INTERVIEW WITH MIKE MELESKIE
Please introduce yourself, tell us about you (age, nationality, profession) and how you became a simracer
My name is Mike Meleskie, 65, Canadian, live in Edmonton Alberta but I am a retired railroad Executive. I’ve lived in multiple cities in Canada and I now spend the 6 months of winter in Phoenix Arizona USA. If you look at how far north Edmonton is, you will realize why I winter in the desert sun. I have also many moves in my career (9 moves by last count), one being 18 years in Montreal, so I have an affinity with Jeremie.
I had played various console games over the last 30 years with Microsoft and other wheels and was always frustrated with the arcade style physics. I’m an engineer by trade and have a human factors degree in Systems Engineering. I just got so upset at the lack of realism. I was also never a first adopter and it seems every time I got some hardware, there was a new console upgrade that made my stuff obsolete. In spring of 2019, when covid hit, I had so much time in lock down, I jumped in again on with an old Xbox with Project Cars and F1. I was super impressed with the graphics. So decided for once to go all in, built a PC and mid level equipment. I was blown away by the realism. I’ve always loved driving fast cars. (See last question)
How long have you played ACC ?
I played Project Cars for a few months but found many of the cars un-drivable and I didn’t seem to be able to make setups work. Then when PC3 was released, I was so pissed that they turned it into an Arcade game without saying so, I refused to play it again. I did some research and found that ACC had the best realism. So I spent some significant dollars and built myself a decent PC (first time I built one) and some Thrustmaster kit and I was hooked for life! I also built a wooden roll-a-way rig with a Mazda5 Sport seat from a wrecking yard, ergonomically designed for my 6 ft body (See my article in digitalcarculture.com Issue #4 page 42). I found ACC so much more of a realistic driving simulation that I was quickly down the rabbit hole of FOV’s damper settings and Motec charts. So much out there to get up to speed on. So much sophistication! I loved the technical aspects of it all. But now its all about the driving.
Tell us how the idea of the eSeniors came to you ?
After playing ACC for a while, I quickly bored of the racing aspects of hot laps and AI competitors and started looking for fun leagues for beginners. Somehow very early in my internet research, I found eSeniors. I thank the Lord for that day. I really haven’t done many other open servers, why bother racing anywhere else, eSeniors is the best.
How was it racing in the eSeniors Championship ?
At first I was very intimidated by racing with other humans. I wasn’t very good at first and in 2020 there weren’t that many of us in the club. I was so worried about ruining other people’s races that I panicked so much when someone like Bird was on my tail. Over time I got a bit better, am more prepared, and have more confidence in defending and passing. I find the fellow members amazingly supportive and well behaved. Sure we get aggressive at times, but we know each other so well in the community that all is forgiven more often than not. The tier system has helped so much in making it more enjoyable, more competition within our ability levels, we do have our own geriatric aliens in the club!
How many hours did you spend preparing yourself for a Race, and why is it important ?
I think it’s only a couple of hours a week, but my wife disagrees. I am retired now, but pretty active in golfing, softball, bicycling etc so I grab a hour or two here and there during the week to prepare on the track/car combination of the week. Probably about 5 hours per combination. It has gotten much better in season two of the Championship. I now am much more familiar with the tracks so not so hard to prepare compared to the first year. That first year I spent so many hours practicing and doing track walks with Aris that I was speaking Greek in my sleep (he is greek isn’t he?). I love him and appreciate his commitment to the community, but his streams are sooooooooo long! I find the track knowledge is the most important thing to getting faster. I’m often shocked by the fact that even after hours of practicing, I discover some new line for 20 sec. of speed during qualifying for a race. After that it’s just repetition repetition so that the braking and acceleration points become automatic. Then I can concentrate on racing craft and not running into Nikos.
What kind of equipment do you use (wheel, pedals, PC, screen, etc) ?
Thrusmaster T300 base, Sparco P310 wheel, Thrustmaster T-LCM pedals, Custom PC with 3070 graphics card and a Dell Alien 34inch curved screen. (DD is in my future)
Do you buy setups or do you setup your car alone ?
For this season I am using Coach Dave setups - with a subscription I intend to download all cars and track combinations. I modify them slightly to fit my driving style - mostly brake bias, pre-load and TC. I got the trick a few races ago on Mark’s stream watching Steven, to modify bias and TC with buttons during a lap. It helps on some tracks.
What makes you faster than the rest?
I’m not faster than many people, but when I am, it’s because of track knowledge. I get in behind someone for a lap or two and realize where on the track I am faster (with the BMW usually in corners) and then take advantage to pass. I am getting better at pressuring people from behind and waiting for a slight error. Works on everyone but Andy who never makes mistakes.
What is you favorite car and why ?
Don’t really have a favourite, but this year, out of brand loyalty, I have stuck with the BMW M4 because I have owned BMW’s for 20 years. I’m totally about performance otherwise. Drove the Aston Martin in 2021 because the M6 was such a dud, this year I picked the Mercedes GT4 after much testing. Happy with the M4 this year so far, especially the British tracks due to great cornering speeds.
What is you favorite circuit (s) and why ?
Love them all actually, since I spend so much time with track walks and laps they all have their quirks. The British tracks I have a love/hate relationship with as it’s so hard to pass. When you are behind someone who never makes a mistake it’s hard to be patient.
Who are your childhood racing heroes ?
Didn’t follow racing so much until Gilles Villeneuve had his day - so tragic, but that was mostly due to his nationality. Only recently got back into F1, sorry but a RedBull fan. Went to thefirst two USA F1 races in Austin and oddly enough have not ever been to the Montreal Grand Prix despite living there for 18 years. On the bucket list is Montreal and one European Grand Prix. I’ll keep my eye out for some GT3 races. I’m watching a few real life GT3 on racing channels.
What is the best advice you would to give to a simracer ?
Practice Practice Practice and have fun! Join eSeniors
Are you satisfied with the Eseniors organization, and do you have suggestions to help bring a higher level of competition ?
This is such a good league due to the members. Mark and Jeremie put in so much time - and I’m sure others in the background. I’m worried you will get burned out. The tier system introduced last year has improved GT3 competition and enjoyment so much - especially for us Group 3 guys. Mark has put in so much work for the schedule this year. As a suggestion, the “everyone in” races are fun but we should introduce a competition within the competition by posting results by group member levels - I have been waiting for a few races under our belt and will volunteer to post a recalculation of this with the current standings to see how it looks. This way while on track for say the Porsche Cup, we could have overall standings then Group 1-2-3. Will make it fun within a race when you know you are racing a competitor for points in the standing.
And finally, the most important question...how many speeding tickets have you accumulated to date ?
I was waiting for this question…. Far too many. Everyone else has been answering “none”. We have photo radar in my hometown and unless I set my cruise control, through lack of attention I always get caught. Nothing massive just 15-20 kph over usually. But on a back country road I have had my M245 up to 215 kph. Just for a bit, on the prairies in Alberta where you can see for a 100 miles ahead. Little scary in real life!
My Edmonton Rig
My Phoenix Rig (left it messy as it alway is)
My custom travel box