A virtuoso at the wheel: For the YouTube series “Need a Ride”, brand ambassador Maro Engel chauffeurs celebrities in the latest Mercedes-AMG models — where he's a racer, a gentleman and a good friend all at once. The perfect companion.
May in Manchester. Maro Engel arrives at the plaza in front of luxury hotel The Lowry. As he steps out of the car, a young man from the production team hurries toward him with an umbrella. It's different here than the Côte d‘Azur, where Engel calls home. Manchester versus Monte Carlo. Clearly no comparison. But Engel is a pro. A gentleman. He laughs off the rain. Now isn‘t the time to talk about the weather anyway. It‘s time for a new episode of “Need a Ride”.
“Need a Ride” is a video series that would not be possible without Maro Engel. He‘s the host of the show, driving his “clientele” through the world’s major cities in the latest Mercedes-AMG as he draws incredibly interesting details from his celebrity travel guests about their lives as well as their passion for performance, cars and speed. While doing so, Engel is always careful to look smart. He wears a stylish black suit with a white pocket square. Nothing at all like the usual fireproof racing suit. In 2018 Maro drives Formula E, competes in GT motorsport races and is an official AMG brand ambassador. He’s an established globetrotter in racing. A speed freak since he was little. Even as a child, the native German loved to climb into the Formula 1 racecars at the Grand Prix in Monaco before training started and to put his hands on the wheel: “When the mechanics allowed me to do that, for me it was like Christmas and my birthday in one.” To this day, Maro brims with gratitude when talking about the environment in which he grew up.
Mercedes-AMG truly could not have found a better ambassador for its “Need a Ride” series than multilingual Maro Engel. He calls Mercedes-AMG “family”. Engel has been associated with the company since 2007 — which is why he becomes understandably emotional when he says that he’s been “a fan of this thrilling brand since I was a teenager”. This isn’t a prepared statement whispered by some media consultant. For Maro Engel it’s a veritable credo. The model that represented his AMG initiation is an SL 55 AMG, built in 2001.
Maro was just 16 years old when a good friend of the family drove up to his parents’ home in that brandnew firecracker to take him to a kart track nearby for open training. “Bernd Schneider picked me up in that car. It was one of the first SL 55 AMGs ever available. An incredible car: 500 hp, compressor engine,” he recalls. “And don’t get me started on the sound. And when Bernd accelerated for the first time after the highway tollbooth, I was smitten.” Schneider became mentor to the young racing whiz, and together they went on to win the 24-Hour Race at the Nürburgring in 2016 in a Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“The intriguing thing about ‘Need a Ride’,” says Engel, “is that someone gets in your car who has a unique story to tell. They’re successful people in their respective fields who are quite similar in their way of thinking and who are united by a great sense of purpose.” In his job as a chauffeur and host, Engel doesn’t think of himself at all as a journalist. He is, however, interested in the “story behind things”. His goal is for his passengers to start talking about themselves. When cruising through the different cities, he sees himself more in the role of the straight man. “I’m a friend to natural conversation development,” he says. “You can always learn from people who are successful in their lives. In fact, with every filming of ‘Need a Ride’ so far, I’ve taken something away with me.” To wit:
MUNICH with Mike D., Rapper & Multitasker. “Mike D. marked the launch of ‘Need a Ride’, and it was an extremely cool, witty, enjoyable shoot. Mike has experienced an awful lot, and of course he’s a bit crazy as well. At the beginning of the episode, after surfing the famous Eisbach standing wave, he got into the car in a wetsuit that was still wet. I was aware of the Beastie Boys, the band that made Mike D. world famous. But at the start of the shooting, I didn’t realize how much influence they actually had. I was still a baby when they celebrated their first massive successes.”
HONG KONG with Joey Pang, Tattoo Artist. “For me, Hong Kong was special for a number of reasons, because I was able to celebrate my biggest single win there in 2015 with the Macau GT Cup victory in an SLS AMG GT3. On the day of the shoot—I had driven the Macau Grand Prix the day prior— came the next highlight, because our starting point for ‘Need a Ride’ was exactly where I had competed in the Formula E race a month before: Central Hong Kong is really a surreal setting, with endless traffic and loads of very narrow streets. And there’s Joey Pang and me in the middle of it. When she told me that people had to wait three or four years for an appointment with her, I couldn’t believe it. And then during the ride she rolled up my shirt sleeve and painted a tattoo pattern on my forearm with pencils. When I saw the finished work of art, I was quite speechless — but I haven’t yet gone under the needle. I don’t have the necessary courage.”
BERLIN with Franziska “Franzi” Knuppe, Model. “We filmed in Berlin during Fashion Week. It’s just plain fun to work with Franzi Knuppe. She’s a cool woman who’s very successful and coordinates work and family magnificently. You can really learn a thing or two from how open and freely she deals with all situations. She always has a smile on her face, actually, even when — especially during our shoot in Berlin — it was time on the clock for her and not free time. She had to go from one event to the next, and I had the pleasant task of getting her from A to B. I can imagine that there’s always a lot of pressure, especially in her job with its late working hours, long photo shoots and extravagant fashion shows. It’s impressive to see how she simply smiles away all that pressure and really enjoys her work. It also rubbed off on the rest of us during filming, and the working atmosphere was extremely relaxed.”
PARIS with Thierry Marx, Chef de Cuisine. “When Thierry got in with me, I immediately sensed how fascinated he was by the car. All he wanted me to do was to hit the gas right away — which I would have loved to do, but the problem was that we were stuck in Parisian city traffic. We had what felt like 300 cars in front of us and there was little for us to do at first. Instead, a conversation developed between us that was all the more interesting, and where I was able to discover many similarities between racing and award-winning cuisine. Both are team sports where everyone has to give their best to be successful in the end. In the kitchen of his Michelin starred restaurant, Thierry is the boss, and he has to make sure that all the other tiers, such as the sous chefs, are perfectly coordinated so that everything comes together in the end. As I was able to see for myself on location in Paris, Thierry does this with incredible calm and concentration. And he does it even though not everything goes according to plan in the kitchen, just like with us during a race. How Thierry handles that over and over again every day, that was very inspiring.”