Friday, 21 June 2013

X Games and beyond, meet GRC driver Eduardo Marques

In 2013 the X Games expanded to become a global series. With this, the popular extreme sports competition visited new territories such as France, Spain, and Brazil. Eduardo Marques was one of the people who competed in X Games Brazil earlier this year as one of three local personalities to take part in the RallyCross event.
Eduardo Marques comes from Sao Paulo and got bitten by the motorsport bug when his father took him to a Brazilian Stock Car race at Interlagos when he was young. He was hooked instantly and didn't want to do anything else.

After racing touring cars and sports cars in Brazil, Marques moved to America in the late 1990s to race single seaters. He competed in lower-league formulae such as Formula Ford and Formula Dodge before becoming a test driver for Indy Lights. After travelling with the Champ Car program for over a year as Lights tester, Marques' dream of reaching IndyCar hit trouble after the tragic events of 9/11.

Testing for Indy Lights
Needing to find alternative employment, Marques worked in racing schools and worked with the US military as a special forces instructor. In addition to this, rally was getting bigger in the US at the time, allowing Marques to work in rally schools and take part in regional rallies and rallycross events whenever he could.

The rally scene led to an opportunity to work with Disney at their Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida, a job he still has today. Using skills he learnt in rallycross, Marques completes two or three shows daily, drifting highly modified cars through tight spaces coming close to several other cars sharing the same piece of asphalt. As well as the driving, Marques has other duties at the show such as training drivers and sorting their schedules. He also coordinates the show once or twice a week.

Playing the villain at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Always wanting the shows to be the best, fellow Lights Motors Action performer Antony Matos tells me that "Eduardo is one of our drivers that pushes everyone's ability when we are on stage helping to make our show one the best live shows in the world". Going on to talk about Eduardo Marques' opportunity at this years X Games Brazil event, Matos tells me that  "We at the stage couldn't be more proud of him for his participation in the X Games Brazil and we hope that its a start for many more races to come."

Driving at X Games Brazil
Eduardo Marques' unique and varied background and vast driving experience caught the eye of X Games organisers who invited him to participate in X Games Brazil in April this year. Thrown in at the deep end, Marques entered his first heat against Scott Speed, Buddy Rice and Anton Marklund with very little testing experience to call upon. But that didn't dampen the experience for him as he relished the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage with the biggest stars.

"It was a great experience" he tells me, "to be there with them was incredible. I've learned a lot from them". 

Eduardo Marques now hopes that his X Games adventure will lead to a full time seat in the Global RallyCross Championship (GRC). He's working hard to be back out later this season but his return is dependant on the right car and of course the right backing.

Driving as the Hero at Disney's Hollywood Studios
In the mean time, Marques divides his time between stunt driving for Disney and Hollywood productions, having just wrapped up filming Mad Max Fury Road, as well as working with trophy Karts to help young aspiring racers and working with a possible new GRC team. 

When he's not driving though, Marques can still be found at the race track supporting his friends when they race. As well as this he is passionate about music, enjoying the drums and listening to Iron Maiden between races. Family is also very important to Eduardo Marques and he spends a lot of time with them between work, in particular his acrobat wife, with whom he trains when not racing.

Interview with Eduardo Marques

Dominik Wilde: Growing up in Brazil, obviously motorsport is huge, but what's your earliest memory from it? What made you want to be a professional driver? 

Eduardo Marques: At a very young age, my father took me and my cousins to watch a Brazilian Stock Car Race in Interlagos (the long old Circuit), and the noise, smell, the cars, right then it changed everything, I never wanted to do anything else…

DW: Reading about you, your career seems very similar to that of Ben Collins; climbing up the motorsport ladder then working with the military and now stunt driving. In such a mixed career, besides the X Games, what would you say was the highlight of your career? 

EM: As far as racing, travelling with Champ Car, at the time as a test driver for Indy Lights, in general we can say driving for Mad Max Fury Road production.  

DW: Surely though the X Games has been your high point. How did the opportunity to race in the X Games arise? 

EM: X Games is always looking for drivers from different disciplines, background and personalities, to bring excitement and a unique factor to the races, so my mix of driving experience called their attention, and I’m very thankful, what an experience!

DW: What did you do to prepare for the event? 

