An Olympic Snowboarder & IMSA Driver: Talking with AJ Muss
welcome to another episode. Welcome to another episode of Pit Lane Parlay My name. Is Mike Joke him? Today I am joined by driver of the number seventy four Hyundai velociraptor for forty seven motorsports. Aj Must Aj. How are you and Hausa corentin going for you so far? Yep Good I mean. This is a bad time when it comes the race and of course because everything's getting cancelled everybody's getting postponed like no one has any idea when the races are coming back. I mean raw. Where our schedule? We're hoping for Watkins Glen For me it's been okay. I've been training a ton eating super strict. Because I've can focus on the things that can control not that I've been really focusing on the things that I can control making myself better in any way I can awesome so you have one of the cooler stories that I've come across in my couple years. We've been doing the podcast here. Your original athletic mark was an Olympic snowboarder So before we talk about racing. I want to hear about snowboarding. I was I was reading before we got on the phone. Here about your actually in a medically induced coma for two days at one point. So I want to hear about Snowboarding in what was it like to be part of the Olympic team in and all that Awesomeness and craziness yes. I'm still an active. Us Olympic team member. And I'm still going for the training for the next Olympics in China coincidental but Yeah I mean I grew up snowboarding and I I grew up racing. Cartoon is really young. My father was a motor sports guy but my mom was into skiing and I just Kinda I duNno. I'm I'm a little different. When it comes to a lot of people were like. I said this goal to become an Olympian right and snow. One just happened to be the avenue of which I was doing which I was good at to make that Olympic goal. Like I love snowboarding. I love what I do but the Olympics was my goal where I wanted to being where I wanted to reach these goals and figure out a way to make it there right so you went to. You've been in one Olympics corrects. You doesn't Eighteenth Young Chang and looking back before that you're in a medically induced coma for two days in twenty fourteen. I'm guessing a snowboarding accident of sorts. Yes so I had shoulder surgery and after my shoulder surgery they sent me home in two days later. There was some post. It's called post operative pulmonary edema and I just I. My heart had hall burned a hole in it or how to hone it that they didn't know about which caused my heart to start shunning. My lungs filled up with water. My Long pops and I decided collapsing in which ended up causing me to flat line. And they had to revive makes medically dead and then they put me in the nickel coma to keep me alive. Because without that I wouldn't be able as rivals on full respirators. I was breathing for myself and I couldn't do anything for myself. And that was a month before a month and a half two months before the season started and I still came back to compete that season. Yeah I I learned a lot about probably how determined you are. By the fact that two days later you woke up and you said to the nurses of the doctors. I'm not getting wheeled out of here. I'm walking out of here hundred percent. I walked out of it. I would not. I know it's like a law or something a great now. You would added cuff me to that wheelchair I I came in. I came in on a Green House. Walking UC wow. That's I mean props to that I I know it's it's pretty crazy to think so snowboarding. You're you'll be in the Olympics next year. What's what's the rush of snowboarding versus the rush of being in a race cars any differences. It is our similarities between the two. You can take in terms of competitiveness. Yes I'm gonNA adrenaline Junkie Right. I could tell for no matter what I do I just it has to be at adrenaline rush after feel that endorphins. But so Daytona was my. I am service and race in a full size car besides a cart when I was younger while but I like the race went really well. We had a good time. We raised well but the Rauch I got for that to out my stem was two hours and fourteen minutes was my stint the way I felt that entire two hours fourteen minutes is the way I feel when I do my race rounds at a race but for constant two hours and fourteen minutes. There is not one moment where I was like like. I was relaxing calm cool and collected the same time like my mind was so determined and the like the sensation of just being in the zone for an entire to fourteen minutes. Which endurance racing is unique in that aspect? Where like you're going for a long time. I endurance racing is is one of the coolest things I've that this this Daytona was the first year we've covered it and it was. It was a lot of fun and we didn't get to sleep much. You get to stay for the twenty four hour race or did you have to head out because this is my first Daytona and I m seven. I had to say like okay. I you WANNA leave him like I. I gotTa Watch this like just the sights and the sounds at night on race day is extremely corn. I love all forms of racing. But there's something about when the lights go down that just something else clicks and I. I have never raced in the night but I really wanted because I'm a nice guy like I- snowboarding. We do racism really good at the time. And that's where I feel really good and like it like I get in his