Casey Annis speaks with historic racer and founder of The Masters Series, Ron Maydon, about why he chose to start a new series, the future challenges to historic racing and the best and worst cars he’s ever driven.
How and when did you first become involved with cars?
Maydon: I was into Motocross during the ’70s but stopped that when children arrived It was actually 2001 that I brought my first race car – a 1968 Cooper F1 car. Before that, I had no real interest in racing.
What was your first car?
Maydon:A 1957 gold Humber!
When were you first bitten by the racing bug?
Maydon:The Cooper started it all for me….
What was your first racecar?
Maydon:The 1968 Cooper T68C
What prompted you to you start The Masters?
Maydon:I brought the Cooper F1 car, which I started racing. I was at Silverstone for a race and it was very wet and very cold. My wife and three young kids were with me and said, ‘If it’s like this every time, we will never join you again’. The next event was at Le Mans-Bugatti, and it was so hot. My wife said, ‘I can’t find a cool drink anywhere. Either you stop racing, or do something.’ Then I thought I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s too hot, too cold or too wet. The idea of Masters sprang from that! The funny thing is that five or six years later every series was doing hospitality, and drivers were going from one feast to another!
What was that first Masters race like for you?
Maydon:We turned up at Pau, in May 2004, with a grid of 14 historic F1 cars. We had a truck, we had a hospitality unit, we had two lovely German girls making sandwiches, and we even had a coffee barista. We opened the doors – and nobody came in! Everyone just walked past, we looked like we were from another planet. The next day, it wasn’t much better. It was hot, we had ice creams – and still nobody came. The third day it rained, and suddenly the place was packed. Everyone was looking for shelter! We never looked back from there.
Any events since then particularly stand out in your mind?
Maydon:I wouldn’t pick any one out—all have their plusses and minuses. But it’s a combination of atmosphere and spirit, and what the organizers, promoters and competitors bring to the event. Sometimes it just comes together. A good example is the Silverstone Classic. In its earliest days it didn’t have the correct spirit between those three elements. Now, I’m looking forward to going there – it has changed from a big event, to a great event.
What are the most pressing challenges you see historic racing in the near term?
Maydon:I think the increasing value of original race cars will prevent people driving them on a regular basis. If the cars are not driven and raced regularly then it will mean that it is financially unsustainable for organisers and promoters, such as Masters, to exist It’s a Catch 22 situation and one of the reasons that I welcome and support authentic FIA inspected and approved replicas.
Running a series on another continent is a huge challenge, what made you want to expand into the North American market?
Maydon:I knew the organizers of Historic Grand Prix and saw their activities declining over a period of time whilst Masters was expanding. I was invited to see a couple of HGP races in the US and liked what I saw and the idea spread from there! I also have 2 daughters that live in the US and thought it would be a good way to see them more! Although, in reality, that hasn’t quite worked out as planned and still leads to separate trips to America
Ideally, where would you like to see The Masters progress to, in the next 5 years?
Maydon: For me, I want nothing more than creditability from our peers.
What cars do you currently enjoy in your collection?
Maydon: In case my wife or accountant read this lets just say “Sufficient.” My next car is always my favorite car! All joking aside, racing a period correct FIA Mini Cooper S in a grid full of other identical cars is as much fun as a man is entitled to have at my age. From the F1 cars, I call my LEC the “Fat Boy” car as it is very wide, comfy and easy to drive!
What was the best and worst car (race or road) you’ve ever owned and why?
Maydon:The Minis fit into the best and worst category! A Mini is the most fun to drive, but also makes no sense when you drive them fast, they defy logic.
Finally, if a genie were to pop out of a bottle and grant you one automotive wish, what’s the one car you’d desperately love to own, if money were no object?
Maydon:The Tyrrell P34 6-wheeler