This week our media team talked to Freddy „The Green Machine“ Südhoff. He is one of the fastest non-professional onroad racers in the world and we tried to find out what Freddy is doing when he is not racing his Awesomatix touring car!
Hi Freddy, great to have you here in our series of “ETS Family Interviews”. As we asked all drivers in the previous interviews, we also want to know how you and your family are doing at the moment in this very special life situation. Is everything fine at home?
Thanks for having me here and Hi to all readers! Yeah, everyone is doing fine so far. We try to get used of wearing a mask during shopping and stay as good as possible in quarantine. But that’s how it is. In the end this pandemic will help us all to stay even closer together, thankful for how good our daily life is/ was before and that we can only survive if we all act in concert.
Most of the people out there think that RC racing is your job - but that is not the truth. Tell us a little about your real day job and how it is affected in any way at the moment due to the Covid-19 virus?
Right, the past 7 years I was used to be a service technician for industrial diode laser systems which means I travelled through the whole world to install and repair these lasers. The lasers are used for material processing such as plastic welding, soldering, hardening etc. most likely for the automotive industry. It was a great opportunity to get a “view behind the scene” of the big names in the industry. Lasers are used nearly everywhere nowadays. But since mid of 2019 I changed my internal position in the company and work now as a technical trainer/ instructor so all service technicians can benefit from my experience. The amount of travelling before was immense, together with RC I had kind of 40-50 flights a year! Now everything has calmed down and I most likely work only from our headquarter in Mainz, Germany. Currently I am working from home office till at least end of May. But his may change depending on government and company decisions.
As we know, you lived in Mainz (Germany) for a couple of years and you bought your own house last year. Have you already moved to the new location? How does it feel to become a house owner at least?
Yes, my girlfriend and I moved around 6weeks ago into our own house, around 15-20min away from Mainz. Not the best time as it was the Covid-19 break out time but together with our closest friends we managed the movement to get done within a weekend. “Luckily” we are all in quarantine so immediately after work we can work on the house, in the garden etc. For sure there are no boring days for the next time! If you finish work on one side of the house/ garden you can start again on the other side.
You are racing at the ETS and almost any other major events since many, many years now. When and how did you get started in the RC hobby?
If I remember correct, I started racing around 1999/ 2000. My dad came home from work and told my mum and me we need to come to his car and help him carrying out something from the car trunk (my mum had no idea!). Of course, as a 10year old boy, I was totally excited when I saw the small RC Car and all the equipment. It was a Kyosho TF2 kit, equipped with Aluminium chassis AND gear diff! Seems like nothing changed the last 20 years J The car had two super nice bodys with it. A Mercedes AMG DTM and an Audi TT DTM. Luckily, the beautiful track of MCC Rheda-Wiedenbrück e.V. was only 5min away located from my home. We went there for some “training” and after a super short time I did not want to give the radio out of my hands anymore. So my dad lost his new RC Car and I entered the RC world from that day on!
Who was the most important person in your beginning stages of RC? How long did it take you to reach the level which allowed you to qualify for A-Main finals at the bigger races?
I would say it is not fair to mention only one person here. Of course, my parents, as they helped me on the financial side. But also, the club members were very helpful, and I felt integrated immediately. Specially the first chairman of the club at that time, Franz Göllner, who unfortunately passed away some years ago, but also Bernd Wellerdiek (Raceberry owner!) or Christoph and Olaf Thiele and many more. In the early beginning my dad built me a small trailer for my bicycle so I could carry all my equipment by myself. It was not an easy ride to the track as we still used automobile batteries to power up our chargers etc :-D I was nearly every day at the track, especially during school holidays, drove 4-6 batteries and went home again. At the weekends I tried to race against Christoph Thiele and lost heavily. But he was so kind to help me growing at the track. When I used a Mabuchi 540 brushed motor, he used a 12T brushed and chased me down the track as long as I made a mistake and so on. I really still have great memories to that time and am sure to benefit till today from it! To be consistently in A Mains I would say it took me 6-8 years. The material was more important than today, and it took long until I received the support I needed. I would like to mention here the “Young Diamonds”, not many may remember. But it was group of young German drivers: Christopher Krapp, Yannic Prümper, Felix Bischoff and me. We got support from Orion and Tamiya (if I remember correctly) and if you see were those drivers lined up today, I would say it was a good call from those companies to help us!
