TALK IT UP TUESDAY: JP Richards
Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016 05:04pm
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!
JP Richards is a product of the core Midwest indoor electric off-road racing scene and, after a solid last few years of steadily improving results at major races, one of the area’s best known drivers. Like many racers, JP was introduced to RC racing at a young age - and, with two brothers who also race RC cars, had plenty of incentive to practice. Richards jumped into the hobby with both feet and attended large races early in his career, where he began meeting top-level drivers and developing a taste to race at the industry’s highest level. After earning a couple of national titles in the Stock and former Super Stock divisions, Richards started climbing the Modified ranks - eventually scoring the Open 2WD title at the 2014 Reedy Race of Champions. Just weeks before taking his second shot at the Invitational class, Richards switched from long-time sponsor Team Losi Racing to Team Durango with aspirations of furthering his involvement in the RC racing industry. Read on to learn more about JP Richards, his racing career, and his life.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
JP Richards: I am 22 years old, and I was born and raised in Columbus, OH.
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
JP: I started out with a Kyosho Mini Z that I got for Christmas when I was 8. About a year later, I got my first off-road car, which was a Team Losi XX buggy. So I guess I’ve been racing close to 13 years.
AW: Are you currently working or going to school? How do you schedule time to practice, wrench and race?
JP: I’m currently working and going to school. I work about 20 hours a week and am taking 12 credit hours in school. I have only two semesters left and I'll be done! I try to get to the track about twice a week, once during the week and once on the weekend. I am actually fortunate enough to have been able to schedule my job and school so that I have free time to race. As far as wrenching, most of my wrenching takes place in the first hour I get to the track and big race wrenching is usually last minute. I’m a professional procrastinator. LOL
AW: What are some of your favorite memories and biggest accomplishments from your racing career?
JP: One of my favorite memories would have to be meeting (former TLR team manager and current Horizon Hobby Category Manager) Todd Hodge for the first time in 2003 at The Tiltyard for the ROAR Modified Off-Road Nationals, The following December, he remembered talking to me at that race. It was cool to see a high-profile driver like that take the time to remember some kid from a race. My biggest accomplishments would have to be winning the Open 2WD class at the Reedy Race in 2014 and winning Stock Buggy and Super Stock 4WD at the 2009 ROAR Nationals.
AW: Congratulations on the switch to Team Durango! What was the main factor behind your big move?
JP: Thank you! I would have to say one of the biggest reasons was just more opportunities and getting the chance to work with Travis Amezcua, who is one of the last few old school racers left with so much knowledge to share. I can’t thank TLR enough for the three years we had! They took a chance on me when no one else would.
AW: After racing for so many years with TLR, was it a difficult decision to leave?
JP: Absolutely! Any time you make a major change like chassis sponsorship, it’s always going to be a difficult one. I had a great relationship with everyone at TLR and really enjoyed working with everyone on the team.
AW: How does it feel going from one of the biggest racing teams in the country to one of the smallest?
JP: It actually fits me a little better, to be honest. I like being able to work with a few people rather than several - it makes things a lot easier. Also, being able to have input on future products and testing is awesome!
AW: Did you talk to any other brands about racing for them in 2016 before making your decision?
JP: Yes I did. Durango just seemed like the better fit for me at this time.
AW: What are your expectations for the Reedy Race, and your second year in the Invitational class?
JP: Last year I had set my goal for top 15, and after the 2WD portion I was tied for tenth. Unfortunately, after a very disappointing 4WD portion, I finished 17th. This year I feel like I have progressed a lot in my patience in mains, and I learned a lot from the format last year. I’ve set a goal of making the top ten, but in the Invite class anything can happen.
AW: What do you think it will take to make the next big step, and start competing for A-Main finishes and wins at major races?
JP: It’s getting to more of the bigger events and just being put in those types of racing positions more - and that’s what I plan on doing this year. I have quite a few larger events planned for this year that I have not done in the past.
AW: What is your favorite track? Favorite big event? What about your favorite racing class?
JP: My favorite track would have to be The Ohio RC Factory, which is also my local track. My favorite big event is the Horizon Hobby Championships held at Trackside Hobbies in Wisconsin. My favorite class is 2WD Modified Buggy, for sure.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
JP: When I’m not at the track I’m most likely studying or working. But I also follow pretty much all major sports, with college sports being my favorite, and I spend a lot of time with my family.
AW: What’s your favorite part of RC racing?
JP: My favorite part would have to be hanging out with everyone in the pits. The camaraderie is awesome!
AW: What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
JP: I’m not a fan of gluing tires. Other than that, I pretty much go with the flow.
AW: Do you have any big RC career goals?
JP: Like any other racer, I want to win a world title and a modified-class national title. This year, my goal is to be top ten at every event I attend this year.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you most in RC?
JP: I would have to say Paul Sinclair of X-Factory. He is a pretty good friend of mine, and is very knowledgable about the RC Market. Anytime I have a question, he's one of the first people I call. Also, my older brother Dustin; he dragged me to so many races, I probably wouldn't be where I am today without him.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JP: Absolutely! Thanks for having me, it was fun! I'd like to thank all my sponsors for their continued support: Team Durango, JConcepts, Maclan Racing, Xpert RC, Airtronics, 92Zero Designs, LukeDawg Graphics, Lunsford Racing, The Ohio RC Factory and my family for all their support!