The rock-battered No. 5M sprinter stood out in the pits at a July Terre Haute Action Track Brandeis Midwest Sprint Car Series event. The car’s black hood was without sponsorship and a young man sitting on the left front tire readily acknowledged those passing by with a friendly smile.
There were no crew members hustling about the car, just the young man taking in the scene. At first impression, his demeanor was that of a fan or team helper, not that of a sprint car driver about to tackle the Action Track.
Come feature time, that same No. 5M was immediately against the cushion, running with the leaders. A late-race caution gave the infield photographers an opportunity to speculate about the identity of the charger.
The consensus was he might be from California, but no one seemed to know for sure. Once the checkers had dropped and the dust settled, Max Adams – that young man sitting on the tire in the pits – had earned a second-place finish in his first run at Terre Haute.
From Loomis, Calif., the 24-year-old Adams – accompanied by his father Scott – packed up and moved their racing operation to Indiana in May to compete on the state’s legendary dirt tracks.
Max is serious about becoming a full-time racer on the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series and the move was about one goal: get more laps.
“There’s really so little racing in California,.” Max Adams said. “Back here [in Indiana] everyone is so sharp on everything they do. They race three times a weekend, where I raced three times a month.”
Other than some help from a friend with Brady Bacon’s crew, the father and son run their sprint car operation alone, while picking up landscaping work to help pay the bills.
By season’s end Max estimates he will have run 35 to 40 Indiana sprint car features. His summer’s highlight was running the entire NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week series.
Calling the adventure “a blast,” Max qualified for seven of the series’ eight features, and was especially proud of the 10th place run at Terre Haute, his first career AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series top-10 finish.
He found the week to be “grueling,” and admitted, “There after the fourth night I was ready for that two-day break.” Out of a total 81 participants, Max’s efforts were good enough for 11th place in the final point standings.
Max’s start in racing, like many, began at an early age. His parents have always been fans of the sport. His father was a “tire guy/mud scraper” on a sprint car when Max was little and Max acknowledges, “That’s pretty much how the racing bug got started with them.”
In 2000, at the age of five, Max was racing a winged outlaw kart that an acquaintance of his mother sold the family. He collected five wins in the karts before moving to 600cc micros at age 11.
During his five years racing micros, he collected 15 to 20 wins, as well as a track championship at Sacramento’s Delta Speedway in 2008.
In 2013 Max transitioned to sprint cars and over six years gained experience racing local winged 360 events, USAC West Coast 360’s, and the AMSOIL USAC/CRA 410’s.
He earned the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series Rookie of the Year title in 2016 and followed the honor with feature wins in 2017 and 2018, each coming at Santa Maria Speedway.
Every young driver has competitors who they look up to, and Max identifies two fellow California drivers who have been his role models. Andy Forsberg is Max’s favorite driver: “He’s in total control all the time. You can see him make moves with the car that are just mind blowing,” noted Adams.
Another driver Max admires is Damion Gardner.
“He’s kind of the same driver as Andy; a little bit different personality, but behind the wheel there’s a lot of the same between the two. Just the car control they have and the things they can do with it.”
Soon after coming to Indiana, Max and his father had the opportunity to do a landscaping job for no other than Bubby Jones.
“We met and did a fence for him. He started talking and I started listening and he’s been super helpful. He’s a pretty no B.S. type guy. He’ll tell it to you straight.”
Bubby has done a lot to get Max dialed in running Indiana’s bullrings. The two talk often and Max has a favorite piece of advice from the veteran: “Keep the wheels spinning on the car and keep it in the throttle,” advice the young man has definitely taken to heart.
That explains that black No. 5M at Terre Haute in July, against the cushion, wheels spinning and hammer down.
Welcome Max Adams, Indiana’s newest sprint car driver.