How good do you want to be…… the first year of racing RC cars and what I had to overcome. By Venom Team Pilot Paul Peterson.

The 310 degree mistake.

I found out the hard way…

Always temp your motors. Even if you never change the gearing because air temps, track conditions and running gear condition are always large contributors to motor heat. You just never know if you have a bearing hanging up that could cause this and increase temperatures. In oval racing I try to keep the motor temps under 170˚. Most manufactures say 160˚ to 165˚ is where you should be, but at some point you may have to gear it more, if so do not go over 180˚ as you can still lose Magnet strength going over even just 165˚.

So how did I reach 301˚? My race was 150 lap special event tied to the points race and that day the track was “heavier”. I had a little push in the feature so I was using a little brake to turn the car by trying to slide the rear a little. Now in oval racing you are already sliding sideways thru the corners. The added traction and added braking along with a longer race caused my motor temps to rocket to the 310˚ mark. This melted the sensor wires right off the motor! I lost my best motor trying to keep the point lead and I was running 3rd in the race. It cost me way more than my $50 third place prize money… because I thought I could just pop in a new motor and off we go……. Wrong again…. My new motor was not as fast and after burning the other one up this was starting to get pricey. I always temp motors now. It’s a good habit to get into and will save you time, money and your race position!

All this talk brings me back to the point of maintenance. If you want to be fast and stay fast you need to take your car apart regularly to check for broken or loose parts. In the end you will be happier finding a loose part before you encounter it vs. having it fall off during a race.

Lately I have been doing fairly well with a handful of podium finishes. When I won my first feature in the summer series at Attitude Raceway I thought I would be getting more, but besides the podium 2nd and 3rd place finishes I have been leading at times but the ball is not bouncing my way as I have either hit a car or even spun out on my own. Don’t get frustrated if this happens to you. Keep pushing yourself and remember to have fun. Sometimes we can get caught up in points races and start to lose a little fun out of the hobby.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying “Don’t be competitive” as I am even more competitive than before. Just remember to smile once in awhile and have a good time. I am really into trying to get the win, but it might be awhile before I do again so always cherish your wins! Bring a camera for the memory and always keep your mind and eyes open to keep learning as you can always find something you didn’t know before, and sometimes even from the brand new people that you are helping at the track.

Getting the photo of my car in RC Car Action Magazine (http://www.rccaraction-digital.com/rccaraction/november_2013#pg27) was a real cool deal. I try whatever I can do to make my car stand out and I like to represent Venom, Atomik and my other sponsors with a flash of color and something that draws people to look at. I’m also trying to get the best exposure for them and when they put my car in the magazine it was pretty cool.

The Championship.

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After a season long battle against many different drivers. It came down to myself and the two other drivers Aaron Streblow and Wayne Peterson. I knew I had to drive the best race I could on two separate days of racing to hold them of. I have to say that it was hard staying focused and at the end I drove the best I could and tried not to mess up. I put a lot into this season and getting so consumed into the points battle, but in the end it worked out for me.

I have to remember that in the end this is a hobby and we all need to enjoy it, but it is a business too and I wanted to get that track championship for myself and my sponsors Venom RC, Atomik RC, RacingGraphics.com, Redwood signs, Diggity Design and Paints for the cool paint jobs. Also a big thanks to Joe’s Sandbar Bar and Grill in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  As well as  Adam Sippel for the great Modified Body. I also like to thank Aaron Streblow and Attitude RC Raceway for having one of the best dirt oval tracks that I know of for side by side racing and for all the help I got from fellow racers like Wayne Peterson and Brett Trochinski.

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Having fun is what it is about, just check out this photo! This was at our fall special 2 day event. Trailer races and figure 8 races… You may have seen this photo on Venoms Facebook page just before Halloween.

I ended the outdoor season taking a 3rd place trophy in the stock sportsman’s class and a third place trophy in the SC Modified class along with the SC Late Model Championship. It has been a great year, but there was a lot of growing into the sport, too. I felt as the year went on I was learning how to drive better and better each week. I also was learning the feel of the car and what to do to correct it. This all comes with time and experience, but I know a person can get frustrated in the beginning trying to learn all this.

Next up the winter season which has started already… I had my first two races and scored a victory and two second place finishes. I feel like I am learning more and more and it is coming faster to me now. Racing different tracks also helps you learn more about and how to drive on different surfaces and makes you a better driver so be sure to try other tracks as it will benefit you as it did for me last year. Remember: Take your time and have fun…

Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself of that as well.

See you all in 2014!

-Paul Peterson - Venom Team Pilot

How good do you want to be…Pt.2: The first year of racing and what I had to overcome. By Venom Team Pilot Paul Peterson.

Winter, indoor season – The start of getting better.

After a trying  summer and  some promise toward the end of the summer season. I Started to Race at Trackside speedway in Brookfield Wisconsin. (a little more travel time). When I came here to race I noticed people were a lot more serious and faster.  I thought here we go with another huge challenge. It was fun racing a different style track but this track is hard pack clay and I was used to loose dirt. I now had to experiment with new set ups. This seemed like a daunting task as I had felt I just got my cars better but to my surprise, I made a few minor adjustments and my car work even better than at  Attitude Raceway.

