10 Minutes with Ben Muller

Ben Muller is new to MG Racing on track but has been behind the scenes for the last few years working with Richard Milligan’s V8 MG.

Ben has quite a history in karting and knows what he is doing behind the wheel of a kart but admits the big bad V8 is a new level. His experience with cars has been varied, “ the garage has had plenty of cars, I have had various Alfa’s including a Alfa 90 track day car I still own, and a 1954 MG TD which is in the shed but needs a bit of a restoration”

So that’s the garage, where did motorsport come from?

“I have always followed motorsport from a young age and it probably started back when my dad took me to Sandown to watch some racing and take in the sights and sounds of it all. I guess I was hooked from then!”  comments Ben.  Having followed motorsport along he remembers watching the big bad days of Sandown.  “I used to head off to Sandown with mates to watch the big bangers, the touring cars and F5000’s and seeing what was going on, they were great to watch up the back straight at Sandown”

This lead to continuing on in anything he could, “I had a desire to be part of it, somewhere and somehow” but obviously work would come first to pay for it! Decades later, attending motorsport but not being able to race himself and floating around the pits he knew he would one day get in to racing, but didn’t really think about MG Racing.   “I was helping Richard a while ago at Sandown, I got into conversation with Rob Whitwell about his car and basically you can guess what happened next! I ended up purchasing the car and off we went.  Rob was looking to get into his historic car so the V8 ended up an attractive deal”.

When pressed on why a V8 MG… Ben explained that he had admired the V8 MG’s for a while, “I used to watch them and it was a bit like what I grew up watching, they looked like brutal machines and they were loud, V8 and being a local series based in Vic helped. It looked like a good group.  I looked at a few cars but wanted something that would challenge me and push me, and I researched the car and found K&A built it in Adelaide, that gave it huge provenance to me and it gave it something unique, but also history. It has proved everything I expected… a challenge and brutal but it excites me for the next few years”.

When asked about the challenges of driving and owning the unique beast there are four key things Ben points out, “the first is the horsepower, they are seriously fast and the power options are so wide, the top guys have a bit more than me but that is something we can build up to if we want. First I just want some reliability and to learn.  Secondly is the brakes, they stop extremely well with the big tyres so that is unique, thirdly is the short wheelbase for the kind of vehicle it is.  Most big V8 sportscars these days are big, wide, long etc. these are wide but short wheelbase and that makes them twitchy. Finally, they are a tight car inside and they get very hot inside the cockpit.   It’s old school.”

When discussing the enjoyment of running the car himself Ben is quick to point out the challenge but enjoyment he gets here. “I really enjoy mechanical engineering and in motorsport it’s a really interesting challenge.  I had an engineering career and the nature of motorsport, innovation and ability to be unique in how you push yourself and the car to gain speed and lower lap times is really interesting.  I can be inventive and challenge myself”

Ben also points out the next few years are full of innovation for him, “I like using new materials, composites and lightweight, dealing with aero packages, tyres, suspension, fabrication, data acquisition, and I hope to learn and use my knowledge to gain an advantage in the future.   But all that stuff is in these cars while being able to run them on our own.  But I am engaging experienced people to help develop the car as well”.

 

When turning to the development since purchasing the car Ben says it’s been quite detailed but not to his surprise… “I have done a few mainly cosmetic changes and maintenance. In shorty things like the seat mountings etc., trying to improve my vision which has included removing some clutter, some of the stickers, adding new mirrors and making them a bit more sturdy.   Externally I put some emphasis on remounting and making the mounts adjustable for the rear wing, refurbishing the wheels, all the oil system has been updated and refreshed, we have had the suspension rebuilt and corner weight it prior to each round.   We recently made a rear diff housing and fitted and LSD with new axles and drive hubs.  It’s not just unique to this car but part of the ownership of these cars”.

Moving beyond that, what circuits challenge and excite Ben in the V8, “well Phillip Island because it flows nicely and yet challenges us, but I am looking forward to trying Tailem Bend and Baskerville etc. So far the biggest moment was at FOS last year, it was really wet and greasy and I had a moment at turn 2, that wasn’t ideal”

Ben then turns to the next couple of years, “I just want to get out and race, be reliable and competitive as much as possible. I don’t expect to win but it would be nice to get to the top 3.  I am keen to do a few events like Baskerville in Tas, Tailem Bend if we can go (nudge nudge) and events like that.   And ultimately stay in front of a very quick four cylinder turbo car haha”

When asked around getting the car sorted and those behind the scenes, Ben wanted to thank a few people specifically, “Rob Palermo at RP Motorsport Developments for all his suspension help and numerous tips, Paris Acott from Acott Race Craft for the rear axle and machining help, Marty Brant at Garage 1 for his help and advice in general but also all the MG Racing guys who make me feel welcome, it is a great group and this includes our IB friends and buddies from South Australia and not forgetting Richard for introducing me to MG Racing”.

What does he enjoy about MG Racing the most? “Camaraderie, in a nutshell it’s the biggest thing once you see it compared to a lot of motorsport it’s so strong”.

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