Speed and Custom
SPEED FREAKS: MAD MIKE & LINCOLN WHIDDETT
CELEBRATING BURGERFUEL'S 26TH BIRTHDAY
We're in the final lap! It's the last week of our birthday month and last chance to enter the draw to win one of 10 full throttle Hypercar experiences in some of the world's most innovative modern luxury and performance sports cars.
All month we've been chatting to some friends of the fuel, and legitimate speed freaks, to find out more about their passion for going full throttle.
Meet Mad Mike and Lincoln Whiddett, the father and son sensation drifting their way through the world of motorsport. Mad Mike is a world famous drifting legend on the track and the ultimate father figure. His dominance in the international scene has led to his son, Lincoln, following in his footsteps. Going full throttle and burning more than rubber as he rises through the ranks, creating his own legacy, something Mad Mike is extremely proud of.
We can’t get enough of their talent and energy and were lucky to have a catch up, learning about both of their journeys and what’s around the corner!
Photo Credit: Graeme Murray
Mike, you're up first.
You’re the true embodiment of a Speed Freak and you’ve had that intensity since you were very young - does this need for speed fuel any other passions outside of motorsports?
Yeah, in my childhood I would try everything. Growing up with my solo mum, we didn't have a lot of money, however she gave me a lot of freedom. While she would ride her horse each weekend, you would find me building jumps for my BMX bike, building Radio Control cars and sending them off jumps or thrashing my old clapped out DS80 around the paddocks. I did skateboarding, breakdancing, surfing, graffiti art, a bit of everything, and I still enjoy doing most of this now - it keeps me young! Haha.
What was the very first car you owned?
1978 Mazda 323. I was only 13 but back then, a car like this you could easily pick up from the Trade & Exchange for $100. Man, this was the buzz every Thursday before school, scrolling the pages at like 5am to find the next best deal.
An absolute classic. Freestyle Motocross is responsible for your nickname, tell us what sparked your interest in racing 2-wheels at such a young age?
Mum and I lived in a small one bedroom unit but every weekend we would head to my Aunty's farm where mum would ride her horse. Mum bought me a clapped out old DS80 2stroke farm bike - that to me was the absolute dream! I would thrash it, crash it, break it but then have to try figure out how to fix it myself with no father around so I have been self-taught since being a grom. I went through a few bikes and raced very competitively through my teens running at the pointy end of the field. Unfortunately racing got too expensive for Mum to keep up with the maintenance and she hated seeing me in hospital all the time so I would fill my time building Rotary Engines and swapping them into different old cars.
In 1999, I hire purchased my own motocross bike and got invited to ride at New Zealand’s first ever FMX demo at Big Day Out. This was freak'n huge and also at the event, the commentator started calling me Mad Mike - I hated the name at the start but it just stuck and now has turned to into our brand.
What brought on the transition to drifting and what is it about the sport that you love?
The transition for me was perfect timing as I had a long string of serious crashes in FMX, the last was breaking my back and being told I wouldn't walk again. Around the same time, Toni and I heard about this Drifting Championship event at Pukekohe so we went and watched. The first car that came flying down into the sweeper blazing sideways at speeds approx. 180km/h was what got me hooked instantly - I looked straight to Toni and she said "Damn you could do this!"
We straight away listed everything we had on TradeMe, including Toni’s show winning Mercedes Benz that we had built with full air ride, a Lexus V8 twin turbo, a DB winning sound system, LV paint and shaved handles. Toni was actually the first female ever to win KING of Auto Salon and has so many trophies with that car 'XBENZV', and well, that also got sold. Next was my Skidfest winning, burnout winning, show winning, street legal (kind of) 76 Mazda 808 Wagon, 'FURSTY', arguably the most known Rotary from NZ in its time - yep that was a very hard decision but it had to go. Motocross bikes, BMX's, skateboards, VHS players, T.V's - everything went towards funding our first drift car which is still my favourite in my collection now dubbed 'MADBUL'.
Photo Credit: AirJek
That’s incredible commitment. What do you love most about drifting?