Kinda zone in every it's I can't. I can't imagine drivers going going through just like it's you in the track and lights. I almost I know I said this I forget who we were talking to said. It was the cool. One of the coolest things for me was sitting out on pit lane Eh. Four o'clock in the morning stands are empty. There's pretty much nobody walking around other than the cruise and just earing race cars and seeing all the action and it's still intense. There's just like a really nice peaceful silence other than the race cars. And it was one of the coolest school moments of my Motor sports media career so far yet. Unbelievable I mean the Neon Lights. Different colors for different cars. The speed different. The speed difference between the DP is in the Gt's like in a daytime. You kinda see him coming up on your mirror but a night light kind of getting that depth perception in lights really isn't there. You know what I mean. It's insane so did you make it. Were you able to stay up for the entire twenty four hours? I I did my I raise the day before and I was pretty tired sized state up until like midnight and then I went to bed for a little bit. We came back super early. Like five o'clock in the morning so I wanted to see those early. Like Sun coming lie came back for that and I saw the fireworks. Of course I didn't have a desire to stay up for the entire twenty four but the main aspects of the dead of night racing in the early dusk to dawn. I thought I was going to do it. I really thought I was going to stay up for twenty four iron on. I did crash around five. Am for about ninety minutes and it was very very needed. Although still I was. It took me about three days to really recover from from essentially not sleeping for a couple days. Yeah my opinion when it comes to the twenty four the cruise the unsung heroes. They don't go. Yeah they're sleeping. They're sleeping in their in their pits. Like with their head not often the chair and of those kind of funny and non say sad to see but you just want to give them a pillow and be like. Here's some coffee. Here's a pillow. I can sleep anywhere. I could put a pillow on the pavement and fall asleep for a couple of hours so I don't know how they do it when they have to like wake up on a moment's notice to handle a pit. Stop or some sort of issue coming in sure so before IMSA. You also competed in formula. Drifts are did I did. I did one year in Formula D. Yeah what was that like? It was cool. It's a different. It was a difference styled motor sports. It's more. It's a judged event right so subjective which trying to think without like to each their own right so I switched over to 'em so which I am really happy. I did remiss drifting and I loved drifting but some of the S- objectiveness of the actual competition. I don't really like not like the judges you'll have a meeting in the judge's they'll say this is what we want. And then you feel like you're doing what they want. And then you're spotter. Thinks you're doing what they want but like they kind of change their mind during the event and stuff like that and objectiveness between people they like and people. They don't like like I didn't have a great relationship with one of the judges. Do Pass history and scored a little. Bit Lower Volume. So yeah I mean it's it. I think a lot of the skills I've learned from drifting is going to be very useful in himself like I'm very comfortable with with the road race car when it's loose ron and still have a ton to learn because I'm very sure would all but I think a lot of the things that we do everything backwards if that makes sense. Yeah but when a car is loose I don I. It's pretty comfortable for me but in the same aspect. Rtc Our cars are from drives so you. It's really different. We're in the aspect of wherever the front wherever the noses pointed is where it's going right. You get oversteer you really. You Bury the throttle and you let the front pull you out and the cars understeer a good amount. Which is it's once you get used to it. It's it's not so bad like you really have to be patient with the throttle and point the nose before you get back on gas. Where like the royal drive cars? You can get back a little bit sooner because you're not. You have to worry about pushing the front because the the front of the cars are having so much to do so much work on them. They're steering the car. There used also giving the drive. You're leaning on the front left. That's also like it's so much going on with the front relying so heavily on the front that you get some pretty bad understeer very interesting anybody out there who is potentially getting into racing listened to that last question because it will be very important for your driving career so speaking of driving your teammate. Is Ben Waddell? What does Ben like as a driver? Have you learned anything from him already? In and I know you guys are keeping in touch during the quarantine. is is. He giving any sort of coaching in the meantime to to keep to keep busy. Yeah I mean. Ben is a phenomenal team eighties. Has Data's been a driver coach? Since Nam I mean his dad's a phenomenal job. Coach has been the game along time. Ben Himself is a good driver coach. And he's helping me out a lot like before before Daytona the day before like having trouble in sector two and Ben actually sat down with the data we went over the data and I gained a