TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Lee Martin
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 04:43pm
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 of the top pros in RC racing, British off-road ace Lee Martin was introduced to the hobby at a young age when he and his father began frequenting the local track. Nearly 20 years later, he’s amassed one of the most impressive careers in history. Not only is he one of the fastest racers on the planet, but he even founded his own brand, which distributes top-shelf brands and produces its own accessories. Read along to learn more about Lee’s career, his goals, and what he loves most about RC racing.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Lee Martin: I am 31 years young, from Newbury, England.
AW: How did you get started in radio control, and how long have you been in the hobby?
LM: We had a small club at my school and one day after staying behind after class to do some sports, I saw some of the racing that was going on. The next week I got my dad to come and check it out and on my 13th birthday he got me a Tamiya Avante 2001 - we had no idea at that point. We took the mighty Avante to our local club and did one race with it. The club then requested I think about using a different car as the Avante was dangerous for marshals with its unique design (basically it would hurt when a younger me drove it flat out into someones leg). That same week we went to a local hobby shop on the clubs advice and purchased a Schumacher Cat 2000 EC. From that point on, we were hooked.
AW: When did you decide to start taking racing more seriously, traveling to larger races and acquiring sponsors?
LM: My dad was a jump-in-the-deep-end kind of guy, so I started racing in 1997, venturing further afield quite quickly and did my first Worlds in 1999. My first sponsor came about in 1998 I think and it was the local hobby shop that we got our Schumacher from. It was quite a big deal to be sponsored back then - something I think has sometimes been abused a little in the industry today.
AW: Can you tell me more about LMR? Is that your full-time job? Do you find it difficult to set aside time to commit to practicing and racing?
LM: An average work day is usually 14 hours and I tend to work 6-7 days a week, so I am a bit of a sucker for punishment. My main commitment is racing and testing. I am lucky enough to be able to call racing my career, but I also have one eye on the future and what it could hold and that’s where LMR comes in. Luckily I have a supportive family who will step in to help ease the workload and play a big part in running the business.
I have recently started running RC training and workshop days. These are either one-on-one or in small groups to try and teach more people how to improve and understand racing a little better. Our hobby is not one that you can easily learn on your own and often it’s hard to find the answers to the questions, so I am trying to improve that.
I have some good ideas for LMR too. Be sure to keep an eye on them at www.l-m-racing.co.uk
AW: What’s your favorite track? Favorite big event? Favorite racing class?
LM: Well, I always love the buzz of big races. The Neo Race is always fantastic because it’s a completely mutual track and everyone has the same track time. EOS is also getting better and better with improved carpet, tracks and a great atmosphere.
The best races are ones with your friends and when you get the chance to meet new people. Anything off-road with nice jumps is a bonus. My favourite tracks depend on my mood or where I am in the world. You have to love places like OCRC, but I have fond memories of racing red clay tracks in Florida. If I’m in the UK, then RHR Dirt in 1/10-scale & Kent MCC in 1/8-scale would be my choices.
AW: What are your proudest racing moments?
LM: Being able to win races and get my name on some nice trophies over the past few years.
5 x European Champion 9 x National Champion 2nd Place IFMAR Worlds Multiple IFMAR A-Mains 3 x EOS Champion Multiple Cactus Classic podium finishes The Neo Race A-Mains Italian Job Winner Making I think it was 56 National A-Finals in a row without missing one - a new record at the time.
AW: A couple of years ago, you were part of a McDonald’s UK stunt where you jumped a couple of semi trucks with a 1/8-scale truggy. Did you ever think RC racing would open up opportunities like that?
LM: No, not really. RC racing has opened many doors to things I could never have imagined were possible. I have met many people from different countries and walks of life who love RC. Each person has their own story and it’s great to get to meet and learn about others whilst sharing my passion for RC cars.
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career?
LM: Professionally, I would love to win one of the big races in the USA and it would be a great achievement to win an IFMAR Worlds. I have been close, but no cigar yet! Another goal of mine is to open this hobby up to as many people as possible.
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
LM: The best part is meeting new people, making new friends and getting to share this with my family. Some of my closest and trusted friends are RC racers!
What bothers me is the pressure that I put on myself. I don’t like to let anyone down and after a bad result, I can be pretty hard on myself.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
LM: I really enjoy spending time with my family when I can. I have two very energetic little boys and it’s great to watch them grow and help them to develop whilst giving my wife a break sometimes! Apart from that I enjoy cycling and eating out at different places.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most in your RC career?
LM: There are too many to name, but the guy that I really owe it all to is my father. He guided me from hitting walls flat out, to driving at world championships and winning a few races along the way. He really pushed me into becoming professional and encouraged me to take some chances to get me where I am today. I can never thank him enough.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
LM: Thanks for reading! Hope to see you all at the track soon.
Thanks to my sponsors for their continued support: