Through The Esses - Michael Keyser - A Man Fast With Words, Cameras, And Wheels
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10/24/08 © Andrew S. Hartwell

At the age of 61, Michael Keyser can look back on a childhood growing up on a farm, a summer as a young adult exploring Europe in style, then on to a variety of adult experiences that would include time spent as a newspaper reporter, a professional photographer, racing driver and team owner, a film maker, a balloon seller, a writer, a publisher, and a web entrepreneur.

Who is Michael Keyser? He's a man who first raced in SCCA amateur races, then in the old IMSA Camel GT series, back in the 1970's. Later he'd go on to make an incredibly interesting and beautifully filmed documentary about the world of international sportscar racing called The Speed Merchants. He's also produced two books of the same title.

In future decades he'd go on to author a book on the making of the movie Le Mans, considered one of, if not the best movies about sportscar racing ever made. In the early 90s he created a company, Autosports Marketing Associates, Ltd., that markets his books, DVDs, and a large assortment of his original photographs from the 70s.

In his days spent behind the wheel, Keyser raced with or against some of the best of the 1970s, including Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood, Al Holbert, Milt Minter, and many others. He finished 3rd in the 1972 IMSA Camel GT Challenge series, 2nd in the series in 1973, 3rd in 1974 and 8th in1975, all in Porsches. In 1976, he teamed with Al Holbert to win the 12 Hours of Sebring. That year, for a run at the IMSA championship, he switched from a Porsche to a Chevy Monza where he ran against Holbert, also in a Monza. He ended up finishing 4th in the Camel GT series.

In 1971, in his little GT class 2.0 liter Porsche, he ran on the high banks of Daytona at the same time the all-conquering mega-Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s were melting minutes into seconds and setting the racing world ablaze with amazement. Can you say, WHOOSH?

We've known Michael Keyser for many years, but never really sat down and talked with him about his past, his upbringing, and how he came to be so involved in racing in so many different respects - from writer to photographer to driver to film maker to publisher to merchandiser.

We'll let Michael tell his story. After all, he might as well drive this piece, having had the experiences first hand and because, after all, he is a writer.

I grew up on a farm in Reisterstown, Maryland, about a half hour northwest of Baltimore. I was one of three children, with two older sisters. My Dad owned a newspaper, a weekly, but his real passion was breeding cattle; Angus, then Charolais. During the summers I worked on the farm, starting by driving the hay truck when I was 11 or 12. They'd pull the choke out a little, put the truck in first gear, show me how to use the clutch and I'd drive the truck from one hay bale to the next while the guys threw them onto the back of the truck. That was alright until they made me throw the heavy bales! That wasn't so much fun.
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