This week the guest in our series of “ETS Family Interviews” is Awesomatix team manager and one of the best Stock Touring Car racers of the last years – Mad Max Mächler! Find out when RC Car became more than a hobby and he finally ended up in leading the Awesomatix team.
Hi Max, welcome to our series of interviews! Firstly, we will just start by asking how you are doing in these strange and often difficult times?
First of all, thanks for the interview! Currently I am doing well, and hope everyone of our RC Racers community is too. The whole situation isn’t easy for anyone, but we need to take it and do the best we can.
As my very little hometown is in middle of “nothing” with a lot of nature around, the limitations don’t feel so bad like in bigger cities.
Obviously, as most people know, your job is really as the main Awesomatix representative in Europe and the official Team Manager for all your drivers. Would you be able to explain what (in more normal times!) your day-to-day work consists of?
I’m in a very lucky situation to have had the chance to transform my hobby into my actual job in 2018.
My main job is working at RC-KleinKram (RC-Shop) where I am doing mainly customer service and taking care about Awesomatix related tasks. In cooperation between Awesomatix and RC-KleinKram as official German Distributor my job includes the Awesomatix representative and Team Manager role.
As I am in very close contact with Oleg (The genius behind Awesomatix!) and all my team drivers, I bundle all the important information for both sides and allocate them. Taking care of the team drivers needs and requests, as well as organize for example the pit area at bigger races for the team and also racers who wish to pit with us, is just another task of many.
Furthermore is development and testing and important part of my job to further improve the products.
Because we all know: “stagnation means regression”
And then, what is happening for you with work now, with the lack of racing around the world?
In the current situation my tasks just moved more to the customer service area. In these times we receive a lot of requests about parts and products, as people have time to dig out the RC stuff from the past or want to buy something new to enjoy the lockdown time at home.
Beside this we still work on future project as well as on the finalization of the Awesomatix A12 1/12th scale car.
How are you personally finding things now with no racing? What are you doing in your “free time”?
Feeling pretty OK currently, as I had the feeling of an “racing overload” towards the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. The break will help to gain back power and motivation for racing.
I my free time I work on a very special project which I have in mind for quite long time.
The plan is to “go live” with this project in 2020! I can’t tell more about it by now, beside that it’s clearly RC related.
Let’s go back to happier times and think about racing in better times. How did you get started in R/C? What are your earliest memories of racing?
It’s all my father’s fault (laughing).
I was like 4 years old when my father bought himself a Tamiya TA-02 BMW 318i STW kit which we raced on a parking lot. I was fascinated and wanted to have my own! In the same year, Santa Claus was very pleasant and brought me a Tamiya Fighter Buggy. After some time, we checked for clubs and tracks around us. We found the indoor asphalt track with included hobby shop called “MTC Schäfer”. We joined the club and practiced and raced there for several years. Today this hobby shop is transformed to an own RC brand and called “SHEPHERD”.
We’ve seen from pictures you posted on Facebook over time that you did a lot of racing in the HPI Challenge in Germany. How are your memories of that time and those racing events?
Basically the whole racing thing started for me in the LRP-HPI Challenge back in the days.
My first race with around 5-6 years was in the HPI MINI RS4 class at MTC Schäfer track in Sandhausen.
I collected a lot of experience in this racing series by attending for several years in different classes.
Great memories, especially to the biggest events of that time, called the “Touring Car Masters” in Eppelheim.
See guys who travel from Japan or USA to Germany to race with RC Cars was super impressive for me, and I had always the wish to do same. Travel around the world and race rc cars!
So that leads on to the next obvious step – how did you then end up driving an Awesomatix, and working for them?
In 2012 my current club had still an own indoor track where Freddy Südhoff visited us often for practice and testing.
At this time, I used another car brand and was close to quit the hobby. But Freddy convinced me to try the Russian car and give racing another chance. I switched to Awesomatix in 2012, right before the ETS in Mulheim-Kaerlich (Season 6, Rnd.1). My first ever run with this car was the free practice on Friday morning. The car was like a bullet from lap one, just super impressive. At the end I finished 5th overall in the ProStock class and made my first ever A-Main at the ETS!!!
After this race, I sent an email to Awesomatix, to say thank you for the masterpiece of an rc car which helped me to claim an ETS A-Main and keep me in the hobby. After this I had regularly conversations with Oleg and we became very good friends also outside RC. From 2011 till 2014, Freddy was the Team Manager of Awesomatix (till he switched to HB). At the end of 2014, Oleg visited me in Germany for a test week at my local track.
There he asked me if I feel ready to be the future Team Manager of his Brand. This all moved along till today and got more serious year by year.
For you, thinking of all your time in racing, what changes are the most obvious to you? Maybe with all the improvements in technology, is there anything that perhaps isn’t so good now?
Most significant improvements IMO: 2,4ghz Transmitters, Brushless Motors, LiPo Batteries, pre-glued tire sets.