Now you are one of the fastest electric touring car drivers on the planet and you are in contention for the a-main and the top spots at almost every race you show up. In 2019 you won your first ETS race in Madrid after being very close for many times. What went right at this ETS in Madrid to finally get the job done?
I will never ever forget this weekend anymore! When we (Max and I) checked the weather forecast before the event, the motivation was not the highest. A lot rain was expected and cold, windy weather. But from little pre practice at home, we did know that our car worked excellent under tricky conditions. At that time, we were still the only company with a mid motor concept. From the very first practice run the pace was good and with the help of Max, who takes care of my cars as I am very limited in preparation time due to my normal job, I felt more confident from run to run. And once you are in flow, almost nothing can stop you and from mental power I felt superb. It is still very emotional, and I still get goosebumps when I see the video from A-Main 2. When a dream came true and you are able to win one of the biggest events in the world. As I said to redrc after the race, the competition is nowadays so high and you cannot win on your own, you win as a team. So many things need to come together.
As we mentioned before, you are not a full time RC racer. Do you think you could be even faster when you would act as a professional driver, or is it better for you to have a normal job and take some steps away from the RC life during the week?
Very interesting question. For me, mental power is one key for success. Doesn’t matter which kind of sport, but when your mind is not clear, you cannot perform on a high level. So practice will help to get stronger mentally but also more routine in driving. The less you think the faster you are! Also, talent is key to success. If you let Ronald, Marc or Bruno drive with a shoe box, they still will perform on a high level, because they have pure talent and can drive with whatever has a radio!
But I kind of enjoy knowing that after the race, doesn’t matter if I made the A-Main, podium or even win, I can go on Monday morning to work and continue with my “normal” life. As a professional, you have a higher pressure as your sponsors pay your monthly bills and you really need them. On the other side you have to spend many weekends away from home as it is your job, so the private life changes as well. People most likely think they have an easy life, but once your hobby is your job, it won’t be that easy anymore.
I enjoy being semi-professional and still can decide if I want to go racing on the weekend or not.
You are a very important part of the successful Awesomatix team which is fully packed with top drivers like Marc, Lucas, Max and many others right now. But you can remember the beginning of Awesomatix as well because you raced with one of their first platforms back then. How would you describe the way of Awesomatix from a newcomer company up to the top of the industry?
It was a tough way. Imagine a single Russian person, engineer, coming from a totally different job has a dream to create his own RC Car without having huge financial support in the background. That’s how Awesomatix was born! Oleg Babich, the man behind Awesomatix. Today one of the best in business if not the best designer. I think we received a lot of laughs in the beginning, especially with the art of shocks, shaft car, floating gear boxes etc. But already in the early beginning, small details made the difference. If Oleg sees that most brands go the same way, he has the ambition to still go his own, different, way. Copy paste is something you cannot find on Oleg’s keyboard. Being part of this development feels great. I stay 100% behind Oleg’s philosophy and I think this philosophy is what the customer likes the most. Going a different way with a big amount of creativity and engineering innovations is key to success. But also, customer support is something what Oleg and the team cares about. We listen to every racer’s feedback and Max as a team manager is almost 24/7 available not only for the team, also for customer support.
As we look on different classes right now, let`s talk about 1:12 scale racing. You attended the last euros in the Netherlands (4th place) and the worlds in Great Britain as well. Have you ever raced in this class before or was it a start from zero for you? Will you continue to race in this class?
