TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Paul Ciccarello
Tuesday, Jul 19, 2016 03:44pm
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!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Paul Ciccarello - or “Chicky” as he’s known around the track - without a smile on his face. Whether he’s racing on carpet, asphalt or dirt, with either an electric motor or nitro engine powering his vehicles, Paul always seems to be having fun. I hit him up for a Talk It Up Tuesday interview to learn more about his past and what led him toward a career in the RC industry.
Photo: Derek Sousa, via Facebook
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Paul Ciccarello: I’m 41 years old and originally from Wappingers Falls, New York. Now I live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
AW: How did you get into RC?
PC: When I was about 11 or 12 I got a Marui Samurai 4wd. I didnt really know what what I was doing and it always broke so I lost interest mainly because I didn't have enough money to fix it. I always went to the hobby shop and saw the gold tub RC10 and wanted it so bad but it never happened!
AW: When did you decide to start taking racing more seriously, traveling to larger races and acquiring sponsors?
PC: Around 1995-1998 I did a little bit of racing here and there, some 2wd stock buggy and some carpet and concrete oval. It was not until 2001 when I got my first 1/12-scale car that I got serious and it’s been 100% full go since then! My first big race was the Snowbirds in 2002.
AW: Can you tell us about your background in slot car racing?
PC: When I was 16, a buddy of mine and I were at the local motocross track. After we got done, we were packing up and he said, “Hey, what are you doing later? I'm going down to the slot car track that just opened up in Fishkill. Want to go check it out?” At first I said, “What? You mean those little Tyco cars?” He said, “No, they are much bigger than that. Come on down and check it out!” So a couple of hours later I went down there and was amazed! The cars were going around 30-40 mph on a 135 foot track and they were literally on rails! He asked if I wanted to try it - well, of course I did! I grabbed a handful and sent it straight into the wall! I was hooked. I think I went there everyday for the next three months. Needless to say, motocross took a little step aside and I started seriously getting into racing slot cars. I managed to get pretty good at slots in a very short amount of time. Where we raced there were many national champions and I got to learn the right way to do things from the start so it made my learning curve so much shorter than it could have been had I had to try and figure it out all by myself. In the time I raced, from 1992-2005, I won over 30 national championships and three world championships. It was the one time in my life that I could say I was the best in the world at something and it was pretty cool looking back on it - mainly because I'm not nearly as good at R/C but I'm not going to stop trying!
AW: How does that micro-racing world compare and contrast with RC?
PC: They are very similar. One of the biggest things they have in common is throttle control - it is so similar and that's how I picked up R/C so quick. Also, in slots, every .005" makes a difference and everything has to be so precise. It’s a lot like in R/C - if your car is not built properly, or you don't maintain it well, it’s not going to work to as well as it should. One thing that has helped me in R/C is probably having a better-tuned and built car than most of my competitors. It goes such a long way toward finishing races and making your job on the track so much easier.
AW: When did you decide to pursue a career in the RC car industry?
PC: Back when I was racing slot cars I got a job working at Parma International. They made slot cars and R/C cars and parts. Just before I started racing 1/12-scale seriously I got back into motocross, and since I had a good job and some money I was able to race slot cars and motocross too. Then the inevitable struck: within a 12-month period I was in a cast, wheelchair, sling or crutches after getting hurt racing motocross and I missed a lot of work or had to work hurt. My boss Steve Koepp said, “Why don't you give that up and we will buy you a 12th scale car?” I had about enough and that's basically how it all started. I haven't ridden since then. Motocross was so fun but as everyone knows it’s not "if,” it’s "when" are you going to get hurt.
Photo: Aaron Buran, via Facebook
AW: What kind of jobs have you had within RC?
PC: I worked for Parma International for 14 years, I’ve been at Serpent America for the last six, and for a couple of years I had my own 1/12-scale company called On-Point Racing.
AW: Can you describe your current position at Serpent America?
PC: Mainly I'm in sales. I sell to hobby shops and online shops, I serve as the team manager, and I help out with customer service.
Photo: Stupid Fast Slot Car Racing, via Facebook
AW: What are your proudest career accomplishments so far?
PC: For R/C, I'd say winning A2 of the 2006 Carpet Nats in 1/12-Scale Modified, my two Super Stock 1/12-Scale wins at the US Indoor Champs, winning the Great Lakes Challenge in 1/8-Scale On Road, and making the B-Main in 4WD Modified at the 2016 CRCRC Midwest Winter Champs. It’s not a lot, but I get one in here and there to keep me motivated!
AW: When you’re not at the office, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
PC: As a family we like to go camping. I love golf but haven't played in a while, and watching motocross.
AW: What’s the best part of working in the RC industry? What about the industry annoys or bothers you?
PC: The best part of working in the industry is helping people so they have as much fun as I do! I can talk cars all day with anyone - it’s a blast! The worst part is all the brand hoppers. It seems like no one can commit to anything these days!
Photo: Seth Williams, via Facebook
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
PC: I would say Billy Easton, Josh Cyrul, Keven Hebert and Mike Pulfer with car knowledge. For skill at my job, Steve Koepp, Mike MacDowell, Joaquin Desoto. I'm sure I'm leaving some out and I apologize. There are just so many people who have helped me get to where I am.
AW: What advice would you give someone looking to work in RC?
PC: Always present yourself in a professional manner. You have to be a likable person or no one will want to hire you. If you are sponsored, talk to the companies you race for and see if there are any job openings. It’s ok to start at the bottom and work your way up!
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PC: If anyone has any questions about Serpent, Picco, Arrowmax or Sanwa send me an email anytime!
Photo: Eric Schneeweis, via Facebook