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I was running 3rd until I had a part break, this is where I bring up the buying used trucks on EBay. You get great prices buying used, but you get the problems that come with them too!  Running dirt oval you really want things to be tight and not loose for kids bashing and jumping off 10 foot hills. For this reason, I bought my first brand new truck and the results were great! I started to have a few podium finishes and found myself running in the fast heats which was awesome.

When you are new and trying to get better you’ll be placed in the heats where you are “in points” and unfortunately you end up with a lot of other guys just getting into the hobby. Don’t get frustrated!  Like everyone else, you need to earn your place with the fast guys. Should you get placed into a class you can’t be competitive in, you might get frustrated and not want to continue in the hobby. The more you drive, the faster you will start seeing improvement, but remember the drivers around you! Help them too as you were just at that level not long ago. In the world of RC cars it’s kinda like “pay it forward” and people will return the favors and help you in turn.

One weekend I went to the track and learned the hard way to drive less defensive. I had a problem with another driver hitting me a few times and spinning me out. I thought it was time to return the favor back but this is the wrong thing to do. It hurts your race and also could wreck another person’s race or vehicle. Remember: if you want respect, you have to give it in return.

The way I approached it was to  just stay behind that person and just drive. If they got hit by someone else I would move up a position. It eventually worked out to where you best someone and then you start getting racer respect.

Now, here is another problem… although you make friends in the RC industry, tou can’t be friends with everyone. Things happen on the track and you can’t help it, after all you are not sitting in these cars so it is hard to tell braking distance and a bunch of other variables. Be a good sport and just race. I can’t tell you enough how many times my friend Redwood and I crashed into each other and we weren’t trying to, it happens to the best of them. On the Dirt Oval it can be even worse because you can pass someone multiple times a race simply due to the smaller track size and higher overall speeds.

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The win –Yeah Baby! I’m here. I finally got one under my belt, now it’s time to dominate at the top! Wrong again! lol

Sure I enjoyed it, but the next race I broke parts and the next race after that I  crashed. Winning builds confidence but you always have to remember you are one turn away from a crash or a part failing. I do agree that finding yourself at the top of the podium builds confidence. It was awesome sending my first podium finish picture to Venom to post. On that note, always bring your camera with you if you want to immortalize your win as not all tracks take photo’s.

A quick word on my new body: –  RacingGraphics.com and Diggity Paints. After doing more and more research I bumped into these two sites. I have always liked doing things myself and learning new things. As far body painting, well I like the sponsors to be represented well so I stuck with Diggity Paints to do my body painting. However, the Racing Graphics  site allowed me to design my own graphics and do all the lettering on my own bodies.

I have now grown from someone who was afraid of a broken a- arm to someone who has taken every single part off my car and rebuilt it as well as designing my own graphics. As your experience grows in RC, you will learn this point: “How much you want to learn is based on how dedicated you are to learning.” Research, research, research. It’s the key to learning at this point. The same people that helped you out in the beginning are officially starting to see you get better and beat them a little so naturally they won;t want to give you all the speed secrets.

The internet has so much information… you keep looking but beware of the person telling everyone he has the best most awesome set up.. if he really did, would he be telling everyone so they can beat him… people will only tell you so much.. you have to try set ups and figure things out for yourself.

2013 and the big turnaround….

I started off this season with a humbling 12th place finish, but had a good Modified showing so I felt I was doing much better at Attitude Raceway. The second race of the season is where things took a turnaround. I had to start in the slower heats of the late models because I was 12th in points, this is where patience helps. I had to run be with  some slower cars in both heats and ended up not getting a fast enough time to make the main.

We run “bump ups” and take 2 out of the “B” main so I raced the ”B” main, but this time I crashed early and went a lap down. I really had to drive hard to catch up to the top 2 racers with what turned out to be 8 laps left. I tried to pass the driver in second but my rig got loose and lost a lot but really raced hard and passed him with 3 laps to go. I had to pass the leader because I didn’t want the other guy coming back and passing me. I used what I learned about making a proper “corner entry” and made the move and off the corner to pass the leader. Why did I go into so much detail about this? Well, THIS was the actual moment I knew I had raced my way into the main and built confidence from it. I started 7th out of 8 in the “A” main and ended up finishing 3rd which is pretty good coming out of the “B” main. Later that day I finished 1st in the “A” main in the dirt modified class.

Since then I have had 6 podium finishes but still just the one feature win so far through the summer. When you are consistent the wins will come. I was actually leading the last 2 events at one point just barely leading for a few moments in the turns…. It’s a blast to have figured out a few things, but once again, I have to ask myself:  “ How good do I want to be?”

Next  blog segment.. 310 degree mistake!!!!!!

