Dreams are difficult to chase down. They start out big and tend to shrink over time to fit with the reality of growing up. We dream of being astronauts and movie stars. Master chefs and race car drivers. Usually, these dreams are replaced by practicalities. Occasionally, dreams come true…
Michael Clemente was 5 when his dreams began to take shape…
“It began in my backyard. I was driving dad’s golf buggy when I accidentally crashed into the fence. From then onwards, every time dad wasn’t home, I would try and sneak the golf buggy out to go for a drive, but most of the time I’d get caught.”
Michael’s dad knew better than to try to deny his son’s impulses.
A trip to the dodgem cars, resulting in a greater need for speed, “all I wanted to do was go faster, and as a result dad bought a second hand go kart off eBay.”
Michael has never looked back.
Developing his skills and passion at the Geelong Go Kart Club, Michael found himself back where it all started on Febraury 9th, launching the next step in his racing career – his race-ready Honda Civic – with his very own team Michael Clemente Motorsport.
“A lot of people in the team have been with me since day one, so it’s really cool we’re running our own team,” Clemente said.
Having experienced success in the Excel racing series in recent years, the 18-year-old won an Excel series national championship and was named the CAMS rising star winner. The logical next step was TCR racing. The Point Cook local will make his TCR debut on the biggest stage imaginable – at Albert Park on Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend.
So, what else is there to know about this young up and comer?
Family means everything to Michael. With 2 sisters and plenty of cousins, life is never quiet:
“I’m definitely a big family guy!” Food is also high on his list of priorities, “Being Italian, my favourite food is pizza, and I’m the pineapple type too! I’m legally not allowed to leave nonna’s without eating more than 2 plates of food!”
When Michael isn’t racing cars, he can be found hanging out with his pet ducks – Barbra, Jerry and Bart. Add to that 3 rabbits – Lucky, Peter and Roberto, 2 dogs – Summer and Winter and 2 guinea pigs – Klive and Lesley! If racing falls through, he can always open a petting zoo.
For now, Michael’s focus is to steadily build on his career in racing, but he is realistic about the road ahead, “I understand that the chances of making it to Formula 1 are not high, and therefore if I’m unable to make it, then running my own race team in TCR for the next couple of years, and gradually building my team up to racing in different categories in Australia is what my goal will be.”
Michael is also focused on giving back to the community he has loved being part of. Born and raised in the western suburbs, he understands that nothing is achieved in isolation:
“Joining forces with the Laverton and Point Cook communities – communities my family have been part of always – I think if I were able to share my story, it might help inspire people to go after their dreams, as my dream is becoming real. I feel that giving back to the community is one of the biggest things I can do, as everyone is constantly helping me out, and I would honestly just love to start helping those who need it.”
The Laverton Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank has recently joined the Michael Clemente Motorsport team and is keen to assist Michael, not only on his road to success, but with his community work. Connection is at the heart of any community – Michael understands this, and is keen to build on as many connections as possible. Races are never won alone.
*photos provided by Michael Clemente and VATtrack Media