This week mindbodyandroll® took on a new dynamic again by speaking with yet another incredibly talented young professional, this time diving into the world of Professional Racing; not often we get to gain such an insight as to what goes on behind the wheel and off the grid!
He’s probably one of the nicest guys you’d come across and his work ethic is incredible! After this interview you too will become a fan of this young man, because you’ll not only respect what goes on behind the scenes, but see that it’s not just about racing, it’s about teamwork/collaboration and a whole lot of patience and professionalism too!
It is without further or do, my great please to introduce Matt George!
Tell us who you are, where you are from (or where you reside), and how long you have been racing?
I’m Matt George, I’m 24 years old and I live near Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, I am coming into my 5th year of professional motorsport but the racing journey started when I was 9 years old 15 years ago.
Were you a good kid at school?
I wouldn’t have said I was the role model child, to be honest, was a bit of a trouble maker but somehow when it all came down to the tough stuff managed to pull through with some results.
How did you first get into racing? What made you want to do it?
I actually always had a drive not really sure wherefrom to be a motocross racer. However, having tried it and been particularly awful, somehow at a friend’s birthday party found a real love for karting, even though initially was equally terrible at that it was a complete switch in what I had my heart set on.
What’s it like being part of a team like Team Generation AMR and getting to drive an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 at full-throttle around a track?
Driving these amazing cars is incredible and to be honest, sometimes you really have to take a reality check and remember what your doing is amazing as when it is your every day it does gain an element of norm to it, however, traveling and driving such an amazing car and being a British guy in one of the most iconic brands there is and meeting all the fans certainly reminds you what you do is amazing.
I have been lucky enough to compete at lemans and the driver parade really hits home how cool that combination is, and I mean being a part of Generation AMR one of the best teams around and basically family to me now gives you a huge element of pride as you walk!
What’s the cars 0-60mph and what’s the quickest you’ve clocked it on a straight?
The 0-60 of the car is a fraction under 3.5 seconds and the fastest I have personally been being 195mph, race tracks actually don’t tend to have straights long enough to fully max out the top speed but it still feels incredibly fast
Matt, how was it working with Team Invictus? That must have been truly amazing!
I was lucky enough to be a part of a never done before project where we created a privately funded Racing Team by an amazing pair of people who wanted to do something for charity, with the idea of helping WIS Veterans (Wounded Injured Sick) on their road to recovery through sport, all this in partnership with Prince Harrys charity the Invictus Games Foundation.
Was an incredible process to be involved in personally; everything from design and development of the race car, to training and coaching in all aspects of the sport; to go from having never raced before to compete in the hardest GT championship in the world, which tested me also in my knowledge and coaching abilities as the guys had many more challenges and a lack of understanding that reached beyond sitting in the car
One of the highlights of the process, as a team we went down to the Royal Marine Training centre for a few days to do a bit of a role reversal. To start off being allowed through those gates as general members of the public does not happen, to being treated with no favouritism to train for a few days as a Marine would, only to be topped by a royal visit from Prince Harry himself who couldn’t wait to have a sit in the car and meet the team, he followed and kept up with our progress very closely and was more than over the moon when the team received its first win 2 years into the project!
Unfortunately, the project under its current funding is over now, but the team is looking to reappear and keep the journey going if all the stars align and we are able to do so.
Professional Racing seems to have taken on the dynamic of having ever-younger drivers behind the wheels of these incredible machines, does being young have its advantages and disadvantages in any way, can you elaborate?
It has its advantages in that you have time to grow in the industry time to learn how to be a proper professional and what that entails, usually, a slight lack of fear for sure helps to be able to turn off everyday life not necessarily having a family of your own, kids, etc to go home for.
But, its disadvantages in that all teams want the most polished driver they can get most experienced safest pair of hands, also motorsport is a business, with huge sponsors and financial input so actually the driving is a very small part of being the perfect professional as it’s about way more than just your time on track it’s about being likable people wanting to see you in the media sponsors wanting to become a part of your journey and therefore the team, all of which gains huge exposure for all involved equal to if not more so than winning a race
You worked as a technician as well, which means you’re savvy to the ins and outs underneath the bonnet, how useful has that proven to your own understanding of racing dynamics?
