In the mid-2000’s, Seventh Dagger straight edge band The Miles Between stormed across the countryside bringing their southern-tinged brand of hardcore and metalcore to the venues and VFWs of the United States and Canada. After the band ended in 2009, guitar player Mike Belanger dabbled in music production, before returning to his earlier passion, short track racing.
Now, with Team Belanger Racing, Mike is tearing up the Massachusetts circuit, the current favorite to win the local short track championship. We spoke to Mike about his journey, and his new team.
SXEWORLDWIDE: Mike, thank you for talking to us this evening. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mike Belanger: Pleasure is all mine, great re-connecting man! Well, I’ll try and skip over the boring & mundane. Well, for starters I toured in a metal/hardcore band from 2004-2009 called The Miles Between. From Massachusetts. Played guitar.
I have to admit, your band ruled.
Well, I appreciate that. We tried to have fun with it.
That first Seventh Dagger record was great.
We were really happy they chose to pick it up when they did. Made us feel like the efforts we put in were worth it.
And what are you working on now?
Music has sort of taken a back seat (though I gave a first-timer a guitar lesson tonight), I’ve switched gears literally and am racing cars at a local asphalt short track in Massachusetts.
Tell us about your team, when did you start, what are you racing?
It was always a second passion. Before music, I dabbled a bit in short track racing. I was always a spectator & practically grew up at the track with my father. Late in high school, music became my primary focus, but between touring, I’d always try and make time to catch a race with the old man.
Once the touring days came to an end, I decided to go back to school & tried to find a path that made me happy. I’m currently in human services, working as a director of a non-profit day-habilitation program for adults with developmental disabilities… As that took off as a career, I was drawn back into racing. Essentially, I’m the kind of guy that needs to stay busy & positive. Racing takes up just as much time as being in a full time band.
Do you travel, or race locally?
This is Team Belanger Racing’s 3rd full season running for points at Seekonk Speedway. We have the opportunity to travel, but choose to stay local, competing in a weekly racing series. Traveling is hopefully on the horizon… It’s all about checking off the things on your bucket list.
That’s rad. I think it was actually your band that introduced me to Talladega Nights. Didn’t you have a copy in your van?
Hahaha of course we did.
And Mountain Dew? Weren’t you guys that Mountain Dew crew?
Mello Yello good sir.
Oh right! We don’t have that here where we’re based. Legends tell of an elixir from the south…
And it is quite legendary indeed. I’m aware of a few Mello Yello tattoos that exist.
In your band, or elsewhere?
Matt paid homage to MY on his leg. Sort of a shrine looking piece.
Before The Miles Between, how did you first end up getting connected with the straight edge community?
Haha good question. Tough answer… Try to give you the reader’s digest version. In high school, sort of in the midst of the peer-pressure pressure cooker that we all seem to go through, I remember feeling uneasy… almost like I wasn’t ready, but more so thinking of the disappointment of my parents in mind. Also, I was a big brother & it was very important to set as good of an example to my sister as I could.
At any rate, almost overnight I lost a best friend to drugs and alcohol. Wasn’t a death, but he changed. It’s tough to explain but he chose drugs, drinking and partying over the good times we used to have & it was confusing & sort of hurtful in a way. I was called names & ridiculed because I wanted nothing to do with that lifestyle. It’s sort of drilled into you that it’s a bad path & I was always intimidated by it, drugs that is.
I sort of know that I really focus on what I want to accomplish & try to be the best I can be… I never wanted to be the best at drugs and drinking. I saw how it could change people & I just focused on other things.
It’s tough because when you’re in the moment, it’s hard to know if you’re taking the right path. It’s only years later when you get some sort of clarity
Right. And hindsight being what it is, I’m happy.
That’s awesome. Do you think The Miles Between or Team Belanger Racing would have ever happened if you’d taken the same path as your friend?
So basically, I always had time & energy to put into passions. I definitely don’t think BOTH would have happened. It’s easy for me to hit the reset button & explore new interests because of the lifestyle I think. The only thing holding me back is my own abilities and/or apprehensions.
Listen, I’m sure drinking is fun, I’m sure drugs can be fun too… But traveling in a band, seeing & doing unreal things was fun too. Pushing a car to the limits… I guess that’s my high. I don’t know. Nothing beats the focus.
If people want to come out and watch you race, do you have any road dates coming up?
This year, almost as soon as the season is over, I’m getting married & checking another thing off the list. So the travel plans with the car will probably have to wait until next year. We do have a YouTube channel & a Facebook that people can check out & follow. We do a lot of events & take part in charities with the car. We always post about those, so in that sense we do get out there… Not like the old Miles Between days though. Miss those days!
That’s rad. Maybe we can hook you up with CJ Wilson’s team. I think they only drive Porsches though.
Ha, that’d be awesome!
What car have you been running?
We run a 1982 Toyota Celica… Far cry from a Porsche.
Oh wow, and you’ve been winning in that thing?
As I chat with you, we have 4 weeks left in the season & lead the class in the standings by 40 points. We’re in good shape to take down the championship this year if we can keep it in one piece. 3 wins on the year & we won the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Championship… Just focused on the overall championship now.
Was that in Arlen, Texas? Okay Mike, thanks so much for your time tonight.
Hey, anytime. Thank you, Dan. It was awesome re-connecting. Hopefully we can bring some new fans out to the track!