Getting to know Scott Maxim, director of track support
CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2009) – Recently we caught up with Scott Maxim, the director of track support. Maxim travels to the racetrack each weekend and oversees the efforts of 11 engine tuners who work with Hendrick Motorsports and the teams that lease its engines in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.
Full name: Scott Maxim
Hometown: Augusta, Maine.
High School: Gardiner High School in Gardiner, Maine.
Job duties: We have an engine tuner that provides complete support for each team and I work with that group. We tune and prepare the engines and engine systems for the race, take the information that we gather from the racetrack and bring it back to the engine department and vice versa so there is communication going both ways.
How he got into engine tuning: I worked at Butler & Mac Master Automotive in Maine during high school, and we were building performance and racing engines at that time. I started going to the track supporting the engines at an early age and always enjoyed racing and the competitive aspect of it.
On what he’s listening to in the engine: For a prerace or a prepractice warmup, we are checking the overall engine systems—electrical, water, oil, fuel and ignition systems so there’s a process there where we’re checking for proper pressures and flows and proper carburetor and fuel system operation. You are listening for mechanical complications or an improperly running engine. When you hear the engine rev to a high rpm we are checking the ignition timing. That’s done at a pre-set higher rpm to match the engine speed on the racetrack.
Time at current job: I’m in my 11th year. I’ve been at Hendrick Motorsports for 13 years. For the first two, I was the engine tuner for the No. 25 car.
Years in racing: 27 years in racing overall. I have been racing since 1982—that was a local late model sportsman division. Through the mid-80s it was the American Canadian Tour, with Ricky Craven. I worked with Ricky from 1984 to 1998.
On what it was like to be a part of history when Hendrick Motorsports finished the 1997 Daytona 500 1-2-3: That was my first race. There was a lot of preparation that went into the week, and I was coming from a single car team that I previously had worked with. Oh yeah I’ll never forget it. I didn’t really know what to expect after that when I showed up for the first engine department meeting on Monday morning. I still remember all the thanks and congratulations from everybody and how everybody was so happy. It was a bright spot there for the company, and I’ve still got a picture on the wall to this day of it.
First racing job: Helping my uncle at a local short track. I was 15 years old when he raced. He won two track championships at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine.
First job overall: Working at the engine building shop of Butler & Mac Master Automotive as an automotive machinist.
Best racing memory: I have a few. One that always sticks out happened in 1991 when Ricky Craven won the Oxford 250. At that time, that race was a national event that was the Busch South and the Busch North series combined. It was a very prestigious short track race and included a lot of Cup drivers. That was our Daytona 500 at the time.
Certainly you also think of the 1-2-3 finish in the 1997 Daytona 500. It would be hard not to rank that as No. 1. But the 2004 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway also was special because Randy loved Indy and you look back on that as a special time. We’ve got a lot of fun pictures and great memories from that race.
Hobbies outside of racing: Wine collecting and Boston Red Sox baseball. All New England sports, really.
Favorite sport other than racing: I love them all, really. But I’d have to say baseball.
On an off weekend you can find me: We’re going to see the Red Sox play this weekend. But on an off weekend, I’m just trying to spend time with my family; on our back porch having a nice California Cab or something.
On where he picked up his wine hobby: I got into it from spending time with Randy (Dorton, Hendrick’s legendary engine director) in Sonoma when we would go out there and race. We took advantage of some wine tours.
Favorite movies: “The Bourne Identity” trilogy.
Favorite music: Rock and heavy metal.
Dream car: A McLaren F1. I got to ride in one once with Bill Auberlen, an accomplished Le Mans road racer, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. I’ve been in some fast cars, but that one there was really fast. The braking really surprised me more than the acceleration because those cars brake so aggressively. I thought there’s no way we’re going to make this corner, and he just drove it all the way in.
If I could meet anyone, I’d meet: Muhammad Ali. I always thought the era he grew up in and the civil rights issues that he endured and his accomplishments in and out of the ring were amazing.
Favorite food: Italian.
Before the race, I always: Yell “fire in the hole,” and that’s because an old mechanic back in my early Cup days said it gets the demons out from under the hood. I figure it’s worth a shot.
I knew I wanted a job in NASCAR after: I had the opportunity to become part owner of a race team with Ricky Craven. Then I realized I could make it a job. That first year (1994) we finished second in the championship standings, 46 points behind David Green.