The Will of a Champion: Austin Wright

The Will of a Champion

By Jeff Simon

At the furthest most tip of Florida’s panhandle, you’ll find Pensacola, containing one of our Nations greatest Naval Air Bases, beautiful beaches, and a young champion by the name of Austin Wright. First of all, I want to get this out of the way: Austin has full spectrum autism. I mention this now because it will help you understand the additional challenges he had to overcome this race season but it will be the last time you hear me mention it because the real story here is one of passion, determination, persistence, and in the end, victory.

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It was late 2012 and Austin was with his father Donnie, travelled home from a road trip to Alabama. Austin saw an RC track as they headed back toward Pensacola and asked his dad to stop.

Now something you don’t know about Austin is that he’s a big Kyle Busch fan. Possibly the biggest fan Kyle Busch has, and that’s saying something. Well, when Austin saw the Kyle Busch #18 Toyota Tundra racing around the track he was sold. He told his dad he had to have one.

Donnie made a deal with Austin: Keep your grades up and don’t bring any disciplinary notes home from school and the truck was his.  Then, while Austin was watching the racing action, his dad snuck into the shop and bought the truck anticipating his sons desire to be out there racing too.

Austin’s performance at school was exactly as his dad expected and soon he was driving and LOVING his new Kyle Busch RC truck. The next logical step was to get him involved in the race community, driving with other hobbyists and participating in local events.

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It made sense that they start Austin in a beginner’s class called “run what you brung”. After all, Austin was new at this hobby and running in that class allowed him to run his Kyle Busch truck with no restrictions. Problem is, anyone that races RC will tell you that it takes time and experience to get the feel of driving around a track and in a beginner’s class, you’ve got a lot of novice drivers struggling to learn the ropes. To add to that, this was a very diverse class that included drivers running some high powered vehicles with more raw power than what Austin’s Tundra was currently putting out. Initially Austin became frustrated when things didn’t go his way. If someone made contact with his truck or he had mechanical problems it was a major challenge for Austin to keep his head in the race. That, however, was only when things weren’t going his way.

Truth is, Austin was nearly dominating his class at the local track. When he was firing on all cylinders, (or maybe in this case, “cells”) Austin was practically untouchable. In one particular race he even finished in 5th place after the controls on his transmitter were completely reversed. That’s right, with reversed throttle AND reversed steering, Austin managed to make his way back into the pack and successfully finish the race. He was having so much fun it was decided to put Austin in a second, pan car class. Keep in mind; this is still his first year of racing.

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So Austin joins the local sportsman pan car class and again, Austin saw success. As their activities at the track grew, friends were made and soon they were contributing to the community. Everyone at the track did their part to help show Austin the ropes. They helped with repairs and set up on his car with some of his fellow racers really stepping up to the plate loaning equipment or transponders to make sure Austin could keep running. This “collective pit crew” helped Austin truly feel like “One of the guys.” This sense of belonging was something that Austin rarely found outside of this family and his day-to-day routine. This was something that kept him focused and collected.

Racing became Austin’s passion.

Diving into the race community headlong isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. Any seasoned racer will tell you that. Even with the support of newly found sponsors like Venom and a few others; things were tight in the Wright household. Yet the joy and satisfaction that Austin gained from his racing was important enough to their family that despite the increased financial burden they soldiered on. So did Austin.

Much as he did in the “Run what you Brung” class, Austin performed at the top of his game in the Sportsman Pan Class as well.

When the smoke cleared at the end of this race season, Austin had claimed the series trophy in the “run what you brung” class and ended the pan car class as the points leader (There were not enough races in this class in 2013 to award a trophy.)

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The word started getting out and people began to take notice.  First, it was the local newspaper. Next, the local television station did a story on their success. Then came the national news and interviews with “Good Morning America”.  All of this, a seeming whirlwind of affairs, Donnie and his ex-wife Jessica work together to manage and schedule for Austin’s benefit. “I’m the driver, you guys are the managers.” Austin tells them, and yet he knows that they are so much more than just managers. They’re also Austin’s publicist’s, personal assistant’s, purchasing agents, sponsor managers, moving crew and above all, they’re still his parents.

In that respect, Donnie and Jessica couldn’t be prouder of their son. Watching Austin take the reigns and run with his new found passion has given Donnie a sense of satisfaction you can hear ringing from his voice with every achievement and accolade he spoke of as I interviewed him for this article.

“Austin’s turned down other sponsors this season.” Donnie tells me. He says to me “Venom was the first company to step up and help us. Austin wants to earn his place here.” That amount of loyalty and devotion is something that we don’t see very often in this business. Generally speaking, when people are offered that “bigger-better” deal, they usually jump on it, which means loyalty is rarely even a consideration.

Later in our conversation I’m told that Austin’s #1 goal for next year is to make it to a Tier 1 sponsorship, something that in the RC race world is the equivalent of a “full ride” when it comes to receiving products from a sponsor.

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Well, we here at Venom Group are honored to let Austin and Donnie both know that for the 2014 racing season, Austin HAS earned his place on Venom’s Tier 1 team. His hard work and dedication to the sport has shown the world that he has the determination, drive and passion to be a dominating force in his region. We are honored to have him driving for us. Congratulations on your successful 2013 race season Austin, you’ve truly proven to Venom that you have the will of a champion.

