Catching up with Max Filipek
December 12, 2016
by Dawn McClintock
Photos by Billy Rainford
This week we chat with the likeable Max Filipek from Grimsby, Ontario as he makes his plans for next season with a renewed enthusiasm, a top-notch fitness program and lots of plans both sides of the border.
How long have you been racing?
I’ve been racing since 2010. We started kind of late. I didn’t really want to race when I was little and my dad kind of pushed me to try it. Eventually I got on 65s and I did a couple of small club races like TVR in the fall and I’ve been racing ever since.
What series are you currently racing?
This past year we did a little bit of AMO. We didn’t do that many, just the ANQs and then we did western New York. We did a couple of races down there but I found the competition was a bit stiffer in Canada so we stayed around here. We did some Loretta Lynn qualifiers.
How did your 2016 season go for you?
It went really, really well considering the way the past year went in 2015. I had a lot of struggles with fitness and injuries and my head just wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t really want to ride any more and my dad was like, ‘let’s give it one more try’. He got me a 450 and we went down to Rob and Sherry at Real Deal and I worked really hard. Rob really got my head in the right place and Sherry got my fitness on point. I came in really strong the following year. I came out for my first race at Melbourne and I went out and rode the best that I could and I got a third overall in 450B. I just kept getting better and better as the year went on and I can’t really say there was much of a struggle.
Really? So maybe the 450 made a big difference for you?
It really seemed like it got me using my head a lot more when I was riding because you have to ride smart and respect the power that you get. I even rode way better on my 250 in the beginning of the year after riding the 450.
What classes will you be riding next year?
In Canada I will be doing 250 Intermediate, 450 Intermediate and the Open and in the states I will be doing 450B, 250B both stock and mod.
So you are planning to head back down to do Loretta Lynn qualifiers then?
I’d like to try to do some to make it in there. This past year I had a bit of bad luck at the regional. I just had a little mishap. Hopefully this year I will have some better luck. We would like to go back to Real Deal in January and we will probably hit some of the Florida Winter Games and Gatorback Park, the Alabama Spring National and we aren’t sure if we will do the Spring Nationals in Texas yet. It’s really, really far and we have to be back home to work. We will do Loretta Lynn qualifiers, AMO, ANQ for Walton and then the TransCan and we might try our hand a couple of pro nationals too. Maybe try Gopher and RJs.
Tell us a little bit about your Mini Os experience.
That was my first time there and my first time at a big national race like that. I loved it! I would go back a million times over. The atmosphere was great. It was laid back. The competition was stiff which I like. There were a lot of big names there. Seeing those A riders and even some B riders was really cool to see what they were doing. It helped me to see where I am going from there. I thought I did pretty good. Respectable finishes. I thought I could have done a little bit better but I will take what I got. We had some bike issues so it was hard not to get frustrated with that. What I found was that I need to ignore that it was that big of an event with all those riders. I went out there for my first supercross practice and I was riding kind of stiff and I was thinking about that kind of stuff and I realized I had to get it out of my head. After that I rode great, I rode loose, just the way I should have. On the Saturday before the event there was an open practice there and our chain snapped and it knocked the clutch slave off of the bike and we repaired it but over the course of the week it started to lose fluid. When we got to the motocross portion in the limited class, I was on the start gate and the clutch just started to go away and I started hitting the gate. That was the one I didn’t qualify for. I ended up getting a terrible start and ran the whole race without a clutch. I made it up to qualifying position but in the last corner I stalled because I had no clutch. 15th overall in the B class, we are pretty happy with that.
Who has inspired you the most?
I would have to say Rob Burkhart from Real Deal. He could be off doing some other job opportunity to be making more money or doing this or that but he’s at Real Deal training kids who love going there. He loves seeing improvement and he loves seeing them get better as a rider but also as a person. It’s really cool to see that passion. Every single rider that comes through there no matter what age. They treat everyone just the same.
Do you have any rituals on the gate or leading up to race time?
Right before my race I like to do some jumping jacks to get a little loose and get warmed up. I’ll say a little prayer to myself and to everyone who is watching over me.
What is the best part of motocross?
I think it’s the atmosphere. I’ve played different sports. I’ve played basketball and nothing is the same. Even when you go home after racing, your motocross friends are so much different than your friends at home. There’s a different feeling being there. It’s so nice. You just look forward to it all week during the summer when you are training and working. I love the atmosphere.
If you could pick just one track, what would be your favourite?
I would probably have to say I like Hog Heaven in North Carolina. I don’t know if they run them much any more. It was kind of sandy. They put a lot of work into that track. It was super fun to ride. You could just ride all day long and you never got bored of it. My favourite track in Canada would have to be Moto Park. You can’t compare it to anything else. I love that place. We always do a Thanksgiving weekend ride there and a bunch of families and friends get together and it’s just such a good time.
What do you do for training when you are off the track?
I work out 5 days a week and I usually do cardio pretty much every day. I do a core on Monday, bike on Tuesday, upper body on Wednesday and Thursday is my cardio day so I go a little bit harder on the cardio and I do yoga day on Friday just to keep my muscles loosened. Sherry really helps me out with those workouts. She provides them for me. She really helped me out with my fitness because it really wasn’t there before and now it’s really improved. I’ve lost 20 pounds since last year.
You must clock a lot of hours on the road with your dad. Any funny road trip stories?
I don’t know why but everytime he eats in the car, he will be on his last bite or his second last bite and he will spill it on himself every single time. [laughs]
Where do you see things headed for 2017 for you?
I have an open mind. Try and keep a positive attitude. Keep pushing forward. I would like to get some more support. All of the top kids here in Canada are getting rides and it’s still coming out of our pockets still and I would like a little more support. Hopefully this year I can get even better finishes and get my name out there more and hopefully we can get some more help.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?
Hopefully I will be running the whole pro national series is the goal. I’d like this next year to hopefully be my last amateur year and get up there with the big guys.
Thanks for taking time to chat with us Max. Do you have a list of people you would like to thank?
Thank you. We really appreciate it. I’d like to thank SunGuardAwnings.com, Zdeno Cycle, FXR, Dirt Tricks Sprockets, Works Connection Ride Engineering, No Toil, Deft Family, ODI Grips, Acerbis, Dunlop, MotoNorth.ca, Dragon Alliance, Suspension Systems, Rob and Sherry Burkhart from Real Deal Mx Training Facility.