Around the age of 14, Mike Shelden (he wasn't quite "Muffler Mike" yet!) attended a few Bug-In's and Drag Days at the old Orange County International Raceway with his brother who was into Volkswagen drag racing at the time.  His first time down the track was in 1984 at Terminal Island in his 1976 Volkswagen Rabbit.  Shortly after that his brother gave him a try in his Volkswagen Bug and on his first run ran a low 8-second pass in the 1/8 mile.  The car at the time was running 12.80 elapsed times on street tires with a 1800cc power plant. 

     A few years later the brother began to lose interest and Mike scooped in to fill the drivers seat.  He took the 1776cc with the 94mm Cimas (which were very popular at the time) and put in a little work to up the power a little with a 1915cc, Engle 130 cam, Superflow 2's with a an 8:1 compression ratio.  His first event was the Bug-O-Rama in Phoenix in 1987.  Mike got the car in the low thirteen's but unfortunately a red light ended his day in the first round but he was hooked.  He attended a few races at Palmdale, getting in a few rounds here and there but life got in the way when he got a real job and started traveling for a living.  In 1989, his brother sold the car and Mike would have nothing to play with. 

     Around that time his good friend to this very day, Jim Hagethorn was selling his 1962 VW Ragtop with a 2332cc, mild heads and IDA's and Mike jumped at the chance to own it.  That car is the same car Mike owns and races to this day!  With traveling for wok and being very young he only raced the car a hand full of times a year but by the mid-1990's had gone from a mid to high 13-second car down to a mid to high 12-second car by changing out the heads and exhaust.  In 1992, he headed back to Arizona for Phoenix Bug-O-Rama #13 and decided to run in what he considered full street trim, keeping on the street tires and muffler.  His firend, Jim Hagerthorn took out some shoe polish and wrote "Muffler Mikey" on the back window and when he returned to Phoenix for Bug-O-Rama #14 the announcer called him out as "Muffler Mike" and it stuck ever since!

     In 1993, Mike attended two races in Phoenix (Bug-O-Rama #15 and #16) and one in Sacramento (Bug-O-Rama #31).  He was able to win both Phoenix events with the first one being his first ever event win.  Not much time to race in 1994 due to work so he decided to have Gary Larsen, who did the original motor setup in the car for Jim, freshen it up a bit.  This is also the year Mike met John Redding.  He attributes this friendship to to starting to get really serious about racing Volkswagens.

     In 1996, the Pro Racing Association opened up the point series for the Pro Eliminator class and Mike was in the championship hunt all year.  He attended all the events with the exception of Denver that season because he thought the event was too far.  He ended up in second place, 20 points (1 round) behind Mitch Williamson who won the championship.  Since that time Mike has not made that mistake and made sure he attended all schedule PRA events, winning the PRA Pro Eliminator Championship the following four years (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000). 

     With the success in Pro Eliminator Mike decided to try the jump to the PRA Super Gas (11.90 index) class.  He had reached the low 12-second range in his original combination from the early 1990's and thought shaving off a few tenths going turbo wouldn't be hard.  In his words, "boy did I step on my own toes".  He admits to trying too hard and setting up the car completely wrong, spitting out rings and pinions twice in the season.  As he was trying to relearn how not to break parts the turbo set-up kept getting faster and he kept trying to slow it down which proved impossible to do.  In his 3+ years in the Super Gas class success was few and far between.  Midway through the 1994 PRA season he decided to try his luck at the in the PRA Super Comp (10.90 index) class.  He made it to the semi-finals in his first Super Comp event at Sacramento Bug-O-Rama #54 and at the Las Vegas Bug-In #5 made it to finals where he beat Nick Wharton for his first class win.  The next two seasons in Super Comp were very good for him as he won back-to-back class championships. 

     From 2007-2010 Mike struggled to go rounds and get wins.  As he put it, "I had lost something" and it culminated with his first winless season in 2010.  The first two races of the 2011 season didn't start out great either, losing in round one in Phoenix and round two in Sacramento.  Mike was the runner at the fall Sacramento event and from there it seemed his confidence was back, winning the last two PRA events of the year and claiming his third Super Comp championship and seventh PRA Championship in his career.    

     Mike will be busy in 2012, running in the Pro Racing Association Championship Series and the Bugorama Racing Series. 

 

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