How Good Do You Want To Be? — First Year Venom Team Pilot Paul Peterson gives you the inside scoop.

How Good Do You Want To Be?
The first year of racing RC cars and what I had to overcome.
By Venom Team Pilot Paul Peterson.

First of all let me tell you about myself. I have been racing for 1 year, 3 months. So far it has been a challenge to say the least. I got into this sport never racing an RC car before. I received an email from my friend Redwood who had a photo attached to the email that said my new RC car. I opened the photos and it was a dirt late model body mounted on an Associated SC10. I was sold on it immediately and wanted to know more, as I have always been a huge Dirt oval fan in full scale. This was my ticket to the closest form of racing I could afford and still have the competition I was looking for.

I went out and purchased a truck on EBay used and asked my friend Redwood make a body for me. He does an awesome job at lettering and really made my new model look fantastic.

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I then started my research to find out more about info on my local RC scene and came across a few tracks; one in particular was Attitude Raceway in Waupun Wisconsin. Just 15 minutes from my home…bonus. I contacted them and asked if they would let Redwood, my brother Wayne (who we got to buy one as well) could come out to race and they agreed.

Since then this class has gone from just Redwood’s car to over 30 drivers at Attitude Raceway. Wayne and I brought the classes to a few other tracks in the area, too. Now other tracks are having people show interest in that class too!

I thought I was going to take the world by storm, as I have been very successful racing 1/24th scale slots cars for over 20 years. Here is where reality kicked in and I found out some of the hard truths of RC racing…

I thought I would just pick up and go win… Wrong. It was a huge struggle to learn set ups, throttle and steering control and about 500 other things to process. The first pointer I can give you is that you will get a lot of information probably too fast for you to process it. Don’t get frustrated. Take the time to learn the car before you go hog wild with set ups. Get comfortable with your model and always ask questions. Understand that what works for one person may not work for you but take notes after any conversation you have with knowledgeable drivers. I have found out that most people in the RC industry know how you are feeling at the start and are very helpful. You CAN and WILL make many friends at the track!

My first race – LOL, Well it didn’t go very well as I was really pumped about racing and well, I finished last and spun out a lot. I mean, like, A LOT. That said, I was up for the challenge to get better and I listened to my peers that all said “practice, practice, practice”. If you stick with it you WILL get better. Trust me, it’s a blast! The control around a dirt oval is like always being on the ragged edge of control. Either you are sliding sideways in the turns or you’re spinning out. There is one constant though, you almost always have another racer at your side.

Maintaining control of your RC is huge and this skill will come to you with more practice. After a few races I was actually showing control, but frustrated how fast some people were. I got very frustrated, but you can’t give up at this point. I started researching and reading all the information out there about setups and adjustments for my vehicle. I would go toDirtoval.com and RCTECH.NET and just read…and read…and read.

Now here is the next piece of advice… Don’t always believe everything you read because people give information like it’s the next best thing. Use the info you find wisely and study it so you can come to your own conclusion. This is difficult at first, but the understanding comes a long later when you are able to process the information you read. It’s for this reason I always printed articles or forms that I really liked for later reference.

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So then it happened… my first broken part. I was upset! “How do I fix this?” I asked Redwood and he sat down and showed me just how easy it was to repair your model. I was like “Really?!? This is simple to fix an A-arm and repair the truck!” As parts on my rig broke, I did my best to do the repairs myself. Sometimes I went back to my new RC friends to ask for help and they were always more than willing to show me how they did it. Once again this goes back to the point that everyone had to start where you do so they know how you feel. Now I was interested because I like to tinker around so I started just taking apart a few components to see how they went together and this came in handy at the track knowing how to fix things. Here’s another great tip: Keep your manuals as they are great for reordering parts or as a reminder how to fix things at the track.

My next truck was again purchased on EBay, used. I started racing a second class and actually won my first heat in SC late Model class. Now I thought I was finally here. I had arrived. Wrong again! LOL. Now I had a new problem. Due to racing 2 classes of oval cars I was now getting confused between the two classes. I wasn’t concentrating on one and I started to have problems. I didn’t realize I was starting to fall apart because at this point I was hooked and feeling like racing every class. I worked my way up to 5 classes in the first 6 months. Big mistake. Like, MASSIVE and here is why: When you are new you are excited to race and what you end up doing is spreading your resources too thin and you hurt the other classes making you non-competitive in all classes. That’s why today I race 2 classes for points and one class just for fun. You will find out it is better to sit around and talk with other drivers instead of racing and wondering if you have your Venom batteries charged or if you set them with the non-charged batteries you just used. I could go into a lot more detail on this.

Near the summer season end I was getting better and had a handful of heat wins but still not making the A – mains. I was still racing 4 classes at this point but now I was starting to understand the set ups and what the changes did for me. Remember those notes I told you to take? I started going back and reading the notes I had been taking and the stuff was making a lot more sense. Don’t get frustrated in the beginning! It does come to you.

