Masters Historic

Ron Maydon : "There have been many challenges over the years"

Masters Historic Racing
8 Dec. 2023 • 17:03
Ron Maydon’s Q&A
Photo : Masters Historic

Can you share the story behind the creation of Masters Historic Racing? How did this extraordinary journey begin?

I was in America visiting a friend many years ago and I saw a car. I didn’t really know what it was, but I took some pictures of it in a garage under a tarpaulin and sent them to a friend of mine who came back and said, “That’s a 1963 Cooper Formula One car, with an Alfa Romeo engine, one of the last cars they built.” So, I bought it and shipped the car back to the UK.


I went off and got my race licence and then turned up at my first event at Silverstone with my wife and children. Clearly, I was going to set the world on fire with my natural talent! I came last and was lapped after two laps! To top that off, it was very cold and very wet, and my family had nowhere to go to sit in the dry whilst I was racing. So, not to be deterred, I then went to the next event, which was on Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France, and, once again, the racing result was similar, but this time it was extremely hot. I phoned home and said to my wife, it’s so hot, it’s unbearable and there is nothing to eat or drink. And she told me not to moan about it and either sell the car or do something about it.


So, from that, I started to think about what was possible. Do I pack up now and sell my Cooper? Or do I try to improve and do something about the fact that there was nowhere to go between races.


From those initial racing experiences, I set out to start Masters. I bought a hospitality trailer and decided to do hospitality at the race events. And whilst my driving didn’t improve that much, the hospitality and the racing did. We started out doing hot drinks, sandwiches, ice creams or whatever we could. Masters started from those humble beginnings back in 2004.


What sets your racing series apart from other motorsports events or series?


I am very happy with what we have achieved at Masters over the years. I didn’t set out to do budget racing nor to provide a high-end catering experience. However, I think Masters has found its niche in providing professionally managed historic motor racing with a social element and team camaraderie in the paddocks. We offer a good selection of different race series, so whether you have one car or several, we can offer some great events to race at.

I think most people like to have somewhere as a hub where they can get good food, sit and chat with their friends in comfort, grab a bacon roll in the morning and be fed well through the weekend. What we aim to do is cater at a level between the high-end hospitality that some events do very well, but at a huge cost, and the lower end of the market where you get to race, but that’s about it! I like to think we have got the balance between the offer and the cost spot on!


Reflecting on the journey, how has Masters Historic Racing evolved and grown since its inception?

Masters has changed so much since we started out in 2004! For our first year, we just had one grid for historic Formula One cars, and I quickly realised that if we wanted to make Masters work, we needed to focus on bringing more cars and drivers to events!


We have tried a number of different grids over the years – some worked, some haven’t, but you can’t say we didn’t try! Some years, we took on too much – back in 2008, we committed to 21 events in the UK and Europe – that was a busy year! However, I like to think we have learnt new things each year, listened to our competitors and tried to put on some great races around the world!


What were some of the pivotal challenges faced in building the series, and how were they overcome?

There have been many challenges over the years... I remember turning up at Zandvoort for the first running of the Historic GP there back in 2012. We had cancellation after cancellation for the historic formula one grid and ended up with an appalling grid of 8 cars. I took myself off for a walk along the beach, wondering what the hell we were doing! But I gave myself a good talking to and then came back to the circuit to enjoy the event! And this year, we had a grid of 30+ historic F1 cars on the track.


I think we have been good at recognising and understanding over the years that we don’t always get it right, and we have been happy to make changes to improve things when we have needed to. Also, we have always had the courage to try new things.


Can you share some memorable moments or races that have left an indelible mark on the history of your passionate series?

That’s a really difficult one to answer as there have been so many...! I have to say that racing in Singapore in 2014 as part of the Formula 1 Grand Prix was amazing. We only had 6 weeks to organise the event from the initial approach from the organisers to arriving in Singapore with 24 historic Formula One cars. It was quite an achievement to make it all happen and we had a fantastic weekend too to top it off!


We also had the opportunity to take cars to Suzuka, Japan in 2018 & 2019. It was such a unique experience and the Japanese fans were the most enthusiastic I have ever seen at a circuit! Suzuka was also the most amazing circuit to drive.


It’s always been my passion to race at iconic North America circuits and that was one of the reasons to start our series in North America in 2014. Although it has taken up some air miles, the chance to tick off racing at road circuits such as Watkins Glen and Mosport is bucket-list stuff – both of those circuits are something to behold!


But, more than the racing, it has been the people we have met along the ride, the drivers and organisers throughout the years.

And then, of course, dealing with Bernie Ecclestone left an indelible mark on me. To me, he is a giant of a man!


Looking ahead, what can enthusiasts anticipate in the upcoming season, and are there exciting developments or innovations on the horizon?

I think we have a great schedule to look forward to in 2024. It balances some of the events we attend year-on-year, such as Brands Hatch, Zandvoort, Silverstone and Spa. But it also adds some different options at Paul Ricard, Brno and Mugello to keep it fresh.


Series-wise, we are comfortable with the six mains grids we are running in the UK & Europe at the moment, and they play a consistent part in our schedule for next year.


The Masters GT Trophy was a new addition last year, and although we didn’t get everything right in the series first year, we have some new ideas for this coming year, and I am sure that is a grid that is going to grow and grow.


My own passion is still with the Masters Racing Legends for 1966/1985 F1 cars, and it was fantastic to see such strong grids and great racing last year for that grid. As 2024 is also a Monaco Historic GP year, I am sure that we will see some great racing there, and I am also planning on getting my LEC F1 car onto the grid!


What drew you to entrust GP Extreme, Fred Fatien and his team with the stewardship of Masters Historic Racing?

A birthday cake! At the Monaco Historic Grand Prix in 2016! Fred found out it was my birthday and presented me with a birthday cake in the pit garage, and it struck me that he was a genuine person. And, all these years later, I still feel the same. We also seem to have the same taste in unique and eclectic cars!


Fred and I got talking at Zandvoort earlier this year, and I mentioned that I was looking for options for what to do with Masters to secure its future. I am 73 next year, and it's time for me to step back from day-to-day work and focus on enjoying more time with my wife, family and friends! As I was talking to Fred, he seemed to understand what Masters needed as well as being passionate about historic cars. The whole concept stemmed from there, and the more I talk to Fred, the more I know that he and his team at GP Extreme are going to do a fantastic job with Masters.


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