Unbuckled: Getting to Know Mike Billado


Hometown: Essex, VT

Division: Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers

Car: Myers Container Services #8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2017 Season: Finished 6th in Flying Tiger points


What are your favorite non-racing hobbies?

I enjoy doing landscaping and stuff like that. I like to mow, I like building projects, and doing other improvements around the house. We’re wrapping up a few right now because we actually just sold it. We’re building a new house in Grand Isle this summer.

In the middle of racing season?

Yeah, not the best time. I didn’t think it through too much. We got caught up in the moment.

What do you do for work?

I work for Myers Containers. I actually owned the business before and then sold it to them in 2011, and Jeff Myers asked me to stay on as a consultant and driver, because I’m not too young to retire. Got to live the American Dream. (Laughs)

How long have you been involved in the industry?

My parents started the business back in the ’80s. My dad bought out another company that he worked for – he was given first rights on it. We grew it as a family-owned business to the point that, when we lost my father in 1999, we were able to keep it going and growing for quite a few more years. But it got to the point where it was just too much to handle by myself. Then Jeff came along and offered me a good deal, so I did a 9-month deal with him and stayed on after that, and it’s been going pretty well so far. He’s very supportive of my racing as well, and he’s never hesitated with anything I’ve ever asked for. He’s actually a pretty good friend, and I guess you can call him my boss too.

What are your current racing plans for 2018? Do you have any goals?

We’re going to run the full season in the Tigers again. Obviously with the Myers Triple Crown, we’re shooting to do a lot better in it this year than we did last year. We finished just outside the top-5 in the overall standings this year, and I guess our goal realistically is to try and get in that top-5. It’s pretty hard; we’ve got some pretty tough competition. I enjoy racing with them a lot, but there’s a group of guys there that are hard to beat every week. We’ve love to contend for the championship if it ever happens, but we’re going to shoot for a top-5.

What was the highlight of the 2017 season for you?

This past year probably wasn’t our best season – we just stayed consistent, always staying just outside that top-5. Like I said, there’s a group of guys that are pretty tough to beat, and we found ourselves just off a couple times. I guess one of the highlights was at least finishing in the top-3 a couple times and getting to do some stuff for our sponsors and our fans that root for us every week.

You have one of the smallest teams in the Flying Tiger pits on any given Thursday night. How do you manage to stay competitive with a smaller group?

Basically, it’s the commitment from my family and especially from my brother. He works on the car almost solely. He’s good with calculations and he’s really improved mechanical-wise. I do some of that stuff, but he’s learned quite a bit throughout the years; he’s actually impressed me. Throughout our years of growing up, he’s never been a hands-on mechanical person, but he’s really stepped up and taken on the chore. He does a lot of stuff on the car. I work quite a bit, and he works hard as well, but he enjoys it.

How did you get started in racing?

This will show my age a little bit, but I used to go Catamount with my uncles when I was a young kid. I enjoyed the sport, and kept following it throughout the years. I was actually hanging out with Chris Fisher and Jamie Fisher when they started racing over at Airborne. We’d kick around the shop and such and then go with them every week to hang out. So I was going to the races quite a bit, and I just got the bug. Then I came into some money, and I said, “I think I’m going to start a Tiger team.” And everybody thought I was crazy, and said, “Shouldn’t you start in the Street Stocks or something?” And I said, “Nope. I want to do a Tiger. If I’m going to spend the money, I might as well spend it up front.” I’ve learned some lessons throughout the years. Some were hard, and some were a little bit harder, but we’re here today because of it.

Do you have anyone that you consider a role model or that you take after?

It’s kind of cliché, but I think I have to go with my father. He taught me a lot of life values, and that you need to work hard to accomplish what you want in life. If you show that true in and true out every day, it makes you a better person.  

Can you tell me more about your family?

I’ve got three kids – and my wife, obviously. My oldest son is 25, my step-daughter is 23, and my youngest daughter is 15. She’s one of my biggest supporters at the track and always has been. I’ve got my brother and my sisters, plus my mom. To keep it going, I have a granddaughter as well – she just turned 4, and she’s at the track just about every week.