To be honest, its one of the best things I ever did 100% makes me a better driver having a true understanding on where a balance issue comes from, its one thing feeling where a car is weak, but determining exactly where that weakness comes from and how to solve it takes a lot of time to learn.
I hugely shortcut that learning process having such a strong understanding of a car before I even sat in one, and has given me great opportunities being involved in the development of new and upgraded race cars which the opportunity is not given to many people to do,
How big is the jump from karting to the supercars you race now, and how modified are they compared to your usual stock versions?
The Jump is massive karting for sure sets you up in terms of understanding, racecraft basic control, but they could not be further apart for starters having to handle a piece of bent metal not a whole lot bigger than you, to a well over a tone big aerodynamic dependant car is a completely different ball game.
To be honest, compared to a road car depending on the exact class there are few similarities engine is often the same however the map won’t be, the chassis is mostly the same other than losing some parts for weight saving that is where the similarities tend to stop with bodywork, brakes gearbox everything else being a much higher specification
Talk us briefly through what a normal lead-up to race-day would look like?
So your typical race week for me would start with:
- Ramping up gym and fitness training to make sure that being in the car seems like a more relaxed day instead of a tense one, make everything easier from the off.
- I will always do a simulator session at a professional simulator, which is a different world or realism to gaming, so I would do that on the track I’m going to making sure mentally more than anything the track is fresh in my head as well as a little muscle memory.
- If possible I would try and do some media practice as we said before the media interviews tv presence etc is incredibly important and actually something I had to work very hard at especially early on.
- Then Wednesday or Thursday travel day depending on where we are going will spend my travel time having a mixture of relaxing and going through onboard videos of if I have previously been to the track or if the team provides me with something.
- Then pre Friday practice will go through the run plans with my engineer look at previous date car setup expected strengths and weaknesses and rough targets for each session what we want to achieve whether its balance, performance, race preparation or qualifying, then we get into practice on the Friday, and it all begins.
How many laps would you be expected to cover over a weekend and how physically demanding is it on your body?
Before the race itself usually not that many, testing is usually short stints with making changes and development, qualifying is a maximum of 3 laps because of the tyre compound and the restriction on sets you can use because once the tyre falls out of its peak performance there really is no point continuing.
And the race can be anything from an hour to 24 the longer the race the more teammates you have so longest stint possible I believe is 3 hours, obviously, with the huge preparation that goes in you hope it’s not too hard on your body the thing that you almost can’t prepare for is the heat, it can be well over 60 degrees in the car with a lot of fireproof clothing on that is not pleasant so staying hydrated and best prepared is super important mentally and physically.
What methods do you have to go through physically and mentally to ensure you’re in top-shape for race-day?
Physically we often have a trainer with us to help us stretch, warm-up and recover as well as a plan on nutrition for the weekend, mentally I think everyone is different I’m a bit of a thinker I like to be best prepared with every single detail I possibly can be, so I don’t have to overthink while I’m trying to perform balance is key.
Do you have to maintain a certain weight to drive and do you have additional support for this?
There is no restriction as such but over 80kg with all your racing kit is certainly a disadvantage as you just slow the car down, but 75 with all your race kit would be the optimum so the team can have a perfect weight balance in the car.
What’s been your biggest highlight to-date and why?
The pre-event driver parade at lemans was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, thousands upon thousands of people and to all of them, there are few favorites all drivers are their heroes and honestly.
There is no atmosphere like it pretty much the whole country shuts down for the event and you have people travel all over the world to watch just a whole experience I will never forget never witnessed passion like it.
Is there anything about your sport that frustrates you?
The main thing being it is very easy for rich well-funded people to achieve things and take seats from under-talented peoples noses, because like we said before motorsport is still a business so outside of the very top professional levels there are people some talented some not who just buy their way into the sport and makes it super difficult for people to get what they truly deserve no matter whether they are super talented.
