track record: 5
Michael's Racing Photos
Michael's Racing Videos
- 2000-2004 CHAMPION RACING
- 2012 KIA OPTIMA-KIA RACING: LONG BEACH
- 1992 MAZDA MIATA-SSC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
- 2004 AUDI RS6-LAGUNA SECA RACE TRACK
- 2011 KIA RACING
- 2004 AUDI RS-6-CHAMPION RACING
- 2012 KIA MICHAEL GALATI INTERVIEW
- 2011 KIA RACING
- 2001 AUDI S-4: MONTERAY RACEWAY
- 2012 KIA OPTIMA: KIA RACING
- 2007 PORSCHE- KPAX RACING
- 2007 PORCHE-KPAX RACING
- 2007 MAZDA 6-ROAD ATLANTA – TINDOL MOTORSPORTS
- 2006 VOLVO S-60 MICROSOFT FORZA 2 VIDEO GAME
- 2012 DOCUMENTARY BIRTH OF A KIA: KIA RACING