Podcast host Lucy Norris chats with with an Irish TCR racing driver and finalist of MI young driver of the year. Sep 14, 2020
A true family affair this week’s guest grew up surrounded by motorsports taking advantage of the go-karts they had in the garage he quickly fell in love and worked hard to take things to the next level. Being nominated for young driver of the year opened doors for him and his time in single seaters took him from formula V all the way to Asia to compete with formula four and test a formula three car.
Now trying his hand at tour car racing, he is battling his way through the championship with his eyes firmly locked on the top spot, sharing his experiences so far, here’s what it’s like to be Max Hart.
I’m really excited to you know dive a bit deeper into your story, so if you wouldn’t mind just to kick everything off i kind of like to get to know you a little bit more and let everyone else get to know you a little bit more by talking a bit about what it was like for you growing up. I know you’re from Baltinglas.
So what was it like growing up there and how did you, you mentioned that you had motorsport in your family a little bit, so can you tell me a bit more about what attracted you to motorsport and how that integrated into you growing up in Baltinglas.
You see pictures on the wall of your family doing sports, and I would see pictures of my granddad racing as I was never around when he was racing. My Uncle was heavily involved in racing as well and my Dad and my Mom’s side of the family are heavily involved as well. We always had go-karts in the shed and my eldest Brother Ross would always get to go out on them as he was old enough and then when we started hitting the age of 8 we got to see more of these because they’re pretty dangerous things like at such a young age so we got to see more of these this stuff and then we got to set up like little tracks around the house and we’d see who’d get the quickest times and then one day my Dad brought us to a track and then that’s kind of where we started and the Go Carts and then we moved up and then we i stopped after 12 because we couldn’t afford because we were going through the recession.
I think when I was 14 i bought a buggy and then we used to just rip around the field and that and we used to just tear the place up in it, so eventually then i saw that and then i had just enough amount of money for a deposit for a test day at Leastone Racing who are based in Kildare and Paul brought us up and he basically taught me everything i know for for cars and that’s where it all started off.
I raced some Formula V then for a year and a half and i won the C championship which took me over to England three years ago in November we went over to Brands Hatch and unfortunately we didn’t have any testing so it was all new to me it was in the least on 1000 in the singles here that weighs 380 kg so like it’s really fast it’s really light as well and we finished second which was a bit of a surprise but we were super happy with that anyway.
That kind of set us up for the season and raced that car for the whole season and ended up finishing second in the championship which was pretty good for our first year!
Then at the end of the year I went to Asia and raced F4 and then i got to test an F3 car and this year we had plans to do like F3 but that all fell through.
Now we are racing TCR in the uk now.
That’s mad! You’ve had quite the few years it sounds like it all happened pretty fast for you.
But can you take me a little bit back to when you decided that you wanted to take this seriously.
I suppose it was probably the first time that i did that test up in Kirktown when i was 15 through Carting, you always have that ambition or that dream but when it seemed it could become a reality then we started testing the single seaters and get a pretty good taste of it, then you’re doing well you start to see like what could happen what’s in the future or what’s possible. that you could do and yeah i suppose foreign and getting wins and that that was a like i was never good at like gaelic or football or soccer or anything like that so when i found something i was good at i just like held on to it and i don’t know just you you put 100 into it all the time and yeah that’s where i suppose i i first kind of had it and for anyone that doesn’t know that much about motorsport maybe only knows a little bit about formula one because of you know the glamour of it and or the netflix series i don’t know if you watch that um but for anyone that doesn’t know what would you say the main difference is between formula v and formula one well it’s actually the same engine size so formula v is 1.6 and so it’s formula one which is crazy but like in terms of the cars they would be a lot slower like so much slower and downforce as well they have next to no downforce so and you wouldn’t have like power steering or anything like that so it’s kind of slow racing but it’s when you’re driving them cars like this on the edge and to be up the front you have to always be on the edge so you have to you’re always fighting with these cars because you’re trying to get the most out of every time to get that little bit over your competitors so that’s kind of where the difference over too there would be a really big difference from formula v to formula one or even from formula v to the likes of formula four formula three is a pretty big difference as well i think most people would know anyways that you you need people to back you to take part in this sport because it is so expensive so you started your