I raced 10 years ago the last 1/12 scale race. The class is huge fun, 8min. precise driving with those little cars is amazing and not as easy as it looks like. Last summer, Max and I got a message from Oleg that we should make our entry for the 1/12 worlds in January ’20. We replied like: “hey, ähm okay, but we do not have a car?!”. Oleg said: “Don’t worry, make your entry”. By the end of 2019, I think it was a race at the Hudy arena, Oleg were present as well and showed me the first drawings. I was stoked. I still don’t know from where he gets this inspiration, but it is amazing. As Max and I at least want to practice one or two days in advance of a World Championship, we tried to push the final development steps and production. So, here we are, 6 weeks in advance of the WC. Driving 10 years ago the last time a 12 scale car (I felt lucky as Max never ever touched a 12 scale car before). So, we went for some practice without any expectations for the Worlds and arrived in Milton Keynes. The event was full success for us. You wonder why, even we did not make the main in Modified? Because racing at the worlds is the highest level you can get. All companies send their best drivers. Without having any big knowledge, we got Max on Podium in Stock and I in the B-Main in modified. But even more important, we collected a high amount of data for further development. The EC in Holland went already a lot better for us so we are on the right way with the car. Of course I plan to continue to race 1/12. Our car isn’t released yet and I am looking forward to it, continuing developing the car and myself in this class.
You have raced on a huge number of different tracks during your RC racing career. Which one do you like the most and is your “best RC racetrack”?
I would like to mention 3 different tracks: Apeldoorn, Welkom Arena SA and Luxembourg. All of them are special. Apeldoorn is like a real racetrack. Great curbs, infield with grass. The club takes care on every detail. The Welkom Arena in SA from Antonia is the craziest indoor arena I have ever seen. He put so much effort into this Arena and it’s a shame the number of drivers during the WC there was so low…And Luxembourg? I guess no explanation needed.
Who is the best RC driver of all time and who is the driver you like to watch the most?
I don’t want to name only one driver. There are plenty I watched as a kid and with some of them I still have the pleasure to race and sometimes beat them! Back in the days like Baker, Spashett, Hara, Surikarn, Hirosaka or nowadays Völker, Rheinard, Coelho, Hagberg just to name a few. But independent of who is behind the radio, watching races is always fun. Doesn’t matter if A or Z main, seeing drivers racing there pants off without crashing, door to door is what makes our hobby so nice to see. I am sometimes more nervous watching friends racing then racing by myself!
The area in which you are living is well known for good German wine. Do you like wine or would you choose a beer instead?
Whatever I answer now will cause discussions privately, so I say 50% / 50%.
As one of my closest friends is owner of a winery, I get a very detailed view into the process of wine growing. I often spend my free time there and help wherever I can such as driving tractor, helping in the vineyard, etc.
Drinking different wine or different beer sorts is a great experience. Everyone’s taste is different so there are always nice discussions who prefer what, what’s the flavor etc.
A couple of years ago you made your private pilot license. Where does your love for aviation came from and how does it feel to fly a plane all by yourself?
Already as a kid I was very interested in planes and helicopter. I was amazed how they can “fly”. When I moved to Mainz I found out they have a small airfield where you are able to make the noncommercial pilot license. Immediately after the first seconds in the small plane I did know I want to make this license. So I started to collect some money and finally my dream came true! Flying is a nice adventure and I like to say: A mile on a highway brings you one mile away. But a mile on a runway brings you everywhere. Unfortunately, due to my racing and job schedule, I did not fly for a long time. But I hope to return as soon as possible!
When you are not working or racing RC, how do you spend your days off at home?
As I said before, I often help in the winery of a friend. It’s actually very nice to calm down after a busy day at work. Being in the vineyard or sitting on the tractor in the field is always nice. In the evening, after the work we often sit together, enjoy a cool beer or glass of wine (or two) and do some barbecue. As we just bought a house at the countryside of Mainz, we also like to do some nice evening walks and just enjoy the nature. There is plenty to discover!
Freddy, it was a pleasure to talk to you and we are looking forward to see you racing with the best in the business for many more years. Thank you for being a part of the “ETS Family” and now it`s your turn to finish off our nice interview!
Thanks for having me here. I hope we are able to return to racing soon. Even big events may not be held soon, make sure to support your local tracks in the near future. They need our racing fees and we all want to make sure they survive these hard times! We lost already a few tracks during the last years.
Stay safe and see you hopefully out there, soon!
|06.||Frederik B. Mikkelsen||592pts|
|05.||Martijn v. d. Heijden||303pts|
|04.||Steven M. Olsen||598pts|