It's not uncommon for recent high school or college graduates to take an "off-year" after completing their studies to travel or wind down.
For Michael McCann Jr. – a recent graduate of Ohio University – he wanted to go sports car racing.
"When I graduated, I had full anticipation of accepting a job at an IT company in Columbus," said McCann, who graduated with a degree in Science and Management Information Systems. "A couple of days before Christmas, my dad came to me. My dad and I always had a mutual agreement with racing where, you know, keep your nose clean, stay out of trouble, get good grades, do well in school.
"He said that now is the time to go racing if you want to go racing. I told him that I don't want to look back in 10 years and be like, ‘I wish I would've taken that opportunity.’ I held off on the corporate life, and I started doing this, and I instantly fell in love with it."
McCann Racing joins the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge paddock in the No. 8 Audi R8 GT4. McCann – son of the former GT racer with the same moniker – will be sharing driving duties with a fellow Midwesterner, Britt Casey Jr.
Hailing from Illinois, Casey returns full time to the series after his championship-winning season in TCR in 2018. He completed a partial season in 2019, which yielded two pole positions, one win and two additional podium finishes in just four starts.
"It's rewarding to be back in the paddock full time after a successful, but partial, season last year being in an Audi RS3 TCR car again," said Casey. "We still found a lot of successes, but the move up to GS, I think, is something Audi wanted to see in terms of a ladder progression, as one of the Audi customer racing offerings of TCR, GT4 and GT3 and GT2 machinery. I know they're excited about that. McCann has long been an Audi team as well, and it was a good fit."
It can't be argued that the program as a whole is a good fit. Nearly all of the crew is Midwest-based, and Casey himself is nearing his college graduation from Ohio's Miami University.
"It's a Midwest team," said Casey. "Pretty much everyone on the team is from the Midwest, so we all get along in the same way and laugh at the same jokes. A lot of mutual friends and a lot of mutual experiences that we can all relate to. It's fun. It's is a cool team to be on because everyone is cool people."
His co-driver – who he met in World Challenge last year – echoed the same sentiments.
"The first thing with bringing other people in is that you just hope they get along," said McCann. "The first night (at the Roar Before the Rolex 24), we're all working together and we go out to dinner and it was perfect. It was like a happy marriage. Everything is going well so far, I can't complain. Having Britt as a teammate, that's huge for me. When we were teammates for one race last year, we just kicked things off."
The duo is hoping to kick off the 2020 Pilot Challenge season with a bang. Although they’re new to the grid, they're not necessarily lagging behind the veteran teams.
"There are little things that new teams don't think about, but we have a lot of guys that have previous experience with IMSA like myself that are on the team," said Casey. "We all know the little elements that go into a championship that may be a new team doesn't think about. Our goal is to be upfront every single race as much as we can.
"We're expecting to do well, not in a big-headed manner, but with a calculated approach. We have already started to recognize the little things we need to do to make sure we're taken as an established team, rather than a first-year team in IMSA because it's not going to be that way."
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season begins with the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, January 24. The race will be streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold beginning at 1 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio commentary is also available at RadioLeMans.com and IMSA.com.