Racing champion Max Wilson explains how martial arts training helped his driving career
A StockCar racing vehicle can reach 168 mph at full speed – Max Wilson topped the speed several times during the 2010 season to win the biggest championship in stockcar racing in Brazil. A former Williams Formula 1 team test driver and IndyCar driver, Wilson credits martial arts as part of his career progression.
“It’s amazing how sports in general, like judo, helped me a lot in my racing career in terms of balance and center of gravity with the levers,” Wilson told MMA Fighting. Franc exchange. “It has to do with the sport in which I am a professional. You have to be precise in fighting, that precision in racing, and martial arts gives you that, in the same way that racing in a kart or a car would add a lot to the career of a professional fighter.
Still active when not working as a color commentator for Formula 1 in Brazil, Wilson loves to put on the gloves and train. Wilson’s first try at martial arts was judo at the age of 2. Since then he has trained in jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and kung fu. Wilson currently trains Muay Thai under the same roof as former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at Chute Boxe Diego Lima.
“The two sports are very similar. To be resilient, to deal with frustration. For example, I practice every week with my coach Kaue [Favero] and I punch him like once every session,” Wilson said with a laugh, comparing them to racing and wrestling. “To deal with that frustration and have the resilience to deal with a difficult situation and try to bounce back and not give up, that’s a really positive thing. Frustration is something negative in life, and you can turn that into a positive.’
Early in his racing career, long before he was even close to being considered for a Formula 1 team, Wilson heard a quote from heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson that changed his life, “waking up at 4am because my opponent wouldn’t do it”. do it, and it gives me an advantage.”
“I’m not going to say that I set my alarm for 4 a.m., because I know that’s not what you mean in conversation,” Wilson said, “but it’s effort, dedication, to somehow outdo yourself and others. That’s the message I got and I still carry with me.
“Racing and fighting are not individual sports in a way, because the driver has a team around him, and so do the fighters, but when you’re competing you’re there alone, you don’t have the ball thrown at you, so the two sports are similar. A lot depends on you and your dedication, your discipline.’
Photo via Miguel Costa Junior
Inspired by the influence of Bruce Lee and his films to try martial arts in real life, Wilson has participated in small jiu-jitsu tournaments in Sao Paulo, but racing eventually took over his interest. Coach Favero is still trying to convince him to do an amateur Muay Thai in 2023, and the 50-year-old Wilson won’t rule it out just yet, but he knows he has to be careful as he remains active as a racer.
Although he never competed in the amateurs, Wilson will forever be associated with martial arts. From being a fan of Royce Gracie in the UFC 1 days, to admiring the likes of Marco Ruas, Pedro Rizzo and Jose Aldo for decades to come, Wilson enjoys watching Oliveira compete now, and it’s not just because they’re teammates.
“Charles’ story is inspiring just like other athletes, like Jose Aldo’s,” Wilson said. “The big thing about Charles is that unlike most UFC champions, he’s had bad results for a while, he’s had ups and downs, but he still went there to win the belt. Champions usually win a bunch in a row, or at least like nine out of 10, and eventually win the belt.
“Charles probably went 5-5 out of 10 fights the times he had, and that’s a credit to his endurance and perseverance. Few people have that resilience. Charles is an example not only to athletes, but to anyone. If you want something, go after it, try it. again. If you do that, you will be able to succeed in anything in life.”