My venom Sponsorship
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After buying a Venom pro charger in the beginning, I thought I would send a photo of my car to Venom to show them what I was doing. They liked the car and logo very much and I asked if they were interested in sponsoring my race season. (Keep in mind that this is not a deal where companies hand you free stuff and you race for free! Speed costs money, how fast you want to go?)

Being a team pilot is a job in many ways. You represent a company and they are helping you out and in return you are helping them sell products by getting their name out there. Venom is a very popular brand name and I do my best to present myself as a professional representative of their company at every race I attend. Each day someone news gets into the RC hobby and needs to hear about Venom as it is a completely new company to them.

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Venom likes how I represent their brand with very nice looking cars and how I’m taking my newfound knowledge and helping people less experienced than myself (trust me I still had a long way to go at this point myself).

A special technical note: Make sure you plug your batteries in correctly! Some batteries have the positives and negative plugs on the opposite side a safe way to avoid hooking up incorrectly is buying a hardwired battery and using Deans plugs, but if you choose to hook up with the battery shown in the photo of my truck mark the positive or negative side with tape or some paint as it is much easier than trying to see the positive and negative symbols on the pack.

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If you hook up the battery incorrectly it will kill the pack instantly. (Trust me, I learned this.) It is not fun having a nice new LiPO become junk in one, easy mistake. If you hook up the battery backwards and you accidentally left your ESC on it will burn that up instantly too so you can see the importance of making sure you hook it up correctly!

I hope you enjoyed this blog article! Stay tuned! I’ll be posting my winter season contribution in the near future!

-Paul Peterson

So You Want to be a Sponsored Driver? Part 4: Your Local Hobby Shop: Hobbymasters Inc, Red Bank, NJ

Rounding out our “So You Want to be a Sponsored Driver?” series of articles are the words of Alan Placer, Manager of the RC division at Hobbymasters in Red Bank, New Jersey. He’ll be giving us a better understanding of how our local hobby shop plays into the world of sponsorship and gives solid advice to those looking for a leg up in the RC race world. Read on to hear Alan’s take on sponsorship…

An often overlooked place for sponsorship amongst racers is from your local hobby shop. I am the manager of the radio controlled department at Hobbymasters in Red Bank, NJ. Our store is located in a downtown area so we don’t have a track of our own. The nearest off-road track is nearly an hour away, yet we still sponsor 5 drivers. Why? Because it gives US the edge over OUR competition and it gives our DRIVERS an edge over THEIR competition.

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When you’re looking to your local hobby shop for sponsorship you need to show them how your efforts can benefit their store if they give you free or discounted product. Every time I go to a track I am looking for that person. A good team member must “represent” our store’s values and be able to get other drivers to want to shop at our store. He is the person that will go out of his way to help another driver with parts or wrenching, offers the track managers help, and is always friendly. Secondly, we want them to be an A-main driver. Another plus on a resume is a driver that goes to a variety of tracks. Our store gets the same exposure from one good sponsored driver at a track as it does 5 sponsored drivers at the same track. A sponsored driver can also be a way to shuttle parts from our store to the race track to cover special orders (so long as the local track allows). I also call on our sponsored drivers for their expertise in our repair department should our regular mechanics get stuck. Our store gets far more new product knowledge from our race team then we do from our distributor’s sales reps because they are more passionate about the hobby and keep up on it. The wall of trophies shows the 95% basher customers that we know our RC!

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Hobby Store sponsorships are more advantageous for drivers then many people realize. Having a tire sponsor doesn’t help when you need ball bearings. A hobby store can provide you every part you need to keep running and can reach out to more resources to find them when in short supply. Different stores will give different levels of sponsorships. Our drivers receive approximately 50% off anything they need. They also are provided with painted bodies, t-shirts, and a store banner which must be hung at each race. In addition, we partnered with Venom in racing many years ago so our drivers get the Venom sponsored benefits along with the responsibilities required by Venom.

I can’t stress enough the need there is for local racers to support their local hobby shops more. At the same time there is also need for the local hobby shops to reach out to the race drivers and win them back over. Sponsoring drivers is a great way to do both!

Alan Placer
Manager
Hobbymasters, inc
www.hobbymasters.com
62 White St
Red Bank, NJ 07701

So you want to be a sponsored driver? Part 3: The Track Manager: Bubba Barham, Flowood Indoor RC Park.

Furthering our series of articles on becoming a sponsored driver, we move on to your local track manager/operator and how he sees potential sponsorship applicants.