Do you get nervous ahead of a race and how do you manage those nerves?
People who say they don’t get nervous aren’t being honest. Everyone gets nervous it’s just how you handle those nerves, I get nervous but am always very aware I have prepared second to none and everything I can control is under control which helps so I tend to just relax into it and just do the thing I perform at my best when I just let myself to me.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about taking up motor racing?
Work hard, never stop believing in yourself if you want it to go and get it there are many setbacks many hard times, but if you are your number one fan and you do whatever you can to make sure you are in the right place physically and mentally to perform should an opportunity come your way then I believe you will succeed!
I washed wheels for a race team for a year just to be inside those 4 walls in case there was an opportunity, it just depends how much you really want it.
Who are your racing idols and why?
Think it’s very easy to say people like Senna for what they did for the sport the undeniable talent and drive to make motorsport what it is now, Lewis Hamilton because love him or hate him his talent is out of this world and watching him put a lap together is like poetry and his feel for the limit I believe is second to none, and James Hunt for proving that you also don’t need to be some robot you can have a real personality and still have the focus and determination to be on top of your sport.
How much study do you put in ahead of a race?
A lot I would put money on it being more than most, I wouldn’t know how to put an exact time on it but as soon as the flag drops on a race its 100% focus on the next.
Is there anyone in your life who serves as a prodigious inspiration to your progress? Maybe family or friends?
Family are huge to me, my biggest fans and supporters.
They are the only people who are truly there with you every step of the way and it is safe to say I probably wouldn’t have made it this far without them, also I am very lucky to be super close friends with some of the best drivers in the world so that competitive nature along with the jokey friendships I believe push all of us to be just that one step better.
V8 or V12?
What is your favourite modern supercar and why?
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, just a work of art and is like driving a rocketship.
What is your favourite classic supercar and why?
Not sure 100% if it’s a classic yet but the original McLaren F1, just the most amazing thing, innovative in its time and was an f1 car for the road.
Are you still currently coaching, if so where?
Still coaching a little considerably less than before, my main coaching happens on test days around the UK and Europe now, I also have a couple of customers over in the US.
Do you follow a specific diet or watch what you eat?
No real specific diet other than to make sure my body gets all the fuel it requires to match up with all my training and day to day life, without overindulging but allowing the opportunities to enjoy food as well.
Do you have any other passions in life outside of the sporting world?
I have actually grown a love for my fitness training it started as something I did to be able to perform in the racing world but that is something I would continue now, also very much into music, all kinds of music I can actually play the drums and the guitar did all grades in those as I left school and that has stuck with me since.
Important question, what is your favourite food?
I love a good steak! But because im super fussy about what steak and where I would get it from, my go-to favourite meal (this is a weird one) is actually a chicken and mixed vegetable stir fry.
Most hated food?
All fish, have tried a lot I’m not one of those that just decided I don’t like it, just not my thing at all!
Talladega Nights, or Top Gun.
Favourite quote to live by?
If you want to succeed you have to want it as bad as you want to breathe, otherwise you just kinda want it and you will never be successful.
When can we expect to see you race again? Do you have more details for the public?
I’m honestly not sure right now looking like it could be July fingers crossed, but very much a floating target depending on what is going on in the world in these tough times!
Matt, we cannot wait to see what the future holds for you! We know with that tenacity that you have, you will be sure to move ever closer to achieving those goals…
We really hope Team Invictus gets that funding too! I think Prince Harry has done an amazing job alongside his team and I don’t believe the latest circumstances will hinder his drive to keep up his work with The Invictus Games Foundation.
And lastly, there is definitely a pattern emerging amongst these young professionals, though all different in their own unique ways, they all have that deep hunger for success and in wanting to realize their hopes and dreams.
I also believe the ones who have the greatest well-rounded success, are those who remain humble throughout and Matt George sums that up so well here.
Want to see more from Matt?
Stay tuned for more interviews coming very soon….
Please leave any comments below…