If you spend some time talking with Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders – and, by the way, you should spend some time talking with him because he’s one of the nicest riders in the MotoAmerica paddock – you’ll detect something unusual about his accent.
He currently resides in Slidell, Louisiana, right in the heart of America’s Cajun Country, but he doesn’t really sound like a guy from the bayou. His dialect is difficult to pinpoint until you discover that he was born in merry old England, and he moved to Louisiana when he was 11 years old.
“My Mum and Dad are from Burton and Manchester in England,” Flinders says with the quintessential “Mum” reference to his mother giving another hint to his U.K. origins. “My Dad was offered a job at the NASA rocket testing facility in Mississippi, so we moved to the U.S., and my parents bought a house in Slidell, Louisiana, which is just across the border from where my Dad works in Mississippi.
“Since coming to the U.S., I’ve kind of downplayed my British accent, especially when I was in school. If you want to fit in with the kids in the neighborhood and not have to answer a lot of questions, having a British accent is not the best way to go about it. I always tried to sound like I was one of the locals, but a true Louisiana dialect is almost like a completely different language.”
Flinders’ accent is neither Cajun nor Cockney, but he says when he talks to his relatives in England his British accent definitely comes out. “My Mum and Dad are here, but my sister and pretty much my whole family are still in England. I’ve spent so many years toning down my British accent that people say it’s a little hard to detect…unless I’m talking to my Granddad, or my sister, or someone else back home.”
In some ways, Flinders sounds a little bit like former Superbike rider Jamie Hacking when he talks, and for good reason. Like Flinders, Hacking was born in England, but he moved with his parents to South Carolina at a young age. Admittedly, a South Carolina accent and a Louisiana accent are about as different as night and day, but with the British accent mixed in, there’s definitely a similarity.
Since Flinders lives in Louisiana, which is an area of the U.S. that produced such notable road racing stars as Freddie Spencer and Jamie James, but he was born in the same country as Mike Hailwood, Barry Sheene and Cal Crutchlow, who are his racing heroes?
“I’ve had the chance to meet both Freddie and Jamie, and they’re both great guys and legends of our sport. I always root for Cal Crutchlow, and I also really like Bradley Smith a lot. But, I was actually named after Max Biaggi because I was born the same year that he won the 250 GP World Championship. So, Max was my first racing hero.”
Britons and Anglophiles the world over are positively twitterpated over the upcoming Royal Wedding that is taking place on Saturday. So, will Flinders enjoy a spot of tea while watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows?
“I will probably watch the big event with my girlfriend Courtney Meyers, and of course, we’ll have some tea and biscuits.”
It seems that you can take Max Flinders out of England, but you can’t take England out of Max Flinders…especially when it comes to the Royals.