EM: Unfortunately, I did not have much time or possibility to do anything different than my every day, I was just back from travelling and driving for a movie, driving at the Disney Show and training at the gym, it did not help that the car I was going to race in Brazil (XRC Team ) was in Brazil, making impossible to practice, I drove the car once before the event for a promo video and that was it. I hope to practice more for next time.  

DW: How did it feel to race with such big names like Tanner Foust, Travis Pastrana, Nelson Piquet Jr, Scott Speed and Buddy Rice? 

The start line at X Games Brazil
EM: It was a great experience, I’m a big fan of motorsports and their stars, so to be there with them was incredible.  I’ve learned a lot from them, the different styles, the different techniques, definitely a unique challenge and opportunity to have such a variety of drivers in one race.  

DW: The visibility looked difficult at the X Games Brazil. How did you find it? How did you adapt to the conditions? 

EM: Visibility, what is that? Haha. Yes it was very difficult, but it made it fun, challenging and at least we had windshields and spotters, a luxury compared to some military and movie work… is like driving a Formula car in heavy rain, you hope everybody is still going the same direction… I also had a great spotter Armando Miranda (Rally co-driver),  that kept me on track in the worse moments. It was difficult, but at least it was the same for everybody.

DW: Now you've had a taste of the GRC, would you like to take part in more events? 

Testing Prodrive's Mini WRC
EM: Definitely yes, I’ve been working hard to be there full time, in February I had a test with Prodrive, to bring the Mini to GRC together with Liam [Doran], as well as other teams.

DW: Could we see you in more GRC events? 

EM: I’m working to be back still this year, X Games and GRC invitations are still open for me, is just a matter of support and the right car.  Will see.   

DW: You've driven single seaters, stock cars, supercars, stunt cars at Disney and RallyX cars, which one has been your favourite? 

Marques at X Games Brazil
EM: That is a difficult answer, they all amazing to me, If a I had to choose one, I have to go with RallyX, you can do a lot more with those, drift, 180’s, jumps, drive fast in a road course, dirt, rain, snow… awesome…

DW: Tell us a little bit about your work at Disney. How does it compare to RallyX and what's a normal day like for Eduardo Marques at Walt Disney World? 

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
EM: The driving has many similar elements, drifting, constantly adapting to the different surfaces conditions and other cars (that are very close), the jumps, the tight corners and there is no warming up to it, it starts and you have to get it done. A normal day for me at the Disney stunt show, we have a morning meeting, then we go into a practice session, to make sure about drivers and cars, back inside for some administrative work (I make drivers schedules, train drivers and other responsibilities) then the most fun part, we have 2 or 3 shows, and in between shows we go out to meet the guests, talk to kids and get ready for the next one.

Once or twice a week I also call the show, is a type of a Stunt Coordinator on deck, nobody moves during show without those calls,  is an amazing set up and is been a great learning ground.      

DW: What gives you more of a thrill, racing or stunt driving? 

EM: Another difficult answer, Driving is what brings the thrill, no matter what style, but if I have to choose one I have to go with Racing, that is my passion, what made me move to another country,  is been part of my life for so long…

DW: Throughout your career, what has been the best car you've driven? 

EM: Race car- Mini WRC   Street car- Ferrari 458 Italia

DW: And what about best track? 

EM: I really enjoy Interlagos in my hometown São Paulo

DW: Are there any other forms of motorsport you'd like to try but haven't already? 

EM: I would like to try a lot of different series and cars yes,  we can start with V8 Supercars in Australia, and of course a F1 car.

DW: When you aren't driving what do you like to do? 

EM:I go to the race track to support friends hahaha, I also play drums, music is a big passion, lots of Iron Maiden in between races. Believe or not my wife is an Aerial Artist/ acrobat, so I train with her on silks, trapeze and others as well… it hurts a lot. And Of course, family time always, we are very close and it’s a big part of what I am.

DW: What does the future hold for you? What's up next? 

Testing with XRC Brazil in Curitiba
EM: Short term I’m waiting for some answers on movie work, and GRC X Games events, for the fall and 2014 - I’m involved with Trophy Karts on the creation of a stepping stone for aspiring racers for off road and Rallycross in the USA and Brazil and a possible new GRC team. In the meantime you can find me here at Disney in Orlando.

Be sure to 'Like' Eduardo Marques on Facebook HERE

Image credits - Jose Mario Dias, Eduardo Marques, Dominik Wilde

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