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Super Trofeo Stories: Dr Ma Chi Min

11 一月 2024

The beauty of Lamborghini Super Trofeo, and customer racing in general, is that there are often incredibly unique stories behind the amateur drivers who take to the grid.

Away from the spotlight of the younger, aspiring professional with a go-getter attitude, the amateur drivers are perhaps the most important asset to customer racing.

Back home in Hong Kong, Dr Ma Chi Min is something of a local legend, and it is easy to see why. The 70-year-old, who returned to racing at the beginning of 2023 following a 10-year hiatus from the sport, has been a practicing surgeon for nearly 40 years, working with some of the most vulnerable people.

But that’s just one of the three positions holds. A medical consultant and the CEO of one of the biggest medical centres in the region, Dr Ma somehow also finds time for racing, which he approaches with a similarly surgical precision as his day job.

“I have three jobs, really,” begins Dr Ma. “I am a full-time practicing surgeon specialising in the GI (gastrointestinal) unit. I graduated from medical school in 1977 and I became a fellow of the royal college of surgeons in 1982, so it has been a long time in the medical sector. In fact, I had three major surgeries lined up for the week after the World Finals event in Vallelunga, so I still keep busy.”

“Being a surgeon is my first and best hobby, it does not feel like a job, helping people. Racing has always been a hobby for me, something fun but I haven’t always had the time to do it. But this year when I came back after 10 years away, I didn’t realise how tough it was, and actually in the first race of the year, I was scared!”

“I am the CEO of the medical centre and also the medical director. It is a very satisfying job because I have a team of seven surgeons who are all specialists in complicated surgeries. Sometimes, when there are surgeries that require very specific practices, they can call me, and we work together. So far, we have always had happy endings. I love doing this, helping people, and to get paid for it means that it is my best hobby. Of course, I would have done it for free as well. This is a good mentality to have, to love your job means that you are always giving your best, always trying to improve every day.”

Passionate about cars with a keen interest in motorsport in his youth, it was only when he had earned enough money through work that Dr Ma eventually decided to take the plunge and start racing, in the mid-1990s.

Already in his 40s, Dr Ma began learning how to be a racing driver, not in Asia but at Mugello in Italy at the wheel of a Toyota.

“I was there, imagining that I am a good driver, but then the instructor failed me in every category!” he explains. “In braking, acceleration, cornering, everything so I was very depressed.”
“But then, the next day, the wife of one of the Hong Kong drivers – their son was racing at the same time – let me sit in the lead car, so I could understand everything they were telling me and I started to learn how to drive properly.”

“I returned to Hong Kong and then, in 1995, I went to Silverstone to do a one-week course and from then, I made the step to racing in 1996. So, two years after I got my race licence.”

Ma raced locally for many years, quickly becoming one of the most prolific drivers in Hong Kong. He won his first race and then competed on the grandest stage in Asia, at the famous Guia Circuit in Macau, picking up accolades regularly.

Business interests meant he took a break from racing at the end of the 2011 season, but the passion and desire to come back never waned. Indeed, Dr Ma was one of the first to register for the ultimately curtailed 2020 Super Trofeo Asia season. As COVID-19 gripped the globe, many would have forgiven Dr Ma for finding something else to do, but he eventually made his return this year.

And part of what makes Dr Ma’s Super Trofeo Asia season so impressive is that after the third round of the campaign, he drove as a solo competitor in the Lamborghini Cup.

That meant having to drive a full 50-minute race instead of a maximum 30-minute stint that he was used to when he shared with Keith Vong.

Despite his age, Dr Ma maintains a high level of physical fitness, but nevertheless embarked on a rigorous training regime to ensure he had enough energy in the tank to compete for LB Cup class honours in the second half of the season.

“The cars are so physically demanding, so I trained really hard for the last six months, gained some weight, seven kilos, to prepare myself better,” says Dr Ma.

“It is more of a mental game than a physical game. You have to also be very physically fit of course, but after that it is just a mental game. I have worked with a doctor this year to try and build up muscle, alongside my training.”

“In order to build the seven kilos, I took vitamins because there is only much chicken you can eat! You can put on weight easily, but it’s about putting it on in the right places.”

“As a surgeon, I knew which muscles I needed to improve, because after driving, you are in pain in those muscles, so I built up the muscle there and it has really helped.”

Like many of his amateur racing contemporaries, Dr Ma is as determined and dedicated to his full-time work away from the track as he is to his racing on track. But, rather than the day job helping his racing, Dr Ma has seen the benefit going the opposite way.

“Racing definitely keeps me mentally sharp and this has helped me a lot, especially in my surgeries,” explains Dr Ma. “Since the start of the season, I have had two difficult surgeries that I struggled with.”

“Without this year’s racing experience and training, the burden of having to performance, to reach the finish, the perseverance, in the past I think I might have given up, because it was seemingly impossible.”

“Part of what has helped me is thinking about having to face the patient or the relatives and telling them that I couldn’t achieve what I promised them. The perseverance racing demands has helped me overcome that and make me do things that I can take into my surgeries.”

“And in these two cases this year, I succeeded.”

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