Everyone that races remote control vehicles at some point would like to have the much-coveted Sponsorship.  My name is Bubba Barham and I run the Flowood RC Indoor Park in Flowood Mississippi. I run a race track first and am a racer second.  I see a lot of things that the racers never notice.  Attitudes, behaviors and actions, however irrelevant to the you at that time, can have a massive effect on how you’re perceived at the track, which can translate in to a lost opportunity if your best representation is not always being put forward. As someone told me once, we do not give out sponsorships based solely on how good someone is at racing.  The companies that are looking to sponsor drivers/racers are looking for something in return.  It needs to work both ways.  If I were the person making the decisions to offer sponsorships, I would want someone with integrity, someone who helps others, who presents himself in a professional manner at all times.  I would want someone who would view my products as the best and be able to communicate that to others.  Companies don’t hand out sponsorships unless they get something in return and if they offer a sponsorship you need to provide that “something in return.”

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My sponsors are Venom, TLR, Spektrum, Tekin, and AKA.  I feel it is an extreme privilege to have each of these companies put their faith in my abilities as a racer and promoter.  I am certainly not the fastest racer at the track and I was not given my sponsorships because of my racing ability.  I am proud to be sponsored and I do everything I can to present myself the way each of these companies would want me to, always asking myself, “How can I help promote their products?”

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I think the sponsored individual should do everything in their power to help increase the sales for the companies they represent.  They should communicate with management and keep them informed in what is going on in their individual markets.  What is the competition doing?  What are the new hot items in the market place?  Are there any problems out there that need solutions?

It’s the answers to questions like these that will make your sponsorship valuable to the company doing the sponsoring. The clearer you are in answering these questions, the more likely you will obtain the coveted “100% sponsorship”. This is a partnership where both parties should benefit. If the relationship is one sided, you can most certainly expect your sponsorship to not last.

Thanks,

Bubba Barham
Flowood R/C Indoor Park
www.flowoodrc.com

So you want to be a sponsored driver? Part 2 (cont.): Team Driver Chris Blais.

As promised, here is our second driver article for our series on becoming a sponsored driver. This time, we see the view from a driver that originally started in motorcross and transitioned into RC very successfully based on his prior sponsorship experience. Keep reading to hear his story…

What it takes to be a Sponsored Driver

By: Chris Blais

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You have to look at it from a business perspective. Companies don’t want to give out discounts or free product if they don’t think they will get a return in some way. I use Facebook and also send out monthly Press Releases, along with a Press Release after each big event. My PR contains a race report from the event, YouTube videos of each main event with sponsor logos at the beginning and sponsor logos with links to their website. Each of our team sponsors use this content to advertise their product on their websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc. The Blais Racing Services team reports are a lot more than what most people can do but it makes it much easier to get sponsored and keep your current sponsors happy.

Sponsors are looking for those working hard to promote what their doing and keeping everyone informed. They want to hear from you on a regular basis and keep them and the RC industry updated. Not a single sponsor we have now did we apply for. They have all come to us asking if we would run their product because of the PR we were putting out. They wanted to be involved and be a part of our program. If you want to see what we do and be added to our PR list, just send me an email at contact@blaisracingservices.com. This may give you some helpful ideas of what you can do or even do better. I just started rounding up email address I could find from websites and in the magazines and just started emailing them my race reports. It’s easier to contact and ask a sponsor for some help when they at least have seen what you do or who you are. You have to stand out more than everyone else if you want to be noticed when applying. We live in a world of technology and small written race reports without videos or photos aren’t enough anymore.

The best place to try and start is with your local track. Track owners usually know a lot of people in the industry and can get you connected. The first sponsor is always the hardest to get then it gets easier. Yes you need to be a decent driver in your respective class to be able to get support the easiest. You need good results to advertise for the company. If you are repetitively at the back of the pack, it’s hard to say the products you are using are helping you. When you are smoking everyone at your local track, they want to know what you are using and normally go the same route. As a sponsored driver, you are expected to represent the company professionally on and off the track. Talk to people and help educate them on the products and company you represent. Show good sportsmanship at the track. Give the company feedback on the products and what you think. This is how their products progress and get better.

If you’re not out there to perform to the best of your ability, don’t ask for sponsorship. Companies want to sponsor people who want to be their best and want the best products for the job. It’s also best to stick with a sponsor for as long as you can & build a lasting relationship. This is great for both parties.

When I first started to get back into RC again two years ago, I knew I wanted to be a sponsored driver. Five years ago I was injured that ended my career as a Professional Off-Road Motorcycle racer. I had a lot of great sponsors in that industry and knew I could do the same in the RC industry. The first thing I did was made friends with my local track owners at Coyote Hobbies in Victorville. Dave Batta and his wife Mona are great people. I went to my local track about twice a week and started doing very well at the track. One day Dave offered me a great sponsorship package if I were to travel to some different local events and compete to represent Coyote Hobbies. My next sponsor was Proline. I just happened to go to Thunder Alley in Beaumont, CA one night with my 4×4 short course truck and lapped everyone in my race. Three of the guys worked at Proline and Tim Clark offered me a starter deal right on the spot. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Our current team sponsors are Coyote Hobbies, Proline, Venom, Tekno RC, Team Associated, and Tekin. Thank you for everything you do for us. Seeya at the races!

Chris Blais
www.blaisracingservices.com

So you want to be a sponsored driver? Part 2: Team driver Jimmy Wright.

