TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Tanner Denney
Tuesday, Jan 5, 2016 03:46pm
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
Like many RC racers who found success at a young age, 20-year-old Arizonan off-road racer Tanner Denney benefitted greatly from the experience and perspective of an older, faster mentor - multi-time national champion Ryan Maifield. With his father’s support, and Maifield’s help, Tanner quickly rose from the rookie ranks and started winning regional races, drawing the attention of Team Associated, Reedy and JConcepts. Once he started traveling across the country to attend a wider variety of electric and nitro off-road races, his lap times started dropping - and his resume of impressive victories and nationals finals appearances began to grow. Denney closed the 2015 season with a couple of big decisions, first leaving JConcepts for Pro-Line Racing in September and then ending his relationship with Team Associated and Reedy last month before the announcement that he was teaming up with Maifield again at Team Losi Racing and Team Orion for 2016. I reached out to Tanner on Facebook to learn more about how he got started racing RC cars, the big choices he made for this season, and why he’s so excited for a change of scenery.
Aaron Waldron: How did you get started in radio control, and how long have you been racing?
Tanner Denney: I first got into R/C when my parents got me a Sportwerks Raven BX buggy for Christmas. Shortly after, I was at the track watching the 2007 Cactus Classic and Ryan Maifield asked me to stand in line for him and he gave me a t-shirt and a Reedy battery. Ever since then I was hooked and looked up to Ryan as a mentor in racing.
AW: When did you decide to take RC racing more seriously, attending bigger races and signing with sponsors?
TD: In 2008, my dad and I went to the Southwest Indoor GP and I raced my first big race with a Team Associated B4 in the 19-turn division, which is like the 13.5 class nowadays. During that weekend I ended up winning and getting sponsored by Team Associated.
AW: Are you currently working or going to school? How do you schedule time to practice, wrench and race?
TD: Yes, I currently work full time and also go to college. I mostly find time on the weekends and a couple nights a week to go race and practice. Luckily with the help of my dad, wrenching really isn’t a problem - he takes care of me 100%.
AW: Congratulations on the switch to TLR and Team Orion! What was the main factor behind your big move?
TD: Thank you very much! It was really just time for me to move on, I had been racing for Team Associated and Reedy my entire career. I know change isn’t always for the best, but for me it was the right choice at this time in my career. Also, the support that everyone at TLR has shown me in the process has been overwhelming and made me feel right at home with the team.
Either Tanner changes t-shirts really quickly, or that clock doesn't work.
AW: How much did former teammate and mentor, Ryan Maifield, have to do with your switch?
TD: Huge of course, LOL. Ryan and I have had our ups and downs in the past but he has always been like a brother and mentor to me on and off the track. Not having him on the same team has been hard at times; he was always my go-to guy for anything LOL. So when Ryan asked me if I wanted to run for TLR I was very excited about the opportunity. I can’t wait to be back on the same team as Ryan and gain the knowledge he brings to the table on and off the track.
AW: After seven years with Team Associated, Reedy and JConcepts, was it a difficult decision to leave them all?
TD: Yes, you have no idea. Brent Thielke and Jason Ruona have gotten me where I am today - without the guidance and help of those two gentlemen I don’t think I could have ever had the opportunity to travel all over the country and get to experience so many different races and states. It was a difficult decision to leave both companies and I wish them both the best of luck on and off the track.
AW: When did you start talking to Team Losi Racing, Team Orion and REDS Racing? What excited you about the opportunity with each company?
TD: My contracts were up for 2016 and I wasn’t really looking for any changes but I was approached by Ryan Maifield and Kevin Gahan to run for TLR. That opportunity then opened the door to run for Team Orion for electric and REDS Racing for nitro. Each of these companies have what I need to be successful. A fresh start is what I needed going into 2016.
AW: Did you talk to any other brands about racing for them in 2016 before making your decision?
TD: No, not really. There was a little talk throughout the year with another company but nothing was really set in stone. Once Ryan and Kevin gave me the opportunity at TLR I knew that was where I belonged.
AW: What is the most difficult part of making the jump from making national-level A-Mains to trying to compete for major race wins?
TD: Man, that’s a hard one; I think the biggest thing is dedication and having the drive to be the best that you can be on any given day. I personally kind of lost some fire with racing this last year and I knew that it was time to make a move for myself. That kind of triggered the switch over to TLR and Team Orion.
AW: What is your favorite track? Favorite big event? What about your favorite racing class?
TD: My Favorite track would have to be OCRC - the way those guys put on events and races is truly next level. Even when you're having a bad day racing, they can make the day at the track that much more fun. As far as my favorite race, it’s for sure the Reedy Race of Champions in the Invitational class. The racing is so close and intense every single time you're on the track, it makes the race insane to attend. Lastly, my favorite classes are 2WD Modified Buggy and 1/8-Scale Nitro Buggy.
AW: What on-track accomplishments are you most proud of?
TD: Of course, the big one is winning the Reedy Race of Champions Open 4WD class in 2011. Also, all the A Mains I've made at the nationals and other major events.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
TD: Work, school and repeat LOL. Also hanging out with my girlfriend, my friends and of course playing Madden.
AW: What’s your favorite part of RC racing?
TD: The adrenaline that you get every time you step onto the drivers stand and begin racing.
AW: What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
TD: I try to ignore any possible annoyances. R/C is fun and I keep it that way.
AW: Do you have any big RC career goals?
TD: Yes, of course. I would love to win some national championships and become a world champion. Going into this year, though, I just want to have fun with my new teammates and make the national mains in both nitro and electric. Lastly, the biggest goal for 2016 is to make the 1:8 World Championships final since I have never raced at a 1:8 Buggy Worlds.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you most in RC?
TD: There are so many people; of course Ryan Maifield has been a huge support ever since the beginning with everything he has done for me on and off the track. Without him I probably would have never raced at the level I am today. Also, like I said before, Brent Thielke and Jason Ruona have helped get me where I am today in my R/C career, allowing me to travel and gain so much experience. Another huge help has come from Jeff “Humpty” Helms; he has helped me from the beginning as well, always there for support and anything I've ever needed he’s been there for me. I can’t thank them enough for the outstanding support throughout my R/C career.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
TD: Thank you for your time, I also want to thank Ryan Maifield, Kevin Gahan, Daniel Adams, and Joe Pillars for taking me on this year and giving me a great opportunity. I can’t wait to see everyone at the track with my new equipment! I would like to give a shout to my sponsors: TLR, Pro-Line, Team Orion, REDS Racing, Spektrum, Horizon Hobby, Airtronics, Sidewinder, Stick It1 Racing, WWHD, Hobby Action, Kustom RC Graphics, LiveRC, Schelle, and MIP.