TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Kyle Rhodes
Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 03:12pm
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!
At the Big Apple Novarossi Nitro Challenge last weekend, the closest racing in the upper finals came in the final ten minutes of the 1/8-Scale Truck A-Main - between three-time ROAR Nitro Buggy National Champion Adam Drake and Connecticut native Kyle Rhodes. I had a front-row seat for the action - as the PA announcer on Sunday - and marveled at Rhodes’ confidence racing against one of the world’s fastest and most well-known stars. On the track, Rhodes has earned the reputation as one of the fastest nitro racers in the Northeast, and off the track he’s responsible for helping people in his area get the most of their hobby as the manager of Wolcott Hobby’s two locations. Get to know more about Kyle in this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Kyle Rhodes: I am 23 years old and I’m from Wolcott, Connecticut.
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
KR: I got into RC after my friends showed me their Traxxas T-Maxx. I was hooked! A few months later my parents bought me a Traxxas Nitro Sport, followed by a Team Associated B4 and that’s when I began racing. I’ve been racing for 15 years now.
AW: When did you decide to start taking racing more seriously, traveling to larger races and acquiring sponsors?
KR: I began taking racing more seriously when I was 15. I began practicing more and was able to attend more races within the region. I got a few small sponsorships with my first being Team Scream Racing for all my electric motors and batteries and I am still with them today. About a year later I had an opportunity to sign with Kyosho America for my first chassis sponsor.
AW: What do you currently do for work?
KR: Currently I work for my local hobby shop, Wolcott Hobby and Airsoft in Wolcott, CT. I am the manager of our two locations as well as the race director, RC technician for customer repairs, and build the tracks along with the owner, Lester Bastenbeck.
AW: Does working there make it easier to find time to commit to practicing and racing?
KR: I feel working in the hobby shop makes it much easier to find time to practice and at times more difficult to race. I have access to either track anytime of the day to practice after my work is done. Racing can be difficult, though. When we have an event I typically don’t practice that morning as I am trying to get the race program running and throughout the day I do some announcing along with a few other racers. When it comes to traveling it’s easier to get out of the shop for a few days compared to trying to get time off from other jobs.
AW: How long have you worked in the RC industry? Do you like it?
KR: I have been working in the RC industry for seven years now. I really enjoy it. I have been able to turn my childhood hobby into my job now. I like being able to help customers and get new people into the hobby.
Photo: Rob Oompa, via Facebook
AW: What’s your favorite track? Favorite big event? Favorite racing class?
KR: My favorite track, besides my home track, is Thornhill Racing Circuit in Hutto, TX. My favorite big event would definitely be the ROAR 1/8th Fuel Offroad Nationals and my favorite class is, hands down, 1/8-scale nitro buggy.
AW: How do you think the racing scene in the Northeast differs from other parts of the country you’ve visited?
KR: I think the Northeast racing scene differs in a few ways. The first being our tracks are much different from the other regions - they have less traction and the layouts have a different flow. We are constantly battling the weather in the summer which cuts our nitro racing short, and we have snowy winters, so we have to switch from indoors to outdoors and back every year. As a region I feel we have gotten faster the last few years.
AW: What are your most proud racing moments?
KR: I have a few moments that standout for me. I would say the first is my first big win in Modified Stadium Truck at Motorama in 2013. A few others: making the semifinal in 1/8-scale buggy at the ROAR Nationals a few weeks back, winning 2WD Modified Short Course at the Short Course Showdown against Brian Kinwald, and getting second this past weekend behind my teammate Ryan Lutz in 1/8-scale nitro truck.
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career?
KR: My main goal is to make the final in nitro buggy at the ROAR Nationals as well as qualify for a World Championship. I also want to make the A-Main in Truggy at the Nationals. I don’t race as much electric as I used to, but another goal is to attend and compete in the Reedy Race - I was selected a few years ago, but was unable to attend.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
KR: If I’m not at the track racing or practicing I am usually hanging out with friends, going to the movies, or bowling. I am getting back into BMX and plan on getting back to motocross one day. I also paint bodies as a hobby.
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
KR: The best parts of RC racing for me is the competition on the track and the camaraderie off the track. I’ve met some great people from this hobby, some of which are my friends. I also enjoy helping fellow racers with their setups or engine tuning and seeing them improve on the track and meet their goals. To me, that is just as good as me meeting my own goals. The biggest part of racing that bothers me is complaining as well as yelling on the driver stand. Yelling is very unprofessional and distracting. At the end of the day, we are playing with toy cars.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
KR: Since I have started racing I have had so many people help me out. First, my parents for allowing me to be a part of this hobby. I’d also like to thank Lester Bastenbeck from Wolcott Hobby, Greg Vogel from RC Driver Magazine, Mark Westerfield, Paul Quartuccio, Carl Smart, Tyler Falcone, Meghan Bastenbeck, and so many more. Without everyones help there is no way I would still be doing this or be where I am today.
AW: Do you have any advice for other racers?
KR: The best advice I can give is keep it fun. If you’re not having fun, then its not worth doing it. If you are having a hard time and struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help - we all need help from time to time. The last piece of advice I can offer is to never forget the age old saying “slow is fast” - I remind myself of that all the time.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
KR: Thank you for this opportunity Aaron! I would also like to thank all of my sponsors; Tekno RC, Pro-Line Racing, Alpha, Wolcott Hobby, Team Scream Racing, Race Ready Products, Denys Designs Inc, and my friends and family for the help and support. See everyone at the next race!
Photo: Alvin Crowder, via Facebook