Life slows down for Mike Raniowski when he is zipping around tracks at high speed on his motorcycle.
“That 200 kilometres an hour, that’s my not-thinking-place,” Raniowski said. That means work can take a backseat for a while and he can relax on family schedules a bit as well. Food, however, might be on his mind. “I’m thinking about what’s for dinner because I’m calm out there.” he remarked.
This is the 10th year racing for Raniowski, mostly at Shannonville Motorsport Park, but also at Calabogie and Mosport. His love for bikes and cars extends back most of his life.
“I’ve been an adrenaline junkie since I was probably three years old. I used to do extreme skiing and stuff like that too so I was into moguls and all that. That was probably my big thing and then BMX, I was into that as well,” Raniowski said. “I was on a bicycle at two and probably started jumping stuff at four.”
Raniowski got a ZX6 street bike at the same time he bought his current business, Take Mike for Granite, and took it to Shannonville where there are opportunities for riders on racing or street bikes. He impressed other riders with his speed and they encouraged him to register for an upcoming race. “I did well and then I bought a race bike and took my street bike off the street,” he recalled. “As funny as it sounds, it’s safer to ride on the track than it is on the street.”
While also having some success on the track, the key for Raniowski has always been having fun and making new friends along the way.
“The biggest thing about me compared to 90 percent of people is I do this 100 percent for fun,” he said. “I don’t go out there to be number one. I won’t take stupid chances to be number one if I have to. If I’m faster than you, I will get around you here or there, but I won’t stuff somebody in a corner to get away from them.
“I’ve never had a sponsor because I never wanted that over my head that I have to perform for somebody else, but I’ve definitely had a ton of support from people.”
He’s competed at national events hosted by Shannonville and Calabogie and even in Quebec and Nova Scotia (where he wiped out and suffered a collarbone separation and five broken ribs). “On my bike I bet you I’ve got upwards of, if I say 12,000 laps, I’d probably be (estimating) low.”
“Years ago when I was into racing and had a bit more time I actually rented the track by myself a couple times just to go ride around.” It’s a passion that he takes in stride. He’s serious about safety, but not about results. He also loves teaching the next racing class through Shannonville’s Motorcycle Racing School, which is how he got his start.
All first-time racers must attend a school before getting their first competitive license. “I love helping people,” Raniowski said. “I like teaching other people how to do it. I couldn’t care less if I’m racing one, two, three for the win or racing 21, 22, 23 and just have two guys around me that were basically the same speed, same caliber and it’s just a good race. That’s what I like about it.”
five years ago Raniowski added a 250 to his lineup, he then sold that for a ninja 300 which he still races now
“I would say if anybody wanted to get into racing, that’s definitely the way to go,” he said. “Start with a little bike, get the fundamentals down and then if you feel like it step up, but some of the best head-to-head racing out there is definitely the little bikes because you basically have to less break, more gas because you don’t have the power that the 600s and 1000s have to make up the time.”
More gas, higher speeds and, for Raniowski, no better way to relax.