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Max Chilton – Need For Speed

We talk a lot about risk on London Real. For this week’s guest, however, risk is a way of life.

My guest today is the British race car driver Max Chilton.

Max is both a Formula One driver and an IndyCar driver. In 2015 he won the IndyLights race in the US and is one of the very few British drivers to make the transition from F1 to IndyCar.

If you’ve ever seen the Ron Howard film Rush, which tells the story of two very different race car drivers during the 1976 F1 Season, you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of the insane life Max Chilton lives.

Max is no joke. He’s young, good-looking, brash and drives fearlessly.

Max has got his game together in a big way.

The way race car drivers develop the discipline of attitude and physical strength is a real world metaphor for any high performance pursuit.

These guys spend hours on physical conditioning, and they have to develop their minds into psychological fortresses.

In IndyCar the speeds reach up to 220 miles per hour, and the laps are much simpler than F1. In other words, the name of the game is speed.

Max told me he has to train his mind to refresh itself with every new lap.

Each new lap is treated like it is the first, and this is the trick to maintaining repetitive tasks at such high speeds.

Everything that Max told me about race car driving confirmed to me that success is built in the mind.

Despite his dashing looks and suave demeanour, Max didn’t shy away from vulnerability either.

He told me how his ADHD has actually made him a better driver.

When the stakes are so high, and you effectively cheat death for a living, preparation is everything.

Being slightly obsessive about each and every variable is exactly what keeps you alive.

Max performs his job in high temperatures and at high speeds, and if any one factor is out of sync, then it means certain death.

In fact, the same day that he won the IndyLights race last year, his friend and fellow race driver Jules Bianchi died in another race.

It is impossible to imagine what was going through Max’s head that day, but to go out and win his first appearance in a new American race on the same day, is testament to the strength of character it takes to get behind the wheel.

To this day, Max can’t watch the video of Jules Bianchi’s death, not just because of grief, but because he can’t afford to lose his focus on winning.

Again, the mental discipline involved here is astonishing and even a little scary.

Race driving is one of those sports where you can’t hide. It’s like going to war, one mistake and you risk not only your own life, but the lives of others.

Surprisingly, Max tells me in this interview that one of the hardest things about race driving is dealing with other drivers.

Some drivers are openly aggressive on the track, some are passive aggressive. Some, like Bianchi and Chilton, are good friends.

Managing these different personalities is a big part of the job of a driver, and is another one of those high risk variables Max needs to stay on top of.

I thought this was crazy. Even at top speeds, alone in a fast car, a driver has to deal with office politics! Only this time it is all played out at deadly speeds.

Ultimately, race car driving is about winning, and it’s about getting as close to death as possible without actually dying.

The catchphrase on the track is,“Drive it

like you stole it”.

In other words, there is something more than a little insane about what Max does for a living.

No matter how much you train, no matter how talented a driver you are, you have to be prepared to push yourself to the limits.

You have to be willing to go all in, and not look back.

Talking to Max reminded me of talking to the fighters we have had on the show.

Most of us will never put ourselves in a one man battle with death like Max does, but we can learn a lot from someone who has learned to take big gambles with his life to keep achieving his success.

Buckle up, and prepare yourselves for a real rush!

[0:07:06] Introduction to Max Chilton

[0:08:20] Watching F1 Grand Prix and having Michael Schumacher as my idol.

[0:09:47] Watching my brother race when I was 8.

[0:10:20] Learning karting and adapt the skills into major single seater races like Lewis Hamilton.

[0:10:32] Ayrton Senna karting. Karting is more of a level playing field than Formula 1.

[0:11:20] Shock to the system. It’s the speed.

[0:12:19] Is a great driver born or is he made?

[0:12:40] In Formula 1, you are up against your team mate mainly.

[0:13:26] Having a mechanic and a driving coach for karting.

[0:14:00] The smallest difference all adds up.

[0:15:29] Formula E not able to get a long enough race.

[0:16:07] People watch racing for the personalities. Motor sports with a helmet, but you can sense their personality.

[0:17:00] Redbull spent a $1B on their Formula 1 car. Each team has 1200 person working for them.

[0:18:47] What do you love the most about driving?

[0:19:55] Its a really hard sport for the amount of time you get to practice.

[0:20:30] Simulators at replicating the real life.

