TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Ilias Arkoudaris
Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016 04:56pm
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!
Few RC racing fans around the world may be able to pronounce Ilias Arkoudaris’ name, but many have seen his face and his work - he’s been working in the RC industry for nearly a decade. The glamorously-bearded Greek, who describes himself as “an average racer,” joined Tekno RC in September to help steer the thriving SoCal-based brand through the European market and manage its international team of drivers. Ilias graciously sat down to return a Talk It Up Tuesday interview to give our readers insight into his RC career, what he thinks about the industry, and more.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Ilias Arkoudaris: I’m 34 years old and I am from Athens, Greece.
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
IA: I got into RC after watching some kids driving one in my neighborhood. It was as if I got an electric shock when I first saw it - I just had to get one! I have been racing since 1993, the era of mechanical speed controllers. I still remember my first RC car, a Traxxas Nitro Hawk; I bought it used and it had dyed-pink plastic parts.
AW: When did you first consider pursuing a career in the RC industry?
IA: It all came naturally when I got professionally involved in RC back in 2009. I hadn’t even thought about it since RC was, and still is, tiny in Greece. I can’t think of myself doing anything else ever - being in the RC industry can be tough, but also very rewarding at the same time.
AW: Can you tell us about your current position and responsibilities with Tekno RC? What excited you most about joining a small company that’s growing so quickly?
IA: I am in charge of European sales and the international racing team. Also, I work on marketing efforts together with Matt Wolter. I think Tekno RC is one of the most rapidly growing companies in the industry and of course I am very excited to contribute to this growth. What is the most exciting thing about it is that we can actually see the result of our efforts, which are obvious in most cases.
PHOTO: Circus RC
AW: Does working in the industry make it easier to find time to commit to practicing and racing?
IA: I think it does. Racing and practicing is something that we all do at Tekno RC so taking some time off work to go to a race or turn some laps at the local track is easier than it would have been if I was working in another industry.
PHOTO: RC Car Pictures, via Facebook
AW: How long have you worked in RC? Do you like it?
IA: I have been working in the RC industry since 2009. Before that I worked in an RC shop owned by a friend of mine. I literally enjoy every single minute of it and couldn’t think of a better job to have. I hope I can do it for the rest of my life!
AW: What’s your favorite track? Favorite big event? Favorite racing class?
IA: I would have to say the C-Netic track in Surabaya, Indonesia is my favorite. My favorite event was the 2013 Bitty Design Contest in Pattaya, Thailand. And 1/8-scale nitro off-road is my favorite class, by far!
AW: What is the racing scene like in Greece? How does it compare to other places you’ve visited?
IA: The racing scene in Greece is relatively small, and 1/8-scale buggy is the most popular class. In the last few years the level of Greek drivers has improved drastically, now being able to compete in large international events and get some decent results. I think that the main difference between Greece and other countries I have visited is that RC cars are considered “toys” here rather than an actual sport; this could change, but needs people with will to do it.
PHOTO: RC Car Pictures, via Facebook
AW: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
IA: Any race where our team manages to get some good results and have a good presence makes me proud. Most people see just a group of people running the same car but I see the result of hard work from everyone on our team: from the car designer to the team drivers that believe in our product and support our brand. One of my most recent proud moments was Tekno RC team’s performance at the 2016 6Mik Cup in France.
Our racing team - this is what it is all about!
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career?
IA: My goal is to give 100% into what I am doing all the time. More specifically, I think that having one of the best racing teams on an international level is something we are pursuing and I am sure it will happen very soon…
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
IA: I consider RC to be my only hobby. Other than that, I do enjoy hanging out with friends and having some cocktails!
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
IA: The best thing about racing is the way people feel connected because they share the same passion. I have always thought that meeting someone in person for the first time across the globe and feeling like you know him for years is a magnificent feeling, just because you share the same passion for RC. The way people are divided because they run different brands of cars bothers me a bit; we should all focus on what unites us, rather than what separates us. At least, that’s what I think.
We all enjoy the same thing!
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
IA: Joseph Quagraine has helped me a lot by giving me a chance to work in the industry. The whole team at Tekno RC - Daniel, Matt W, Matt A, Zac and Thomas - has made me feel at home since day one. Last, but not least, I want to thank all the dealers/distributors and team drivers that have supported me so far. At the end of the day, there is no company without them!
AW: Do you have any advice for other racers?
IA: I would advise all racers to have fun. I often see people not having fun while racing. Sure, it can happen, but it is in their hands to change it!
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
IA: Thanks to LiveRC for the interview, see you at the tracks!