Michael Cooper was crowned as 2015 champion in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class, and following what was his best season to date, he spoke to The Checkered Flag.
Cooper drove the #10 Chevrolet Camaro for Blackdog Speed Shop and sealed the championship in his maiden full year in the class, having moved up from his previous home in the Touring Car classes.
“Winning the GTS title is still a little surreal,” he told TCF. “Obviously it’s my highest achievement yet, but what makes it even better is doing it with an amazing group of guys within the team. I can’t say enough about Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet for making it possible.”
He scored four wins throughout the season, his first at the second race of the Circuit of The Americas season-opener, but arguably his season did have some low points.
“The final result definitely doesn’t tell the whole story. It was really tough season, anybody that followed the series knows we struggled for pace up to the mid point in the year. I have to say the fight the entire team displayed throughout the whole year was unreal, I’m really glad the guys could be rewarded for their efforts.”
“Everything around me was new coming into the season, so I really did not know what to think. Our dominating win at the 2nd round opened my eyes and I knew we would be able to fight for the championship.”
Cooper’s team also runs a tuning shop, and so they use the same parts on their race cars as on the cars they modify. “I wouldn’t say it’s extra pressure, but extra motivation to show people how great the equipment Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet put on their cars,” he explained.
“I have to say, one of the most impressive things about this Z/28 is the factory brake assembly we run. Every piece is straight from the factory, all the way down to the brake pads. Knowing somebody can actually take this car from the showroom to the race track and wring its neck all day long is mind-blowing.”
Before moving to GTS, Cooper was racing in the TC classes, and has his sights on a higher category in the future. But between TC and GTS, he believes there is one major difference.
“The quantity of quality drivers in GTS is probably triple or quadruple what it was when I ran TC. That’s not to say TC isn’t competitive, but instead of having 3 or 4 drivers that can win races and fight for the championship, there are 15. That translates to competition that is much more fierce throughout the field, you are always racing somebody. In terms of the performance level from the car, getting some GT experience behind closed doors since I ran touring car made the jump a lot more manageable.”
“I’ve proven my capabilities in TC and now GTS, I think the next step, whenever that may be, would have to come in the form of a GT car. I have to be smart about it though, I won’t be jumping into just any GT car because it’s a GT car. It has to be the right circumstances to make it worthwhile.”
It isn’t just racing for Michael, though. He also thinks it is important to continue with his education alongside his racing career.
“When I am not racing I am finishing up my 2nd degree in Nutrition at Long Island University. I don’t want to be a one trick pony, I have a huge drive to do other things in my life than just race cars.”