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A view from the driver’s seat – One Degree 5 Questions with Brian Makse

It was time we reached out and did a 5 Questions article!

Brian is my favorite car-guy online and I suggest, if you love cars, follow him on all the Social Media platforms (below) and on his site. Not only a knowledgeable car journalist and racer – but a funny, funny guy!  So, here are 5++ Questions he generously answered!

One Degree: Where did the passion for cars come from?

Here’s the straight-up truth: I inherited my passion for cars from my father, a legitimate car guy, and my need for speed from my mother, who continued to pull speeding tickets into her seventies. 

My father had some interesting cars and introduced me to the magic of cars by bringing home Road & Track and Car and Driver magazines from the glory days of print. I clearly inherited my passion for driving from my mother, who loved going fast. What’s worse is that my uncle on my father’s side of the family race cars before I was born.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that I’d do something with cars. I started racing in my early twenties and I’ve never particularly cared for the type of car I’ve raced. As long as it’s competitive, I’m good to race in anything, but I’ve been particularly successful racing Hondas. 

With road cars, there’s a time and a place for most of them. Testing a Bentley while staying in a luxury hotel on the ocean? Yes, that works for me. Driving the hell out of an 800-horsepower Dodge Challenger on deserted mountain roads? That works for me, too. 

One Degree: Your site is a wonderful blend of exotics, attainable cars (for us mortals) interviews and general car info! When did you start it? How is it doing?

We put the site together a couple of years ago and it’s been running with the same format since inception. However, it’s part of a larger, long-term strategy for us and we’re working on a number of changes that will be rolling out in the coming months, some of which will transcend the current medium. 

I’m fortunate to test nearly everything and enjoy all sorts of cars, from hatchbacks to hypercars. Although I contribute to a number of Canadian and international publications, I have plenty of stories to share and is where I share them. We have a couple of contributors that have a similar passion for cars, but a different perspective than mine. 

The most interesting thing is that the automotive landscape is changing rapidly and this is a bit of a clue to where we’re going. Long-term changes are coming from the converging forces of autonomous and electrified vehicles. Mainstream media has skewed consumer perception to unrealistic places and here’s the long and short of it: EVs aren’t being adopted at any significant rate and self-driving cars aren’t coming any time soon, no matter what Elon Musk says on Twitter. 

One Degree: – I know Jim Kenzie and worked a bit with a few of the journalists … there were always wild and crazy stories about press cars that perhaps were … let’s say driven interestingly! Any stories you care to share that won’t jeopardize your career? Any that will!!

Hanging out with Jim, I’ve heard some of those crazy stories, but those were all from a different era – before the Internet and smartphones. My stories are pretty benign and relatively legal. For example, the fastest speed I’ve driven any car, including race cars, is actually on the German Autobahn, which is a tick over 300 km/h. 

The best thing that’s come from this world of automobiles has been the amazing people I’ve met from all walks of life. There are plenty of interesting characters I’ve gotten to know and definitely some stories that can never be put into words. 

Unfortunately, in my part of the world, we have a road system plagued by poor conditions and juvenile speed limits, so there’s not much point to driving, ahem, enthusiastically here. For example, the roads I grew up driving used to have an 80 km/h limit and now they’re 50 km/h for no obvious reasons. Thankfully, there are other places in the world with great roads.

It’s worth mentioning that Jim is one of a handful of my automotive media colleagues who I thoroughly trust behind the wheel. He’s raced for years, is levelheaded, conscious of his driving abilities, and respects the machinery. 

One Degree: As an accomplished writer and videographer – do you approach your content differently for each medium? Write to be read vs write to be spoken?

Calling me accomplished in generous! 

There’s a bit of crossover when writing for either medium, but for either a story or a video to be strong, they require a different approach. Video can appear unscripted, but it’s not. Our best work is precisely scripted and shortlisted, and with video, you can rely on the visuals and audio to tell some of the story. For example, when we test a car that sounds great, we always include a bit of that car’s soundtrack. 

Nick Busato [] and Russell Soares [] have been instrumental in helping me produce video pieces with strong visuals and soundtracks, respectively. Nick taught me a bunch of tricks to put together visually appealing shots. Russell is simply a talented musician and audio engineer. 

A written piece requires a different touch, whether you’re trying to entertain or persuade the reader, for example. I’m always learning more about the craft of writing and one of my favorite written stories of late is a piece about a racing engineer who is one of the unsung heroes in motorsport.

One Degree: Social Media – anything you have found that is weird wonderful or surprising in your SM travels? Like a channel you thought would work great for you – or maybe one you thought wouldn’t, but did? You use Facebook, Twitter IG, and YouTube … any thoughts on these channels? Like best response and best connection to fans? Maybe what you would like to see improved generally?

Over the last few months, I’ve found that both growth and engagement on traditional social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been flat. 

I still use those social channels to connect with people, but I think we have the best conversations on YouTube with some of our viewers. I enjoy having in-depth conversations with viewers who in the midst of the purchase process, whether they’re looking at a Bentley or a BMW. 

There are plenty of people who are looking to validate their recent car purchases, but they’re often disappointed because inevitably I have some criticisms about their cars that they don’t agree with. 

On the other hand, the worst of YouTube commenters is more truth than myth and there are plenty of angry people out there. You’d truly be surprised at how awful some people can be, but we block them when it gets out of hand. 

 One Degree:  What gear do you have to pack to do on-the-road car reviews?

This is a great question that I don’t get too often any longer, but it goes to show that it’s not the equipment that matters. My basic kit includes three GoPros, two microphones, a cool little LED light, a Canon T4i (yeah, it’s old) with a couple of lenses, a tripod, plus spare batteries, chargers, and SD cards. My iPhone will also be pressed into photo and video duty from time to time. When we get fancy, we use a slider, serious camera-car mounts, and a Panasonic GH4 for 4K video.

One Degree: Care to give our readers a quick BIO????

This is my official bio, and it’s all true:

Brian Makse is a championship-winning racing driver, performance driving coach, and an auto writer and presenter. He holds multiple road racing track records, has raced off-road trucks and has driven many of the world’s famous circuits including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road Atlanta, and Laguna Seca. As a life-long automobile enthusiast and accomplished racer, his stories are filtered through the lens of a highly experienced driver, giving his readers and viewers a unique perspective on the world of automobiles.

Thanks for the opportunity and I hope your audience enjoys it!

Brian Makse


Here is where you can catch him!

And his new site

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One Comment

  1. Mark Borkowski
    Mark Borkowski November 6, 2019

    I wish that Brian Makse would write more columns and updates on new model releases. He has a keen eye and can spot the winners and losers that are released one season from another.

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