What is your biggest life accomplishment so far?

I carried on the family business, and I’m pretty proud of that. After my dad passed away, I did that with my mom and my brother. My sisters helped out a lot throughout the years, and my wife did as well to back me up. My marriage to my wife is a pretty big deal to me as well. We’ve been married for almost 20 years now, so I’m pretty proud of that, especially in this day and time where it can be hard to stay with the same girl for a while. I’m pretty fortunate and lucky with that. We bond pretty well, we have a lot of interests together, and she’s put up with my stuff throughout the years with racing and working and things like that. She’s quite the accomplishment to me.

What’s your dream vacation?

Somewhere where I don’t have to worry about the clock and that’s a lot warmer. (Laughs) A place like the Carolinas or something like that during the summer, being out by the ocean, relaxing and just hanging out with family.

If someone turned on the radio/media player in your car, what would they most likely be listening to?

Pretty much country on a daily basis, but I listen to a large variety of music. My daughter, my granddaughter, and I listen to a lot of music in the truck. Everything from “Hair Nation”, to Metallica, to rap, to Johnny Cash – you name it. Any given day, I could be listening to anything. My daughter teases me all the time because I know a lot of songs.

If you were asked to appear on a TV show or in a movie, which one would you want it to be?

I’ve taken quite the liking to “Street Outlaws.” Something else I’ve enjoyed doing some throughout the years is drag racing. I actually own a 1971 Camaro right now with a big-block that has quite a bit of power. Unfortunately with the racing, I don’t get spend a lot of time on it. A little bit of a hobby of mine is collecting antique cars. So it’d be cool to go on a show like that. It’d be a different type of competition – instead of going in circles, go in straight lines.

How long have you been collecting cars? Have you had any really cool ones over the years?

It started out around the age of 18. I picked up a couple of ’70 Camaros, and I had an ’81 Z28 when I met my wife that I traded off. We go to a lot of car shows with our friends. We do a show down in Lake George called the Adirondack Nationals; I’ve been going to that every year for almost 25 years now. We go down with a group of about 15 couples that all have cars. It’s in September, and we almost missed a Thunder Road race this past year because of it. We leave for Lake George on a Thursday, and the Community College of Vermont event had been rescheduled for Friday. I thought I was going to miss the race until it got rained out again, so I got saved on that one, and we got to enjoy our weekend.

What sports do you follow or play?

When I was younger, probably in middle school, I did a little bit of cross-country running. And then around 8th grade I started wrestling and did that throughout my high school career. I used to be a lot thinner back then too. (Laughs)

Who is your biggest supporter at the track?

Probably my wife. She tells me, if it’s not something you’re enjoying on a daily basis, then just walk away until you can regroup and figure out the easiest solution. But try to have a positive attitude about it, and it will carry you a lot further than being negative all the time. Plus, without the help of my brother, I probably wouldn’t still be racing, because I work quite a bit.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?

Throughout the years, I used to watch people like Robbie Crouch, Brad Leighton, and all of them. I used to admire their spirit and their never-give-up attitude. They were pretty good forces to be reckoned with. Watching Chris and Jamie Fisher growing up doing it inspired me as well, because they both had a lot of success throughout the years. It’s kind of a tough question though. Like I said before, I kind of just jumped in it and went both feet in the water, not really thinking about it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Patience. Patience, and treating others the way you want to be treated. I try to live by that philosophy as much as I can. I’ve raced with a pretty good group of guys now throughout the years, and there’s been a lot of give and take on both ends.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

Relaxing more. (Laughs) What with a hectic racing season and my work schedule, I’m hoping to relax a little bit more, spend more time with my family, and maybe go on more vacations. By my wife, daughter, and brother like the racing, and it’s a family thing, so we’ll probably still be racing as long as they’re willing to work at it and Jeff keeps sponsoring us. He treats us really well on that. So I guess we’ll continue racing as long as we’re having fun.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Probably do a lot of relaxing and vacationing – get caught up on both. I’d probably also spread the wealth with some family members and just try to enjoy life.