Michael Valiante is a Canadian racing driver who achieved greatest results in the sports car racing. He reached his peak in 2015 when he finished the season as a vice-champion in the IMSA Sports Car Championship Prototype class. He was driving Corvette DP for VisitFlorida Racing. A year before, driving the same car, he finished third in the championship.
Earlier in a career, while driving single-seaters, Valiante was the most successful in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, finishing in the second place in 2002.
Victorious start of a career
Born in November 1978 in New Westminster in British Columbia, he spent teenage years in karting, gaining lots of success not only in Canada but also in the international competitions. His most notable result was the six place in the World Championship.
These karting successes led him to a full-season scholarship in the Skip Barber National Series in 1998. He was both the Rookie of the Year and series champion. The next step was the Skip Barber Pro Series in 1999, in which he had the Rio Big Scholarship. Scoring two podiums, he was 10th in the points. He spent one more season in the Skip Barber Pro Series, ending a year in the sixth place. He was a race winner once, at Road Atlanta.
Front-runner in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship
In 2001, Valiante progressed to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, driving for Lynx Racing. Despite the limited schedule with only five races, he finished high in the 8th place of the final standings. In 2002, his first full-season in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, he was a race winner two times and finished second in the points, losing a title to Jon Fogarty.
Just two races in the Champ Car
Valiante supposed to have Champ Car World Series debut with Walker Racing at California Speedway in Fontana in November 2003, but the event was cancelled due to wildfires in the area. His Champ Car debut came a year later, in the season's finale at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, where he was driving the #15 Reynard-Cosworth for Walker Racing. He finished in the 14th place.
In 2005, he made one more start in the Champ Car World Series, driving the #19 Lola-Cosworth for Dale Coyne Racing at Portland International Raceway, finishing in the 11th place.
Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series debut in 2005
In 2005, Valiante started his sports car career, making a debut in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with Ten Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports. He was driving the #19 Riley Mk XI-BMW in four events.
In his Daytona 24 Hours debut, he was sharing a car with Memo Gidley, Michael McDowell and Jonathan Bomarito, not finishing the race. In the last race of the season, in Mexico City, he was sharing the #5 Crawford DP03-Ford with Rob Finlay.
2006 – first full season in the Rolex Series
For the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season, Finlay Motorsports hired him as a full-time driver to drive the #28 or #5 Crawford DP03 alongside Rob Finlay.
They started a season with 11th-place finish at Daytona, sharing a car with Bryan Herta and Buddy Rice. Valiante and Finlay didn't score wins or podiums that year, ending a season ninth in the points of Daytona Prototype class.
NASCAR attempt with Chip Ganassi Racing
Valiante stayed with Finlay Motorsports in 2007, staring a season with a DNF at Daytona in the #19 Crawford DP03. After three rounds, Finlay and Valiante moved to Riley Mk XI-Lexus, running for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates until the end of the season. Their best result was 2nd place at Iowa and they finished 16th in the final standings.
In 2007, Valiante even made a NASCAR attempt with Chip Ganassi Racing, driving the #42 Dodge in the Busch Series race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He retired with broken transmission after 24 laps.
Maiden Grand-Am victory in a Wayne Taylor Racing's Dallara
For the 2008 Grand-Am season, Valiante joined SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing to drive the #10 car in the Daytona Prototype class. At Daytona 24 Hours, he finished fifth in the Riley Mk XI-Pontiac, sharing a car with Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Ricky Taylor. For the rest of the season, the team switched to Dallara DP01-Pontiac.
Valiante scored his maiden Grand-Am victory and the first win for Dallara chassis at Infineon Raceway, driving alongside Max Angelelli. At the end of the season, Valiante was 11th in the points.
Joining Michael Shank Racing in 2009
After just one season with WTR, Valiante moved to Michael Shank Racing in 2009. He was driving the #6 Riley Mk XX-Ford alongside John Pew. With two podiums on his account, Valiante ended a season seventh in the points. In 2010, Brian Frisselle was his full-time co-driver in the #6 Riley-Ford. They reached just one podium, finishing 14th in the points.
Starting MV Motorsports Driver Development programme in 2011
In 2011, Valiante participated in just two races with Michael Shank Racing. At Daytona 24 Hours, he finished 10th in the#60 Riley-Ford he was sharing with John Pew, Oswaldo Negri and Marc Goossens. In March, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Valiante was driving the #23 Riley-Ford for United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing, sharing a car with Mark Blundell in the sixth-place finish.
That year is important because Michael started his own MV Motorsports Driver Development programme, which is still active and provided services to many drivers who later made notable careers in the sports car racing.
Double ALMS/Grand-Am schedule in 2012
Valiante expanded his racing commitments in 2012, joining Chris Cumming and JDX Racing in the American Le Mans Series and participating in four Grand-Am races with different prototypes. In the American Le Mans Series, Valiante and Cumming were sharing the #11 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, scoring three podiums and finishing sixth in the GTC class.
Driving a Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype for Starworks Motorsport, Valiante ended 10th at Daytona 24 Hours. Later in the season, he joined Richard Westbrook in three races in the #90 Corvette DP for Spirit of Daytona Racing, winning at Mid-Ohio.
Racing for two Grand-Am teams in 2013
In 2012, Valiante also contested in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in a Honda Civic, scoring two wins. He stayed in Honda Civic for two more seasons in the CTSCC, scoring two podiums in 2013 and one victory in 2014.
For the 2013 Grand-Am season, Valiante rejoined Michael Shank Racing to drive the #6 Riley-Ford. John Pew was his full-time co-driver. In June, Valiante moved to 8 Star Motorsports and reached a podium in his first race in the #3 Corvette DP, sharing a car with Enzo Potolicchio and finishing second at Mid-Ohio. They were on a podium one more time, at Watkins Glen.
Third place in the 2014 IMSA United Sports Car Championship
In 2014, after a merger of the Grand-Am Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series into the IMSA United Sports Car Championship, Valiante joined forces with Richard Westbrook in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet Corvette DP.
Mike Rockenfeller was their teammate at Daytona 24 Hours, where they finished fourth. Later in the season, Valiante and Westbrook won a race at Watkins Glen, ending a season third in the points.
Vice-champion in the 2015 IMSA Championship season
In the 2015 IMSA Sports Car Championship season, the #90 team contested under the name of VisitFlorida.com Racing. Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante stayed together in a car, scoring third-place finishes both at Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours. Mike Rockenfeller was their co-driver in both events, Guy Cosmo joined them at Daytona.
Later in the season, the #90 Corvette won races at Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen. Valiante and Westbrook were second in the final classification, just three points behind Action Express Racing's Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.
Focusing on business since 2016
After achieving the best result in his career, Valiante retired from professional racing in 2016 to focus on managing his company and coaching duties with his racing team. He participated in just two races of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in a Honda Civic. In 2017, he was out of racing, completely focusing on leading the MV Motorsports.