Damn, there is so much to list but a few of the main points would be of course the speed, adrenalin & fear I get as a driver pushing our sport to its extremes. The show side of it and expressing my personality and style by the way I drive my cars for the fans as the fans are what really do it for me. It's such an honour to be partnered with some of the world’s biggest brands that allow me to do this full time traveling the world, meeting RAD people, making great friends and giving the spectators their $20 worth.
I really love the design and build process of all my cars. I love to be unique and be the first to do things. The team spirit of 'never stop challenging', makes the wins so much more rewarding and I hope my story of life can inspire others to chase their dreams. Motivation and determination is far more powerful than money.
Did you try your hand at any other motorsports along the way? Or did drifting have you hooked from the get-go?
I have fortunately been able to try many different motorsports and have managed to get some strong results in GT3's with Tony Quinn, racing the SuperSaloons, winning the NZ Stadium Super Truck class in my Rotary powered Stadium Truck, and V8 Jet Sprint boats. I just love that next challenge!
As an ambassador of the sport and supported by a long list of renowned brands, you’re now living the dream. Undoubtedly your success is due to some serious tenacity, drive and determination - what were the main challenges you faced coming up in drifting?
The hardest part for us was turning it from a hobby to a career. I mean this would be a never ending story if I was to write all the challenges. Every day to me is another challenge thinking about what's next then creating the strategy and then making it reality. Toni and I work around the clock to make these things happen.
The hardest part was early on, it was far harder to get sponsors and partnerships. Drifting was widely perceived as just a bunch of boy racers, so the challenge was getting people to come out and witness the sport in person to smell it, breath it and be blown away with the precision driving and speeds all the drivers were showcasing.
I was the first to show up with posters for the kids, merchandise, a website and the sort of stuff adults would come to as their kids would drag them from round to round, and obviously as companies clicked on, many of the drivers started getting decent support. I personally think the biggest boost for drifting in NZ was when Red Bull jumped onboard our program, and of course this was a dream for me but equally the sport instantly gained the credibility it deserved. The world knows if Red Bull are involved, it's freak'n serious.
Can you share any life highlights to date?
FAMILY, from never meeting my Dad, to trying to be the best one to my kids, I am just so grateful to have my amazing super chick Toni, and our incredible groms, Linc & Jett. The sport of drifting has taken us all around the world together and has created some epic highlights.
What kind of demand is there on the body when you compete and what kind of physical shape do you need to be in to be at the top of your game? Do you need to smash it out at the gym regularly?
For sure, for me I want to be the best I can be. People invest a lot in me so I want to invest everything I can to be the best for them. I'm definitely not the guy that has a scheduled plan of the exact days per week in the gym, our life is too hectic for that with so much always going on but having a home gym, a shed full of bikes, boards and kids wanting to charge, keeps me where I need to be physically. Mentally I have a personal sports psychologist that helps incredibly with my performance on and off the track.
You’ve got an enviable line up of machines at the Mad Lab - MADBUL (RX7), BADBUL (RX8), RADBUL (MX5), MADCAB (Luce) and NIMBUL (Huracan). What’s your favourite machine in the fleet and why?
Yeah, well you listed a few of them but the favourite is MADBUL, this was my very first drift car. We’ve travelled around the world multiple times together, won some of the biggest championships and represented drifting to the elite tares of motorsport at the F1 Demo's and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We’ve created some of the most viewed drifting YouTube clips, wrecked into walls, and spent late nights at the shop. No offer would allow this car to leave my stables.
Any hot rods or classics in the Whiddett garage?
Yep, my favourite era of cars is the 70's and being such a rotary enthusiast, we have a few in the fleet - a 73 Mazda s2 RX2 sedan and two cars that I'm building right now, Toni's fresh and very unique, 77 Mazda Cosmo RX5, and in my eyes the holy grail of Mazda, a wild Mazda RX3 GT Coupe. I’ve been teasing these cars through social media, and I plan to reveal them in December at my MM Summer BASH Hampton Downs event. Watch this space!
Your drifting career has seen you travel the world. Covid aside, is there any track or terrain you’re yet to experience and keen to?