Also the RPM limit for handout stock classes is a great thing! But I see some negative points of racing which don’t relate to “technology”. I know some will disagree with it, or don’t like what I say, but I don’t fear to speak out loud my own opinion. I see a problem that bigger events need too much “days off”. In the past we had 3-day events. Nowadays they are often 4 days which means including traveling ~5 days. But the average of racers is limited with holidays at work. It’s a huge difference for the most, if they need to spend 2-3 days of holiday or only one! Another point is the weather fact. Nobody can influence on the weather, that’s obvious (well China and Russia are somehow good at this). I would love to see if more races and events would work on “rain race rules”.
If you look to the cost of a “wet car” and compare it with the costs to travel to races its kind of minor. Waterproofed electronics do exist and work very well. For sure we need to take care of the safety aspect for the participants and all the staff, but I think there can be creative solutions to make it work.
Going back to your work with Awesomatix, you must be very proud of where the brand has got to now – one of the premier and most popular brands, and one of the most successful too – not bad for what is a very small company compared to the other competitors?
Yes, I think we did a good job as Team and Brand in the past time. I am hyper proud of the progress and how things went! Awesomatix is still a very unique and small brand, which I think is also part of the success. We can decide and change things faster in case its needed.
And your own racing successes have been very impressive recently – what do you look at your own best result or race event?
Most exciting was the EC win in 2018 and the TITC win in 2019. To win an official EFRA title was always a dream, and it was an incredible feeling to achieve this goal. The TITC race in Bangkok was my first outing in Asia region, which I really enjoyed. Totally new culture, also the race organization and racing style was somehow different.
When I flew over, my goal was to make the A-main. To win this race in the end was a big surprise which I realised first the day after. Had such a great time there with Ryan Maker and Salton Dong who helped me so much at this race!
As well as the success of the Awesomatix brand, and your own racing results, you’ve also recently spent more time as a mechanic for your leading Modified class drivers too. How did that come about? How did you learn the key skills to be a great mechanic as well as a driver?
The mechanic thing is something I am used to. I worked long time as 1:1 car mechanic where I wrenched on really expensive and fast cars and highest precision and reliability was key! In RC I had also a very good and strict teacher who showed me a lot of tricks and how a perfect car should be (Marcel Geiger aka. MacGeiger).
The key to be fast on the track is a perfectly built car. This is the needed basis to work further on the setup.
As I am keen to build “perfect” cars, Oleg asked me if I can take care of some cars before events.
And do you enjoy that side of the sport? If you had to choose between winning a race yourself and building the car for another driver to win, which would you take?
I really enjoy both sides for 100%. Kind of impossible to make a decision on this.
In the end I would choose what’s the best for my Team!
In the six months or so before the virus pandemic closed so much down, you seemed to do more racing than ever – even traveling to China for a race there. Do you think you found the ‘maximum’ it was possible for you to ever do in your racing calendar?
2019 was a pretty cool year with more traveling than ever! I learned a lot, made many new friends, and experienced many different cultures. Overall, I spent over 120 days on tracks and events for testing and racing.
This was for sure on the upper limit! I had the plan to slow down a bit in 2020, but now the COVID-19 stuff slowed it down even further.
And of course, in amongst that, was all the work on Awesomatix’s new 1:12th scale car. How did that project start off, and are you happy with the progress that was made?
Kinda funny story. At the EFRA TC EC in Trencin 2019, Oleg sent me and Freddy a message to make our entry for the 1/12 World Championships. We were surprised, as we didn’t talk about 1/12 before. But Oleg told us he will finish a prototype for the WC and we should attend with it. We received the car 2 weeks before and spent 2 days testing before we headed to the UK. The car already worked fantastic at the first outing, and we improved the performance during the race.
So far, we are very happy with the A12 project.
I guess that the shutdown of racing really came at a bad time for the 1:12th project? Do you have any ideas on what the next steps for the project will be now?
Yeah kind of bad timing, but it gives us some time to further refine the A12 with the collected data from the WC and EC attendance. We collected a bunch of useful data which Oleg transform now into improved drawings and design. The release of the A12 is still planned for 2020.
Looking ahead then to getting back to racing, which we all hope can happen soon on one level or another, what are you most looking forward to?
Definitely the company with my team and friends! And for sure testing and racing myself. Nothing frees up the mind more than the 5min (or the very long 8min in 1/12th scale) on the rostrum!
And finally, has this enforced break from racing made you think of any races or events that you really miss, or maybe didn’t make it to yet, and now know you absolutely need to visit soon?
There are still events on my “bucket list” which I couldn’t attend so far. Some were planned for 2020…
On top of this list is a trip to Japan to visit the Yatabe Arena for a race, as well as meet some of my Japanese friends.
Thank you for your time – just to close, is there any last thanks or anyone you didn’t mention you should do??
Big thanks to my Father who always support me, as well as Marcel Geiger, Oleg Babich, Freddy Südhoff, Salton Dong and Stefan Klein. Without you many things wouldn’t be as they are!
Shout out to all my sponsors for all their trust and support they put into Mad Max!
|06.||Frederik B. Mikkelsen||592pts|
|05.||Martijn v. d. Heijden||303pts|
|04.||Steven M. Olsen||598pts|