career you said with that first test um and then when did you start to notice or when did you approach people to sponsor you or how did the whole thing kick off i suppose kind of after my first years in formula v formula v is it’s uh it’s expensive but it’s it’s affordable in in the way it is it’s probably the cheapest single seater you can you can race uh but then the year after when we started getting quite like quite a lot more serious with the 1000 because it’s so much quicker and people started noticing me kind of then so that’s when we started kind of chasing sponsors and things like that and yeah that’s kind of where we needed back in if we wanted to move forward to the likes of asia and things like that and tell me about asia that sounds insane that you went over to race there what was that like yeah so we were last year we got nominated for a young driver the year and then we made it to the finals and then i think it was maybe the week before to find out who would win it uh we got this call and we got this opportunity then to go over to asia and then uh i think it was on the tuesday we had the the finals and we literally left tuesday evening right after we went straight off to asia and uh unfortunately we didn’t win youngjae over the year but uh that’s a different story and then yeah we headed over to asia and it was all new for me i’d never driven these cars and i had no testing either and then yeah we were straining we got no practice we were straight qualifying so we were trying to learn straight away the car like the track as well it’s a it’s an xf1 track and it’s only like recently x so it’s a it’s a pretty cool track and as well with the weather over there it nearly rains every single day and so we didn’t know how it would be so our qualifying was dry and our race one was dry and then we had to uh there was quite a way till the next three races and then it was just rain for nearly all of them and it was just it was difficult uh like there was so much learning like it was it was difficult it was challenging but it was it was really fun we ended up coming away with a third place which was really good against like such a an international greater drivers as well what country was it malaysia ah okay within that as well um you spoke a little bit about how you do travel to all these different countries to race what was the first um foreign race you took part in um i suppose in england it would have been yeah we went to bran’s hatch which is my favorite second now because it’s just it’s so you have to be really brave around the grand prix track so that’s what i like about you have to get no fear at all so yeah brands would have been our first one in england that’s the first one we want to broaden and touching on that fear that you you know you have to be fit i think it goes without saying you have to be fearless to drive these crazy fast cars around tracks but do you ever get nervous before races or do you ever worry that something might happen yeah i definitely get nervous yeah before it’s like you always you always want to do your best and you want to make sure you do your best and lucky it’s not that you think you’re going to crash you just have to talk that something might go wrong that’s all just before the race i think that’s kind of part of the nerves and the build up to it but once you get kind of in the car well for me anyway once i get like in the car and i have my helmet on like that’s when i just i’m totally focused and i just forget everything and then i know that i have a task in front of me that i need to do and i need to do well i suppose so you were doing all of this crazy stuff while you’re in school as well which i think is so incredible because um just from the limited knowledge i have of the industry a lot of people kind of leave school behind at around 16 or whenever to fully focus on this um so how did you go about balancing schoolwork with traveling with racing i suppose i kind of wanted to leave school for my parents they wouldn’t let me which is it’s totally right now like i can see why now but i did i did ty and that was kind of the year that i kind of i wasn’t really in school much i was kind of focusing on racing a lot and then uh i suppose true fifth year was kind of the same as well i was still in school quite a lot while i was out of school as well with racing like you’d leave on a wednesday to go to england and then you’d come back monday morning like on the ferry if we were racing in england and that’s so you wouldn’t be you could go to school on monday but you just wouldn’t be able to you wouldn’t be able to learn anything you’d be so shattered and so i suppose it’s tough to balance both them and as well with training as well you have to train so you have late nights as well and things like that but uh i made it through you mentioned as well there um young driver of the year which you were nominated for and you made the final of that so can you take me back to that time and um just talk me through the whole experience of that time so i actually remember i was in school and my phone was ringing and i could feel a person you’re supposed to have them up in school but i remember someone else’s name i saw the number and i could see it was a double number but uh i think i just answered it and hung up straight away i don’t know i and then and then i got i got an email or something and i just quickly looked to it i remember just giving it a quick little read and then look up i just remember seeing that i had been nominated for him here and then i was just so happy like