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Omaha Magazine

Fueling Success: Max Roseland Races Ahead with Resilience, Family Support

May 23, 2023 03:31PM ● By Leo Adam Biga
Max Roseland Omaha Magazine June 2023 Sports

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Eighteen-year-old Max Roseland, of Carter Lake, Iowa, holds his own against adult drivers in IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) sanctioned sprint car races, impressing veterans of the sport.

Champion American Sprint Car Series driver Jack Dover has noticed the young racer’s potential, taking Max under his wing.

Few outside Max’s inner circle know he competes while dealing with severe food allergies that require vigilance around what and where he eats. 

“It’s a testament to Max [that] he overcomes challenges just to get to the track, much less race,” said his father and pit crew chief, Chris Roseland. “Max is successful at what he does because he’s had to take responsibility at a really young age. He’s always been the first to do something at a younger age. Unfortunately, [that included] figuring out what he couldn’t eat that would put him in the hospital.”

Dealing with Max's wheat and peanut allergies is a team effort. His mother Amy’s learned to cook gluten-free meals. His dad packs safe food and scouts safe eateries for the road.

Living with severe allergies, Max said, “basically becomes a routine of knowing what I can eat and can’t eat, and what places I can and can’t go.” 

Just as he’s steeped himself in health precautions, he’s done the same with racing.

“I love learning about racing,” Max beamed. “There’s levels of racing you can work your way up to. I definitely want to work my way up from where I’m right now.”

Competition drives him, both figuratively and on the racetrack. 

“I don’t like to lose at anything I do. I want to win. It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” he said. “That’s my favorite thing.” 

At 16, Max qualified for the pole position in a feature race at Eagle Raceway in Eagle, Nebraska, where a few years before he competed on the kids' track.

“I was proud of myself. It was scary, a little nerve racking but I was just really excited for it,” Max reflected. “I definitely want to win at Eagle Raceway. That is one of my big goals.” 

Reaching the coveted ‘Outlaws’ class is another goal.

Racing as Max “The Shocker” Roseland, he mostly competes in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska but has traveled as far as Oklahoma and Texas for events. He’s sponsored by the family business, Backlund Plumbing. Social media posts and YouTube highlight reels of his runs have made fans of schoolmates.

“They think it’s really cool. They always want to see videos and stuff,” Max said. “They love it. It feels good seeing my name out there.” 

He’s even signed a few autographs, too. 

A recent Lewis Central High School graduate, Max has enjoyed the support of gear-head mentors in his father, Chris, and late grandfather, George, both of whom have carved a legacy on the racetrack. Grandpa George raced dirt tracks and became a Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee for his service to the sport. 

As a third-generation driver, Max knows he’s carrying on a family legacy. 

“I’ve learned everything from them,” he said.

“You breathe, but not the entire time,” Max added. “It’s stressful yet fun. It keeps you on your toes.” 

In lieu of a two-way radio, he and Chris communicate via coded hand signals. 

Chris describes Max as “a calculated, fearless driver.” 

“Some people run the bottom of the track, some run the middle,” Chris explained. “To win you need to run everywhere. Ripping the lip or running a few inches off the wall at a 100 miles an hour is not comfortable for many. Max has that comfort. When you’re that close, there’s not much room for error. He’s got the skill to be able to do that.”

“The older Max gets the more fearless he gets, and the faster he wants to go,” Amy added. “As a parent there’s all the feelings that go with it. But it is truly exciting to watch.”

Max has been in his share of wrecks, but the bruises are worth it, he attests.

“It’s almost like a rollercoaster,” he said. “You flip in the air and hit the ground really hard but you’re strapped in with the best safety equipment.”

He engages a race simulator at home to hone his skills. Wearing a VR headset, he jockeys with drivers on simulated tracks mirroring real ones generated online through drone imagery.
“That’s really fun. It builds hand-eye coordination,” Max said.

He may further hone his skills by attending Northwestern Ohio University in Lima, Ohio.

“It’s basically a sprint car college,” Max noted. “I’d attend over the winter and then race in the summer.” 

“It’s a bachelor [degree] programfor learning about high performance motors and the race car world. It’s almost like a trades degree,” Chris said. “It’s what people are looking for to hire into that high performance world of NASCAR, or Indy racing.” 

The Roselands share a race shop where they’ve built and maintain three high-performance vehicles. Max can do most everything—from changing tires, fuel injectors, and air filters, to repairs and cleaning.

After COVID curtailed the 2020 and 2021 summer racing seasons, Max said, “Last year we hit it pretty hard. We entered 20 races. We gained a lot more knowledge. I’m proud we did that. I think this year it’s going to be even better.” 

He appreciates going head to head with veterans for the “experience.”

He admires elite drivers like Kyle Larson, who started the way Max did. While saying it would be “pretty cool” to meet Larson, he added, “To race against him would be even cooler.” 

Max hopes his story inspires others to achieve their dreams whatever challenges—food-born, or otherwise—they may face. 

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This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.


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