Racing to the Skies


Max Wright’s dream job is to be a racing pilot. For some, that dream would seem out-of-reach, but Wright is ready to take to the skies. He already has plenty of experience racing on the ground. 


Max Wright in race car
Wright in the driver seat of the Formula Buckeyes race car in 2016.

Wright began racing formula sprint karts when he was seven years old. As an undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences’ air transportation major, he has competed with the Formula Buckeyes and driven the student-built racecar for three years. Now, after earning his private pilot license he’s working to earn his instrument license and aircraft dispatch certificate through The Ohio State University Flight Education program. He also supervises the machine shop as a staff member at the Center for Automotive Research.

Although machining, kart racing and piloting might not seem like a typical combination, Wright points out the intricacies of the complementary paths. Transportation, whether by land through CAR or by sky at the airport, links Wright’s interests.

“In the simplest terms, I love anything that moves anyone,” he said. “I believe transportation is so influential to our daily lives that I can make a difference in everyone’s lives through my work in transportation. I want to help build a more efficient and effective way to create new solutions to today’s problems.”

In the machine shop at CAR, Wright helps researchers and motorsports teams build custom parts to enhance leading research and winning vehicles. “I love helping them see it from start to finish,” says Wright. “You can think of something in your head, have it appear on a computer screen, and then eventually have it in your hand made out of metal. It’s a really cool process.” 

Creating specialized parts is a complex skill that takes years to master. Wright has been machining since high school, and his experience creating things for the aerospace, automotive and medical industries helps him excel in CAR’s multidisciplinary environment.


Wright with an Ohio State training aircraft
Wright with an Ohio State training aircraft at The Ohio State University Airport Don Scott Field

Those same skills are now propelling Wright towards his next transportation-related goal.

“Racing Aircraft to me is the ultimate form of racing. I grew up as a child kart racing as a family sport and knew that I always wanted to become a pilot. Then, I was able to race the Ohio State Formula car in several different competitions throughout the years further progressing my skills. I then decided to go after achieving my goal of becoming a pilot, to help me get closer to being able to fly an aerobic rated aircraft.”

In order to accomplish his goal, he’s earning his professional pilot certification through the university’s Flight Education program.

“The Ohio State University has an impressive flight training program with a terrific reputation for safety and quality instruction,” he commented. “The staff and instructors have a remarkable connection to the industry and ambition to personally benefit each student in their education. The flight school is able to provide its students with top-of-the-line aircraft and flight instructors who care about each one of their students.”

Wright’s unique path has been made possible because of the myriad opportunities afforded by Ohio State’s dedication to student success.

“Ohio State has so much to offer, with unlimited possibilities for every student no matter what their plan for the future is,” he said. “I am so excited to have the possibility to utilize such great resources and to then be able to use those resources to help the next generation of tomorrow's leaders make the most out of every day.”

by Georgia Drost, CAR writing intern; with contributions by Holly Henley, airport communications specialist

Category: Students