Australian stunt rider Robbie Maddison talks about breaking world records, jumping London’s Tower Bridge, and his V8 Supercar ambitions
Interview: Steve Harkness
Sports stars don’t get any cooler than Robbie Maddison. Not only does he travel the world riding motorcycles for a living, but he performs the most incredible stunts. Maddison is the Aussie daredevil who secured world records for the longest jump, highest jump and biggest drop on a bike over the past two years. Oh, and in July 2009 he also back-flipped over the open span of London’s Tower Bridge!
But Maddison’s New Year’s Eve stunt spectaculars are only a part of his stellar career. For the majority of the year, he competes in the unofficial world series of freestyle motocross, the renowned Red Bull X-Fighters.
The X-Fighters competition gathers the world’s best FMX talents and pits them head-to-head in sport’s toughest arenas. In 2009, Maddison proved that he belongs with the sport’s elite by winning the Canadian round of the championship in Calgary, taking out three freestyle legends on the way. Not bad for a kid from small town Kiama, NSW.
Not content with reaching the top of the FMX ladder, the 27-year-old is planning a switch to four-wheel competition in the not-too-distant future—he’s already raced in the MINI Challenge, but he wants his future to be in the V8 Supercars series.
All this success hasn’t changed Maddison, though; at his core he’s still just a kid from Kiama who’s lucky enough to get paid to do what he loves. Unlike many of his peers, ‘Maddo’ is as honest and charismatic a guy as you could meet in motorsport
You recently made your car-racing debut, and you plan to make four-wheels your future career. What inspired this decision?
Obviously, the lifestyle of a freestyle motocross rider is a hard one, and there comes a time when you’ve got to look for a different future.
I spoke to [V8 Supercar owner/driver] Jason Bright about what’s involved in putting a car on the track—the costs and all that stuff. I’m trying to put some steps in place now, so over the next four or five years I can get some time in the car and get used to it. When the time comes, I’d like to be a competitive guy on the track.
It’s definitely going to happen, then?
For sure! I’d love to be a V8 Supercar driver. I’d love to be based in Australia. The one thing I’ve learned from travelling around the world over the past six years is that we live in a great country and, although I love travelling, home is where the heart is. This is where I’d like to live and bring up the kids.
The long-distance jumps are a passion of mine, and I’d like to somehow do a couple of jumps a year and also drive a V8 Supercar. I think that would be a pretty cool thing to do.
So even if you quit full-time FMX for V8 Supercars, you’d still crank out a few long distance motorcycle jumps?
It would be cool. I spoke to [manager] Matt Cousins about potentially jumping all the V8 Supercars lined up on the grid, which would be a 300-foot [91m] jump. With my jumps, I think I could bring a new light to the sport and obviously have that fanbase follow me into the V8 racing.
Would you like to own a V8 team or are you looking for a drive with one of the established outfits?
At this point in time, I’d be happy to get a drive with somebody else; it would be a lot easier. But I’ve looked at how much it would cost to set up a new team, too. I’d love to have my own team; I think it would be great. Maybe I could do something with a couple of other guys who have the abilities but aren’t in V8 Supercars. Maybe me and [Aussie Supercross megastar] Chad Reed could put a team together.
I know I’ve got that racing ethic about me and I know I can drive a motor car. I definitely think I’ve got the skills to do it, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and learning a few more things.
“That’s been my motto my whole life: face your fears and live your dreams”
Last year was a big one for you. You did the Red Bull Experiment, jumped Tower Bridge in London, and won a round of the Red Bull X-Fighters. What are you most proud of?
The X-Fighters win was pretty huge. That’s the level that I’ve been aiming at for some time and to win an event was awesome. All that stuff [the jumps] going on behind the scenes affected my riding and training, and it also kept me busy, so I was affected by jetlag throughout the year. For me, to achieve what I have, I feel like I’ve done it against the odds.
I imagine that you have set the bar quite high for 2010…
My goal isn’t to become a household name, my goal is to live my dreams. That’s been my motto my whole life: face your fears and live your dreams. A lot of the time, facing your smallest fear is what helps you overcome the next thing on your way.
I really want to keep jumping extraordinary things to impress the fans and to put on a good show because, at the end of the day, I am a showman and that’s what I love. It’s a passion of mine to keep achieving these jumps for the next couple of years and really put my stamp on them, so that people know there was an Evel Knievel, and there was a Robbie Maddison who jumped some super stuff as well.
What’s next on your jump list? You’re not running out of ideas, are you?
No, definitely not running out of ideas. The hard part is figuring out which are the right ones to pursue. There are so many ideas, and some of them are really hard to pull off, logistically.
All the jumps I’ve done so far have been hard to pull off, but I’ve had an amazing team at Red Bull who have helped me get permission to jump the Tower Bridge, the Arc de Triomphe in Vegas, and on and off numerous hotels. To do the other things requires a group of well-connected people working together to get all of the necessary permissions in place. It’s an exciting time. That’s been my motto my whole life: face your fears and live your dreams