Continuing our blog series on becoming a sponsored driver, we will get the views of two of our team drivers. The first, is Jimmy Wright owner of Track Star Services and Venom team driver, the second, which will be posted next week, will come from Chris Blais of Blais Racing Services who is also a Venom team member. First, let’s hear from Jimmy:

Track Star Jimmy ReedyRace2012Venom

In the hobby industry racing is roughly 15% of its existence. That relates to 85% of the hobby as “bashers” or “enthusiasts”. How does a company in this industry speak the quality, durability and power of its products to the 85% and those in the 15% who have yet to try the products? Through racing and advertising. Print ads can show you what a product looks like or how it fits. Video ads can show you how it looks when it runs or flies. Race results give the potential customer a justification of how it performs and how so in a competitive situation. The final key to all of this is the personalities behind the products. The sponsored drivers and pilots. Let me surmise this in short. A company can spend a multitude of money on print and video ads to convey their product on how it looks and performs on track with “Competitor X” at the wheel or stick. To have the interaction with Competitor X seals the deal. A customer may have never seen or heard of a product but to have interaction with it and its representative can make for an instant sale especially at the track or flying field.

So how do you become Competitor X?
First of all you have to put in the time at your track or flying field. Do you have a good relation with your peers and the local shop owner(s)? If you said yes to both you are headed in the right direction. Have you won a few competitions or placed well consistently? Then you are almost there. Do you spend part of your time at the field or track helping someone newer to the hobby than you even if it’s just to say “Hi, my name is Comp X, if you need anything I’m right over there?” If you have said yes to all of the above you are just about ready to become an outside sales representative. Say what? I want to be sponsored, not a sales rep. They are one in the same. Again you have to know a bit about what you are “selling” in order to become sponsored. Have you used this brand before? Why are you using that particular brand? Why is it better than the others? Can you be honest? Do you truly believe in the company that has just sent you $500 worth of products to show, demonstrate and perform with? You need to have also said yes to all of those questions too.

Now you are ready. You have time into the competition side of the hobby. You have a good reputation with your peers and shop owners. You have tried several brands and like them for a reason and know why. You are of the personality type that you can talk to and relate to others and help them at events. You now need to put together a resume’ and send it to the companies that you have used and believe in their products.

Your resumes were accepted and you are now Competitor X, the sponsored guy! Congratulations!

Now what?
Now you get out there to the track or flying field and talk up the product. Hand out stickers or other swag that the sponsor has given you to hand out. Keep doing what you have been doing before you were sponsored and more. Let others try the products that you are sponsored with. Show them how they are better. Tell them where your local shop is to get those products. Now make sure your equipment is 100% clean and presentable. Make sure your pit space is professional and organized. Have your sponsors logos prominently displayed on your competition vehicle(s). Go as far as to have some of their products out on your table for others to see what the skilled guy is using or to have at the ready to use in a discussion about that product.
After your event whether good or bad get back to your sponsors and give a small report of how the day/weekend went. Include details on how you promoted their products (pictures always help) and keep in touch often even if you don’t have an event for a few weeks or so. Communication goes a long way both at the events and with your sponsors. Again you are a Sales Representative for those companies that are “paying” you in discount or products so take it seriously yet have fun with what you are doing. After all it’s still your hobby.

-Jimmy Wright
Track Star Services

We want to thank Jimmy for his contribution to our blog series. Check back next week for words of wisdom from Chris Blais!

So You Want to be a Sponsored Driver? Part 1: The Manufacturer.

Sponsorship. When most enthusiasts hear that word it means free product. To others it means competitive racing, and still to others it’s a badge of honor. Everyday here at Venom we receive sponsorship requests ranging from professional drivers to local clubs, tracks and of course, RC enthusiasts from all disciplines looking for their first “in” to the world of free or discounted product. In this blog series we will be covering several perspectives of sponsorship, the first being from that of the manufacturer. Later in the series we’ll be bringing you views from our drivers, track owners and local hobby shops so you can see what they’re doing to maintain or improve their “sponsored” status.

Part 1: First impressions count.

Often times when a driver wants to approach a company for sponsorship, their first impulse is to “apply” for a sponsorship either online or over the phone. Many manufacturers have sponsorship information on their websites with specific criteria for applying to their team. It is important to seek this information out and review it before making contact with the company. As in all things, being prepared goes a long way to impress your potential sponsors. Think of applying for sponsorship like applying for a job. There is a pool of people out there competing for the same sponsorship slots and you want to put out the best representation of yourself from the moment you make first contact. If you can, prepare a resume of your RC experience. Why do you feel you deserve a sponsorship? What your plans are to help promote the brand name you are applying for? What influence do you have over your local area/region? Basically: What can you do for US? All of these questions are relevant to any sponsorship applicant even if the company does not request a formal “resume”. Having a well-prepared report for your reason behind requesting a sponsorship goes a long way in the eyes of a manufacturer and shows that you’ve done your homework. Oh, and speaking of impressions, plan on using your Facebook page as reference for all your RC pictures? Better make sure your six pages of kegger party pictures have been removed, because like it or not, it’s all taken into consideration.