the feeling was really really good and i was just super excited and then i remember ringing my mom just after class just as i was walking down the hall and i think it was break time and um i answered the phone and my mom was crying i was like what i said what did they do they rang her then after me she was just crying she was just with happiness for me because we kind of said this at the start here like these were we had a few goals we wanted to like do top three in the championship we wanted to be nominated for young driver of the year and there was one another i can’t remember i always said three girls at studio just what i want to achieve and then yeah so she was crying and then uh i just i i think i might i might even the last class and then i went home and i was just so happy in the car home i drive so i was driving home from school and i just remember being so happy and then we were waiting we had to go for interviews then so we went for interviews to see if you make the the final tree and the interviews i was so nervous because i hadn’t done anything like this before but i went in and well the interview it must have gone all right i didn’t think it went too well but no no because i remember i think it was maybe two days later or something i was working and i was doing a delivery and i was coming back through blessing and i just remember seeing it on facebook actually and i just was like screaming with happiness i was so happy like even think of it now just makes me amazingly happy that i made the top three and then i was i was super happy to make the top three anyway a win would have been a really big bonus and uh yeah then we had to wait quite a bit till the the actual ceremony where we find out who won so it was me james rowe jr who who was the winner and william kellett who’s another guy from mead who’s a good man mine as well uh some three of us were in the final and uh he had james won it and he’s racing over an american now and f3 what happened for you after that how did it impact your career going forward well i think i got i was i had a few radio interviews and i was in newspaper quite a lot and on social media so i got a lot of attention kind of that way i think when i got nominated that kind of there’s an irish guy who runs the championship over in asia and i think he might have saw it and that’s when he contacted us and [Music] so i suppose i opened the doors for me to go to asia and things like that and more people kind of saw me then and that’s why i think this drive kind of helped with getting nominated it looks kind of good on the cv as well if you’re trying to get sponsors and things like that so it’s it’s it’s it’s helped me out anyway and you mentioned that um before when we were talking that you swapped from single seater to i can’t remember what you called it now but um yeah yeah so which one of those do you prefer i get i get this question so often completely recently because it’s it’s new that the changeover but like you can’t compare them they’re totally different driving ways are totally different like i’m used to being in the middle of the car and like just you have it’s open wheel it’s totally dif you can’t compare them like and then with the saloon car it’s left hand drive uh your paddles your mirrors you have a main mirror as well which is quite weird for me and the mirrors are quite small as well like you’re looking over to this one and visibility isn’t too good in the meter well it’s not good in either of them but uh it’s it’s just totally different they handle totally different they’re different to dry but uh i i do enjoy this car a lot why did it change over after kind of this corona came about we didn’t know where we were standing kind of or what to even do and then this opportunity it just came about and we just decided why not take the chance like this it’s an opportunity if we don’t take it somebody else will and we could lose everyone something bigger so we took it and it’s more affordable as well towards the top like formula one if you want to go to formula one you need a lot of money and a lot of backing well it’s with singles years it’s it’s a it’s quite a lot less cheaper to to make it to the top and so what is your i guess your dream track to race on and then what are your goals for the future where would you like to see yourself um i have quite a lot of tracks that i’d like to drive on and i’ve driven on two and i’m kind of already brand touched like you look at old videos around there and like it’s a pretty good track like uh silverstone grand prix the maggots and becketts that that sequence of corners uh that’s pretty cool to do in a single tier so i got to do that one i mean i suppose spa i think every every racing driver span belgium that’s to subtract that i would really like to do as well as a driver i suppose you want to experience the g forces kind of going up there and the grip as well would be pretty cool and i suppose the danger of it as well i would say i’m kind of an adrenaline junkie and that would give you a lot of adrenaline yeah i guess i’d say you kind of have to be an adrenaline junkie to do what you do so i guess that makes sense and if you had to give one career high and one career low what would they be the career heights that it would be kind of um my first win in castle comb last year in the month in the least on 1000 that was pretty special i was so happy i see we were dicing like through the whole race me and dean warren who was i think he was the championship leader at the time and it was only it was i think it was the second last