February 26, 2024

Ryan Maker – ‘Using this World stage as a test ground is both the most exciting and nervous thing I have done.’

Growing up I was a huge fan of Formula 1 and always tended to supported the underdogs.  Pre-qualifying was my favourite part of the Grand Prix weekend and my favourite team was Zakspeed.  That interest in the German team stemmed from an article in an F1 Magazine that compared the Zakspeed team and its budget to that of the all conquering McLaren team.  In the article it covered how the high cost of wind tunnel testing meant Zakspeed’s small budget forced them to come up with an alternative and that was the use of a water tunnel that was used by boat manufacturers to test hull designs.  Racing 1:8 Onroad nitro at the time, in the form of the very basic Team Associated RC250, I was inspired by the Zakspeed story I wanted to build my own R/C car and become a ‘Constructor’.

Unfortunately the furthest I got with my dream was building my own, roughly 1:10, electric R/C car as part of my final engineering exam in school that ran using the very basic electrics from a Mini Mardave.  Using a non CNC milling machine to individually make all the parts from nylon and a lathe to make the wheels from aluminium, my teacher was impressed and engineering ended up being my highest grade in my school exams.  Unfortunately that was the end of my dream of becoming a ‘Constructor’ (although I am currently researching building a Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) for a 24-hour bike race I organise).  While I no longer harbour ambitions to make my own car, I still get excited when I hear of someone’s passion product.  Like Andreas Myberg and Iris Racing.  For years myself and Andreas talked about him wanting to create his own touring car, a dream he realised in 2022.  A few months back during a conversation with all round good guy Ryan Maker he revealed to me he was working on plans for his own touring car but things were at a very early stage and it was too early for any announcements.  Now however he is about to mark a hugely significant occasion in RC Maker’s company history by giving their first ever car its international race debut at the TITC, a race which Ryan himself describes as ‘a bloody tough race’.

While family and business commitments mean Ryan travels less frequently to international races we have previously enjoyed the Aussie’s company at World Championships, ETS races and the Reedy Race of Champions.  Over his time as one of Australia’s top onroad racers, Ryan has built-up his very successful optional parts and accessory brand.  While part of the success of the brand is the high quality products he produces, it is also a lot to do with Ryan’s personable approach to racing.  Originally from Melbourne but now living on the Gold Coast, Ryan’s RC journey actually started with flying planes at the age of 8 with his dad who manufactured balsa wood kits.  Turns out young Ryan wasn’t into planes and wanted to race and by the age of 11 he was racing with a pull start nitro car.  It’s also his Dad’s plane making business that has fuelled and allowed the dream of Ryan making his own car, the SP1.  Starting RC Maker in 2018, he said his dad played a key roll and now an international brand he also acknowledges the roll played by Toni Rheinard saying he was ‘a big help in getting customers as he had such a big reach in Europe’.

After finding the right cutter for carbon, his dad’s machines all made for wood cutting, he said they also had a CNC machine of their own design made but they lacked the engineering knowledge and the pipe dream of one day making a car was far away.  Doing his initial RC Maker option parts design work in 2D for 2 years, watching Youtube videos on 3D drawing and learning how to do them himself was a key moment in moving another step towards making his first car.  ‘With 2D it is hard to see how all the parts fit together.  Doing them in 3D made the car possible.  From there I could break everything down into small achievable steps, the concept, then a bit more, before I knew it it was coming together.’  Still, having the design is one thing but producing all the parts is another.  Carbon parts was not a problem, that was after all his main business, but machined alu parts was an issue.  That was until the owner of factory in China offered to help with production.  ‘Of course I would love to make it completely in Australia but the costs would have made the car too expensive so this opportunity made everything a reality.’

Around May last year Ryan made his first prototype, ‘we made it happen with the machines we had.’  Taking 100s of hours to create, he said it was ‘still very far from something you could consider a raceable car’.  Testing this hand built car that featured lots of 3D printed parts at his local track England Park Raceway he said he knew comparing it to the AOC race that had been held there previously he knew he was onto something straight away with his design.  Not wanting to give away too much about the car’s design during our call, he did divulge that it has ‘a different suspension style and lower centre of gravity to other cars out there’.  After initial testing he ‘went into the nitty gritty to see how (he) could make it possible (as a production car).’  Now he has two production samples that he will race on the biggest touring car stage after the World Championships, the TITC.

Making his TITC debut in 2008, asked what makes this race so special, he said, ‘I prefer it to the Worlds atmosphere.  For so many drivers it is their favourite race.  There is not as much pressure as the Worlds but there is still a crazy level of competition.  It’s more competitive than the Worlds as you get lots of quick locals and drivers from Japan, then at the end of each day all the top drivers are having beer.’  He added, ‘It is mentally taxing.  It’s a race that sorts the men from the boys.  A good run is very rewarding and when they win you see the emotion as so much work goes into it because of the changing conditions.’

On his own expectations for the 20th running of the Bangkok race, Ryan said, ‘I’m not a world class driver so I don’t expect to beat Bruno (Coelho) but I know my level and can gauge off that if we have work to do with the car.’  He continued, ‘TITC is a bloody tough race and it’s the first race everyone knows I am running a new car and it’s an international stage.  Using this World stage as a test ground is both the most exciting and nervous thing I have done’.  Ryan is aware of the risks but said, ‘Stuff it, I have everything to lose but when the opportunity was presented to me I couldn’t not do it.  I’m not starting from nothing like Andreas with the Iris which was a completely new brand.  I already have the brand established and it is known for quality so this is a big risk’.  On his own performance he said, ‘I am at a Y in the road.  Racing results don’t motivate me anymore, performance improvements do.  I want to be back at the track helping others, not focused on results of your heats.’

Armed with just two cars for the race, Ryan plans to go two different directions with how they are set-up.  ‘Everyone else has previous TITC race set-ups.  I am starting from scratch.  Working on set-up is going to be new as the springs are unique to the car and a bit different, unconventional.  I hopefully have enough spare parts.  It’s definitely scary as I can’t ask anyone if they have spare parts I can use.’


2024 TITC coverage presented by Hobbywing

Hobbywing is China’s earliest national-level high-tech enterprise engaged in R&D, production and sales of brushless power systems for UAV and RC models.  Committed to provide high power density brushless power systems for global customers, Hobbywing and the TITC have a deep-rooted history.  As early as 2009, Hobbywing’s ESC made its first appearance at TITC with this year marking a 15 years history of collaboration.  Except for the three years during the COVID-19 period, Hobbywing has consistently offered on-site technical guidance to its users at TITC, ensuring the optimal performance of their power systems and providing steadfast support for drivers, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the competition.


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