second and a half just by Ben going over some data with me because I was breaking a little too early not going as deep and then in turn seven. I was breaking super deep and I wasn't getting a good drive and Ben's been really good at that stuff and he's e- might not have the name at a lot of people have but he has a lot of experience his dad being driver coach for an Almond Dinger and a lot of guys he's shanks. Mike shanks spotter and coaches. In the. There's a lot of experience be had there and I'm I'm a strong believer. Whether the same age they're younger they're more experienced or less. Experience is always something to be learned from someone else like being humble and taking information. That's being willingly being given to you whether you use it or not. That's up to you but being ignorant and thinking you know everything is only GonNa make you slower not faster. I like it so a wrap it up here with one or two more questions. I know we're kind of on a little bit of a pause right now until the world is in a healthier place but when we get back to racing there a few things that you want to specifically work on to improve your driving and and throughout the entire season yeah I mean I just need more time. I mean there's lapse that I'm on pace the lead drivers there's lapsed and I'm not I definitely need to be a little bit more consistent with lab after lab I definitely need to be a little bit more less aggressive. When it comes to race craft during during my stints like I had the stanton I think an hour an hour in to my stand. I was battling extremely hard with Honda and one. I looked at it as I'm a new guy like I didn't WanNa get bullied so like he had me. I had a mobile like I was giving birth end of the day. Like was that really smart. Move because I still have another three and a half hour. You're three hours to go and then on top of that my first race I've ever been at which Daytona the first full insert race. I lost my radio forty five minutes into my student. I had no radio and I had no dash. We Hung Aletsch electrical issue where I lost my Dash Dunno year. I'm in like I'm counting gears. Obviously we kind of have an idea. We'll gears in times. I don't know my fuel consumption. I have no radio to connect with my pit or spotter and I was out there blind by my so. How walk okay? I'M GONNA change my last question here. Walk me through what. It's like doing an endurance race. When you essentially have no idea what's going on other than what you see in front of you was there. Did they pull out one of those old school hip awards to update you or anything like that in Daytona? Really hard to see young where the pit lane is and where we're coming around to turn want. It's really far away from each other. So I mean every lap a Mike leaning over my my. Halo's my pet seeing they're waving seeing I'm GONNA get black flagged maybe they called up and Black Fag. Many come in but I was really just guessing out there and like little. Did I know the first forty five minutes? The race I was running with the leaders pace and I was sitting in p. six P. Seven when I started p twelve I passed six cars on the first lap so I was having a pushing the car really hard. They're worried about my tires falling off. Luckily I'm pretty good on the tires. This coming from a drifting background. I understand tires really well. But it was stressful. I mean my heart was like because an also like I don't know a hundred percent all the rules like right right when we have to drive drive through to get back on the lead lap of the GT cars. I was just guessing might well. Everyone else is doing this. I guess I'm doing it and it was a stress. I mean I got out of the car like I did. I did one pitstop too much because I didn't want to come in. I'm just guessing so then. My stint ended up being longer to change strategies and I got out of the car and I like did. The driver changes ban hopped over. The Wall took Muhammed often. I almost like passed out. Want it was hot as hell. Yeah and then. My brain is working a hundred times harder than normally works because I'm trying to comprehend everything that's coming in looking my mirrors having spotter trying to remember what. I know of the rule book and it was just a lot a lot. Yeah that's even more impressive to bring the car home in in one piece after a couple hour stint so. Wrap it up with a really easy question here this year. We are building out the parlay a spotify playlist. If you were to add one song something you listen to before the race to get you in the zone. What Song is it Tim Montana particular's not one specific song. But only let me look at my playlists workouts. Let's see here Jim Montana Hillbilly rich. All right we're going to add it to the list. That is I. I'm guessing it's a country song. Ads country all right so we have. We have a very eclectic list so far. I think we have some wrap some pop and now some countries. So we're going. We're going all a full spectrum in the circuit so far so thank you for the addition and thank you for the time this afternoon. It's been a lot of fun chatting a best of luck this year with racing whenever we get underway and best of luck in the Olympics van. I'm definitely going to tune in and watch some snowboarding. I think for the first time admittedly a longtime. But I'm looking forward to it. I appreciate it thanks. It's I'm no problem and have a go on.