JesseMunn

Part 2: Know your role.

Most of our sponsored drivers out there are exactly that: Drivers. They compete at a wide variety of tracks, lakes or fields around the country looking to find their place on the podium. We value every one of our team drivers out there, but did you know we offer sponsorships to a much broader range than just racers? We have 4H clubs, tracks, local representatives, shops, flying clubs and more, all with varying levels of sponsorship and commitment. To us, having active representation at the track, helping people with their battery issues, providing a charging station, going to local “fly-ins” and just being active in their RC community has just as much value as our podium placing drivers.

Yet, to be one of these “ambassadors”, you have to go out of your way to provide content to the company so that we have material to help promote YOUR efforts in the field. To provide a battery to a winning driver has a positive benefit for us, but having pictures, race updates, videos, blog posts, and other dynamic content filtering in from a reliable source is the lifeblood of any successful sponsor relationship. Basically, we really like to see what our investment is buying. The more we see from a sponsored individual in terms of content helps us quantify the return on our investment and the more willing we are to increase your discount. That’s right. Discount.

Part 3: Nothing in life is truly “free”.

Here’s where the harsh reality of “free product” comes in. There really is no free stuff. You have to work hard for your sponsorship, and practically no one starts out in the top tier getting product for free. Generally, you will begin with a respectable discount. If you have proven that you can provide constant coverage of your “adventures” in RC hobbies and give the company a constant flow of material to work with, your discount will increase. If we really like the results of your actions, you might earn yourself a tier 1 spot in which we provide you with our products at a 100% discount.  Don’t fool yourself though, to get to that level takes a whole lot of hard work and communication with your sponsors.

Sponsorship has to make sense for both parties, and when it does, it works wonderfully. When it doesn’t, it’s frustrating for the driver and the sponsor. If you’re serious about landing sponsorships and keeping them, prepare yourself. Do your homework, and be ready to sell yourself as a representative of their company.

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In the future, we will be releasing multiple follow-ups to this blog series, going over the ins and outs of a sponsored driver life, what our existing team members to do keep their sponsorships, how sponsorships can positively affect a local track and finally, what sponsored hobby shops do to earn their right to be called a “Sponsored Hobby Shop”. Until next time, stay safe and have fun out there!

Article Author: Jeff Simon

Venom Releases the Venom Stronghold Solo Battery Charging Containment System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, RATHDRUM, ID – AVAILABLE JANUARY 2013

Venom is proud to bring you The Venom Stronghold Solo, the ultimate solution for safe battery charging for hobbyists and RC enthusiasts. Safety charge your LiPO, NiMH, and LiFE RC Batteries.

RC Battery Charging Safety

Venom Stronghold Solo Battery Charging Containment System

This heavy-duty stamped aluminum box minimizes potential damage and features a shatterproof polycarbonate window for visual monitoring of your battery packs during charging or discharging. The Stronghold Solo comes with a long lead balance block, allowing seamless operation with a charger of your choice (Not Included). The Stronghold Solo was designed to help contain fire and gasses by dissipating the pressures at a controlled rate and is rated for lithium batteries up to 60-watt hours. Never before has it been safer to charge your battery. Get some piece of mind… get a Stronghold Solo.

*NOTE: The use of the Venom Stronghold Solo does not eliminate the risk of a lithium polymer battery fire. Users should always follow the safety warnings, instructions and guidelines provided by their battery and charger manufacturers in connection with this product.

Specifications:

Dimensions: 9.25x6x4.25in (235x154x108 mm)
Weight: 1.9 lbs
Max Battery Size: 60 Watt
Balance Block: 2-6S JST XH. Extra long leads. (Compatible w/ Pro Charger, Stronghold 25A, and Venom Medion Dual 10A charger.)

Features:

  • Heavy-duty stamped aluminum case
  • Aluminum carry handle
  • Designed to contain LiPO packs up to 60-watt hours
  • Balance block with extra long leads
  • Hinged lid with polycarbonate window for easy battery observation
  • Rubber feet protect the surface it rests upon
  • Positive snap latch makes it a great carrying case for batteries
  • Reusable – does not require replacement like a LiPO charge sack.

The Venom Stronghold Solo is rated for Lithium Polymer batteries up to 60-Watt Hours:

Cells Voltage Maximum Capacity Watt Hours
2S 7.4V 8000mAh 59.20
3S 11.1V 5400mAh 59.94
4S 14.8V 4000mAh 59.20
5S 18.5V 3200mAh 59.20
6S 22.2V 2700mAh 59.94

Part #0672  |  Venom Stronghold Solo Charge Box | Retail: $69.99
*Note: Retail Prices are for US Customers Only

Venom products can be found at hobby shops throughout the U.S. and over forty-five countries worldwide.

For more information on the Venom Stronghold Solo Battery Charging Containment System, visit Venom online at: www.venom-group.com or email us at sales@venom-group.com.

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