Chatting with Max Eddy Jr. About Bikes, Roadbooks and Getting Behind the Wheel
By Kyra Sacdalan
There are few people in this world who have the tenacity, let alone capacity, to do it all. To find success in one field of dreams, only to move onto the next – and the next – with the full intention of contending for the top. Many men and women who have been elite athletes (in Max Eddy Jr.’s case, a five-time Baja 1000 champion on a bike) chose to shy away from the spotlight once they finally decided to hang up their jerseys. But Max is an anomaly among gems: a team player when needed, fiercely independent as a preference and thoughtful with all of his decisions – especially when choosing to step across the threshold from motorbikes and marked courses to UTVs and roadbooks.
He began that journey in the passenger seat, co-piloting for Robby Gordon’s Speed UTV at the Dakar Rally’s final foray in South America. Then again as Polaris RZR premiered their first – and the only American – factory race team, with Eddy Jr. again as the voice of reason for a new group of US rally pioneers. And while this marked the end of his career as navigator, it launched a (now third) career as a Polaris RZR Factory driver, a title which he discretely premiered at the 2021 Yokohama Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels.
• You cut your teeth racing motorbikes, and these days, you’re helping your son reach his own two-wheeled goals… How was transitioning out of that scene, as an athlete, for you?
It was hard. I still love riding and racing my bike. Unfortunately, the older I get, the less competitive I am on dirt bikes. It takes a whole lot of commitment and dedication; I just do not have that kind of time anymore. Especially with helping Connor and my youngest son Axell.
• Now that you’ve moved to cars – for several years now, do you prefer racing them over bikes?
I have always had a love to race anything and everything I could get my hands on. The feeling of being scared at times doing 100 mph in Baja on a dirt bike is hard to beat. But I love to race anything.
• Did you have any motorsports idols growing up?
I had a few from every different discipline of racing. Johnny Campbell and Steve Hengeveld… Robby Gordon. My Dad. All of whom I have had the opportunity ride for or team up with.
• Co-pilots are generally underrated, yet such an integral part of any victory. What was it like to be a navigator at Dakar… Twice?
It was OK but not where I wanted to be. I had to put in the work first though. That is how I ended up in the driver seat.
• Did you always want to be behind the wheel at a rally raid, or did that grow on you after Peru and Saudi Arabia?
Of course, I’ve always wanted to drive. That is where my talent is.
• What did it feel like to be officially signed by Polaris as a Factory driver?
I have worked my entire life to ride/drive for a factory team. It’s the best feeling in the world next to being a dad.
• You had to put in work to show Polaris what a valuable asset you are; was it a relief when you were signed or were you confident from the start?
It was a relief. The state of off-road racing right now is weird, and you don’t necessarily have to be a great driver or produce results. I don’t have a huge following on social media, nor do I put much effort towards it. One guy thought he saw some talent and decided to give me a shot, and I promised I would not let him down.
• Was the Sonoran desert a good place to test your driving and roadbook skills?
Most definitely. It’s about as close to Dakar as you can get in North America. The dunes are unreal!
• Is rallying your preferred format of choice? If not, what is?
I don’t really have a preferred discipline. I will race anything which really challenges me. I enjoy when I have a lot left to learn.
• How did you get into rally raid?
After winning the Baja 500, Baja 1000, San Felipe 250 and Vegas to Reno multiple times, I wanted a bigger challenge and Dakar was the next pinnacle to climb. So, the training and desire started there.
• What’s your favorite sort of terrain to race?
Something challenging, maybe [the landscape at the] King of the Hammers. I hope to race that event soon.
• How did you like the landscape and challenges at the 2021 Sonora Rally?
It was a great time with beautiful landscape. It was the perfect balance of tricky navigation and fun roads with some gnarly dunes. Can’t wait to be back down there on that top step next year.
• What was it like to race that single-seat RZR? It looked like a toy, but clearly, it was able to smash in the Altar Desert.
The RS1 was amazing. It’s like riding a dirt bike – light and nimble. It drove through the dunes better than the bigger cars.
• Do you have a pre-race routine?
Yes, but it does not have a start or end. I do it year around.
• What gets you pumped up before you roll up to the starting line?
Two cups of coffee and just knowing I am doing what I love.
• For the hypothetical final race of your life, you have the choice to compete in any country and region. Where would you choose?
Oh man, that’s hard. There are so many [competitions] I would like to do but I would say, the beach race in Scheveningen.
• You have the opportunity to give the readers some advice (this is the last question, and they got this far, so they’re captive…) What do you think motorsports fans need to know?
As a racer we enjoy you fans more than you know. When we are dead-tired and the end of a long race and we see you guys out there cheering us on, it gives us a boost of energy. We really appreciate that, so keep cheering on!