Mad Mike's MAD Life: Interview + World Documentary Release
From Formula Drift to pulling crazy stunts like #ConquertheCape, Mad Mike always leaves us wishing we could hop in his suitcase and follow along to all the cool stuff he does. Red Bull did that for us, so we can forgo the restraining order and instead dig into "The MAD Life" on Red Bull TV.
Before it hit, Driving Line caught up with Mike to hear more about one of his latest car builds, MADBUL Gen7.3, as well as what’s coming up next for him. As always, Mad Mike’s sincerity, passion and heart shone through…
Q&A With Mad Mike
Driving Line: During a previous interview you told us that a 4- or 6-rotor powered RX-3 would be your dream “fun” car. Is that what you just made the MADBUL to be?
Mad Mike: This is my RX-3 plus 4-rotor dream car. We used a well-proven chassis, our first full-drift chassis we built, that’s now seen many top podium seats from Formula Drift to Gatebil. It’s a very well-traveled car, well-used car, and a very successful one at that. MADBUL v7.3 has given me the opportunity to do the whole retro theme with it.
The RX-3 is not the most likely of drift cars, since as a classic it’s really hard to find the parts for. So I wanted to create something like an RX-3, but that I could still take out on the track and express my driving through. We tried to fuse them together and get the best of both worlds into something that is really unique.
DL: How long have you been planning this new version out?
MM: We worked with Miura-san of Rocket Bunny in Japan to develop this kit — trying to grasp, together with him, the whole RX-3 front, '70s-style over-fenders and duck bill wing.
As I put all my time into the U.S. FD championship last year, I was limited with time and have had the body kit in my shop since the start of last year. So a couple people’s builds using the kits had already been released, but not done in the way that I was envisioning it. Leading up to MADBUL v7.3’s release, a lot of people were saying that this would look terrible, but that’s part of the reason I do this — to execute something really unique and very much my style.
When people first saw it in person at the 4 & Rotary Nationals, it just blew up and was a great success. A ton of people came up to say just how much more awesome and aggressive it looks in person.
DL: Other than looks, has anything else changed about MADBUL v7.3?
MM: MADBUL is a great platform with a ton of heart. It’s not the most powerful car in FD, but it’s sound and has great Mazda history. For v7.3 the engine package has remained the same; we’ve just upgraded the computer to Haltech’s Elite engine management. On the suspension, the RADBUL has new 3-way adjustable KW Suspension. We’ve been working with them on development over the past few years, and now the entire BULpen fleet will run KW. For steering, we’ve had great success with the setup on HUMBUL, so we’ve fitted that steering kit to RADBUL now as well. And of course the Rotiform wheels. I’ve developed something unique with them which I think is really cool and anyone can go pick up a pair for themselves at Rotiform.
DL: Looking at Red Bull's finished "Mad Life" documentary, is there anything that you look back on over the past year that stands out?
MM: Filming "The Mad Life" documentary, we got to go to Japan and meet Yamamoto-san. He’s the chief designer of the 787B, which is the championship Le Mans-winning Mazda. It’s what inspired me to build the motor that’s in MADBUL. I got to sit down, hang out and spend a day with him talking about all my Mazdas — me with my cell phone and all my photos, and he with printed photo albums. We both showed the same passion, just years apart. I was surprised how much the same we are even though there’s of course the culture and age difference. Mazda’s motto of "Never stop challenging" fits both him and me to a T.
Being there and talking with him, I also learned a deeper story about the history of Mazda and how much they gave back into their community after the bomb in Hiroshima. They were the first factory producing vehicles, making these little 3-wheeled trucks, and they were literally just supplying them to the council to clean up with. Then by 1966, Mazda had created this rotary engine and were challenging themselves by putting it up against the greatest level of competition in circuit racing. Through all these years with lots of successful results and then winning Le Mans in 1991 with the 787B.
So MADBUL has lots of history of Japan and many elements that I aspire to in it, plus some inspirational people as well. When I presented Yamamoto-san with a signed poster of the RADBUL, the MX-5 — which is his invention as well — he broke down in emotion. It was his absolute dream to have both the 4-rotor and MX-5 come together in one car. Being part of all of it is just really cool.
DL: Does MADBUL v7.3 hit all the marks, or is there still something more?
MM: Every one of my cars is a dream build. I’m honored and privileged to be able to work with the world’s leading brands, and each time I’m building these cars, it is the dream car. Right now, MADBUL 7.3 is everything; it has so much of my history, the partners and is a collaboration with Red Bull and Mazda. I definitely wouldn’t change anything; I’ve gone as crazy as my mind can go. It’s a very competitive car, but it also oozes the style that I think drifting requires.
DL: What’s next for you this year?
MM: I feel like it's my time to give back a little, and so for 2017, I’m stepping outside of Formula Drift U.S.A. for a season to focus on some of that. I’m focusing on trying to grow Drift Shifters to a global series and also on building motorsports here in New Zealand.
Watch "The MAD Life" documentary over at Red Bull TV and keep your eye on @madmike.123.
Stay Tuned for More Mad Mike
Mad Mike's Summer Bash just hit New Zealand with a lot of opportunities for both professional and novice drifters to compete. His pending “Summer Camp” will provide an opportunity for newcomers to learn everything required to step up their drifting game, from driver technique to social media and sponsorship proposals. More announcements about these events will hit Mad Mike’s social channels.