Yeah, usually about 30 international events a year plus all the events we do back home keeps me entertained. I've been the first to drift on many tracks around the world and my favourite is right here in NZ, being Highlands Motorsport Park. I do have a MEGA list of roads and tracks I want to film and compete on but I believe anything leaked before it's done won’t happen.
How would you describe your driving style, on and off the track?
Violent on track, terrible off track. I mean I can park damn good in a Drift Shifters competition sliding into a tight finishing box on the handbrake with only seconds to spare, but when parking at the local mall, I'll always be crooked or off to one side so half the family can't get out the car.
You’re clearly a source of absolute inspiration for your kids. Are there any pearls of wisdom you’ve passed on to Lincoln, when it comes to racing, that you think has contributed to his competitive edge and success to date?
He has my no fear driving style, but from his Mum, he is very calculated and always works out an amazing strategy in his own head for his racing. He needs to watch out as his little sister Jett is more competitive than both of us!
Lookout! Which brings us to you, Linc.
What did you get up to at the Madhouse during lockdown? Doesn’t look like there’s too much to keep you occupied on the home front!
Time is easily filled up around the MadHouse with activities. I still had online school work but spent a lot of time doing manu's into the pool, jumping our BMX bikes onto the DD air bag, thrashing the motocross track, and playing with RC cars and my sister (we actually had Red Bull come out and shoot a short film 'Red Bull Backyards'), but most excitingly, was building my Mazda MX5 NOKIDN.
Do you share in your old man’s RC car hobby?
Yep and he is great at breaking them all the time! I have some great support from Hobby City so we have quite a large range of RC toy's.
Your journey so far has seen you master a range of motorsports such as KiwiTruck, Super450 ModKarts, MX Bikes and now drifting – which do you find the most rewarding and why?
Well I've been racing the KiwiTrucks since I was 7 and really enjoyed racing and battling the teenagers. I love Off Road Racing because its drifting, jumping, roosting, banging doors, rolling and getting dirty. Now drifting I've only just started but I've picked it up fast, I guess I've been driving karts and battery powered kids cars before I could even walk thanks to Dad, so I find learning the new disciplines fun.
You were awarded a special dispensation to race in the Super450 class at the NZ Stadium Off-road Champs in Feb this year. And you went on to win the national title and racing against the adults in the 1000cc UTV class, you absolute legend. How did that make you feel, competing against these guys and dominating?
It was awesome to get the dispensation to allow me to run in a class with the adults, getting to prove myself against them in their 1000cc UTV's. It was a cool event with big crowds and an amazing track prepped USA style. Dad was there racing too, he got 1st equal in the big class (but I was still faster than him in testing). It sure was a very busy day for our team to keep both our trucks flying on track.
Well, it looks sick. How would you describe your drifting style?
I don't know what my style really is yet as I'm just trying to link each corner together. From the clips on my Instagram, people do comment saying I have Dads clutch kicking style. I try to drive like him on my driving simulator doing backwards entries and 360's everywhere, so I hope I have his aggressive style.
What's next for you? Where will we see you next competing?
We have events on the calendar but these are being pushed into 2022. For now, we are going hard doing an engine conversion into my MX5 (yes another Dad hand me down from his Japan based #ICEBUL so NOKIDN is going from 180hp to 500hp which excites me). We are racing to get it finished for the MM Summer BASH on Dec 4th, where I will reveal it and will be selling hot laps for people to ride with me in the cruising class.
We can't wait to see it and will continue to follow your journey.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Mike: RX3 GT Coupe
Lincoln: FC RX7
Most memorable spill?
Mike: Breaking my back at 2002 Vodafone X-Air
Lincoln: Breaking my arm at the BMX track
Favourite racetrack or terrain?
Mike: Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, NZ
Lincoln: Crandon Motorsport Park (Off Road Racing track in USA)
Any superstitious habits or pre-race rituals?
Mike: My mental preparation usually starts as I'm boarding my flight for the next event. I also use breath work when in moments of high pressure to settle my mind and adrenaline
Lincoln: I just try keep calm and stay hydrated
Favourite BurgerFuel burger?
Mike: Burnout with no tomato - perfection!
Lincoln: Lamburghini - yet to be created. Lol