[0:22:10] MacLaren not having the best car this year.

[0:24:30] Where next for Max Chilton, Formula 1?

[0:25:28] Difference between Monaco and Indianapolis.

[0:26:05] Great tracks and great fans watching.

[0:26:25] How much does a crowd influence you.

[0:27:30] Half a million people watching live at the Oval track in the Indianapolis 500.

[0:29:00] Indy vs Formula 1 car’s speed.

[0:29:41] Do you worry about crashing.

[0:30:25] James Hunt.

[0:31:47] The reason why people like racing is because you put your life on the line or is that just the Hollywood.

[0:32:00] Safety has massively improved. Senna is the best racing documentary.

[0:33:00] Everyone have a same driving style since they were young.

[0:35:00] Training as an athlete.

[0:36:30] The Singapore Grand Prix is the hardest race, that is why every driver keep fit.

[0:38:00] Mental game and meditation. Sports psychologist. The best driver is the the most consistently fast.

[0:39:32] Metal rehearsal of the lap.

[0:41:41] How does OCD helps you?

[0:44:30] The Monkey Mind.

[0:45:57] Lewis Hamilton.

[0:46:30] Personal brand.

[0:47:10] Role models.

[0:49:29] Lewis Hamilton beating his teammate and being world champion.

[0:50:25] IndyCar and winning in Iowa.

[0:52:22] What do Americans make of you?

[0:53:05] Jules Bianchi’s death.

[0:54:46] Swearing during the race.

[0:55:30] At the end of the day, your time is up when its up.

[0:56:11] Ayrton Senna’s death. Sir Jackie Stewart.

[0:58:30] I couldn’t see the footage.

[0:59:00] Training. Being an athlete. Food. Treats and pigging out.

[1:00:15] Next 5 years for Max Chilton.

[1:01:10] Marussia Motors went bankrupt. Doing the Le Mans 24 hours race.

[1:02:12] Why do the Le Mans 24 hours race.

[1:05:10] Are you the happiest when you are driving? You put your helmet on and then the bullshit stops.

[1:05:40] Is this a young man’s race?

[1:06:40] Winning the Indy500

[1:07:15] What’s it like with family?

[1:09:20] What’s dad like?

[1:10:18] One record that can never be beaten. Finishing all races in a Formula 1 rookie year. Proud moment that my father shares with me.

[1:11:30] Motor racing is an expensive sport.

[1:12:13] The will to win.

[1:13:06] Everyone wants to win.

[1:13:20] Being a role model for kids.

[1:14:20] Motorsport is about the car.

[1:15:48] Success secret.

[1:16:40] Do you miss the adrenaline when not racing?

[1:17:00] Phone call to the 18 year old Max Chilton.

[1:18:00] What’s the best racing advice you ever received? Drive it like you stole it.

[1:18:50] Best advice you ever received?

[1:19:15] Best advice to the 10 year old watching on Youtube?

Max Chilton’s  Official Website

Max Chilton’s Facebook

Max Chilton’s Instagram

Max Chilton’s Twitter

 

Useful Links

Michael Schumacher

Ayrton Senna

Marussia Motors

Indianapolis 500

24 Hours of Le Mans

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ALL COMMENTS

5 Comments on "Max Chilton – Need For Speed"

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Member
7 months 12 days ago

Max is a fascinating person. Great interview 🙂

Brian Rose
Admin
10 months 22 days ago

I very much enjoyed talking to Max!

Jamie Curtis
Member
10 months 22 days ago

Fascinating insights as always Brian, and for me your skill as an interviewer really shone through when you got to that part about Jules tragic death: asking the tough questions and then quickly steering the conversation away to another topic without dwelling too long.

Loved the insight into the live simulation that accompanies each F1 race, so they can test new car set-ups and then make changes at the next pit stop in real time. Sounds very much like pivoting and failing forward! I’d take from that, that high performers must continually strive for improvement.

Member
10 months 23 days ago

Excellent thanks (@4Mark1)

Bart De Bruin
Member
10 months 24 days ago

Mental reset? THAT sounds incredibly interesting. I wonder if this works when you’re not involved in repetitive mechanics (golf swing/driving laps); resetting your mind while studying material/talking to people might keep you incredibly fresh. Max seems to be a pretty genuine guy too. Nice interview!

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