He doesn’t remember who or when people started calling him MAD Mike, but the name stuck.
Michael “MAD Mike” Ellis was born in 1958 to Gerald and Velma Ellis, a WWII Navy veteran who took advantage of the GI Bill to learn auto body repair and painting and a stay-at-home mother who opened her own home decorating product business.
Ellis grew up in Maysville, a small town about 35 miles northeast of St. Joseph, Missouri with four sisters. He spent his childhood playing in the fields and riding bicycles.
“I had a wonderful childhood,” Ellis said.
At the age of 14, after receiving rides on friends’ motorcycles, Ellis decided he wanted a motorcycle of his own.
“Living in a rural area there wasn’t much to do,” Ellis said. “Back then there were only three TV channels…very little, if any, youth programming. No video games. Pushing a rolling wheel around the block with a stick was something we did for entertainment. A motorcycle was a dream.”
His mother told him that if he could afford a motorcycle, he could buy one.
“I worked a summer pulling weeds in the soybean fields for $1.35 an hour, then got a job washing dishes at a Best Western my friend Steve’s uncle managed,” Ellis said. “I don’t remember how long it took to save up the money. My parents loaned me some of the money. My father worked himself into exhaustion every day and I think that helping me get a motorcycle got me away from the house and gave him time to rest.”
Ellis purchased a Honda and all was good until the day it’s transmission broke. He found a small shop, H&H Enterprise, and volunteered his time in exchange for help with the motorcycle. Ellis continued to work there after the part was installed.
After attending N.S. Hillyard Vocational-Technical School, he returned to H&H Enterprise. Ellis quickly learned that motorcycling is only a 6-month-a-year job in Missouri so he found a job in concrete he enjoyed. The work was mindless and physical but it gave him time to think of late night inventions. He was later hired to do mechanical and body work at a used car lot for 40 hours per week.
“I enjoyed that job probably more than any I have ever had,” Ellis said.
For ten years, he worked at a factory building automotive batteries. During this time he got involved with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and built his own helicopter.
Ellis moved to Florida in 1997 and hasn’t looked back since. In 2012, a sleep disorder made it difficult for him to keep a steady schedule with an employer so he decided to open his own business: Modern Automotive Dynamics (MAD), working his nickname into what he does for a living.
MAD provides fabrication, repair and customization for performance needs. The challenges he faces when starting a new project is why Ellis is excited to get up in the morning and go to work.
“Custom work is a puzzle,” Ellis said. “It takes creativity and thought much like an artist.”
If it has to do with racing automobiles, Ellis is the guy to call.