corner where i got to lead and that was a pretty special one i just remember i can picture it in my head come on across the line and seeing my dad and team boss paul he be over they were nearly on the grid they were that far out they were like probably like shaking and i was just i brought a few tears to my eye on that cooldown lap with joy and and then career low like when when things don’t go roughly in the car like we’ve had a few mechanical falls throughout the years and i hate when i don’t finish like i’m just if you’re if you let’s say or sometimes i’ve had a really good qualifying it’s that weekend as well like i i’m not one to crying but i didn’t try i was so angry uh i was i think it was the second race of the weekend and oh no it’s the first race the weekend i qualified second so i was on the front row and i took off and we had a mechanical fault unfortunately but i just remember i was i was so excited for this race and i was like our pace was really good like that could have been our first win and we didn’t make to the first corner i just remember getting out of the car and just getting behind the barrier where nobody could see me and just going on my knees and putting my helmet in my hands and just not bawling or anything just you allow a few tears you’re you’re just disappointed yeah you’re angry you have all these different emotions going through and that’s probably a career low that weekend so and that’s why it’s probably a career high that weekend as well yeah because i’d say you put so much work into just one weekend and then especially when it’s no fault of your own um it must be pretty difficult to deal with at the time yeah but you have to get over these things you have to look forward to the next race you have to be fully focused you can’t be thinking like oh will this happen again or like oh my race is ruined or something like that you know you have to fully focus for the next race and you have to be ready for it so i know that you can’t predict the future and obviously we’re living in crazy uncertain times at the moment but do you have a few plans as to what you’re going to do with your career over the next few years we’re not we’re not too sure on exactly but we want to we will see what we want to go to the top there’s this round is it’s cut short because of corona virus so there’s only three more weekend so it’s a four four weekend race so our next one is in two three weeks two weeks after this weekend it’s two weeks and that’s in silverstone like if we if we win it that would be amazing we’re second in the championship after the first round so we are 17 points behind which it would be easy to win if the leader let’s say he had a problem at dns that would put us straight to the front if we finish uh so i’m not hoping for that i don’t wish that upon anyone but like it would be good to win this new i think that would it would open doors as well and um i suppose gt racing that interests me a lot like ferraris and plans and things like that that’s kind of where i want to go if not british town cars it’s pretty big over in england and uh yeah it looks real fun i feel i’m kind of an aggressive driver if you watch some videos that it seems like you have to have a bit of aggression for it and things like that i think for anyone listening um and people that have followed your career it’s safe to say you’ve definitely experienced success along the way and you’re still so young so there’s so much time for you to achieve everything that you want to achieve but um i’d be curious to know if you did have a personal definition of what success would look like for you when i go out on a racecar i always want to win and if i can get into anything that i can get into and i can win in it that would be success for me and happiness as well if i can be happy in my whole life that would be that would be success for me to be honest or make other people happy as well and then i do just have one more question for you and i’m gonna let you get on with your evening if i put your 10 year old self in front of you today i know it wasn’t that long ago since you were done but um if you could give that 10 year old self one piece of advice having been through the crazy few years you’ve been through um in your career and then also just in life in general what’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give that 10 year old self moving forward that’s a really good question i suppose um i just don’t think things are impossible i suppose because when i was like 15 and things like that we didn’t think that we would go to asia or things like that and all these little things they just come around and i would support i would tell myself if there’s an opportunity there to definitely take it because opportunities they can open doors and things like that so i would definitely nothing’s impossible and if there’s an opportunity to take it i like that that’s good pieces of advice and you’ve definitely done that so far and it’s paid off so um yeah it’ll be cool to see what you do in the future i just want to say thanks so much for giving up your evening to chat to me it’s been scary um to hear about your world thanks so much for having me on as well thank you so much for listening and as always please rate share and leave a comment if you like what you hear and don’t forget to follow what it’s like pod on instagram and facebook to find out more about max and his racing career visit the links in the show notes provided i’ll be back on thursday with more inspiring stories but for now this has been what it’s like with luce