TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Carrah Tompkins
Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016 07:56pm
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!
Carrah Tompkins might not be a household name in the sense of a traditional RC racer, but with nearly 5,000 Facebook friends and 1,000 additional followers she’s among one of the most popular drivers on social media. After establishing herself as a staple of the SoCal racing scene over the last few years, she decided to focus her passion for all things motor sports - and graphic design education from UCLA - with a new apparel line called Because Racecar. I reached out to Carrah to learn more about her racing career, and her new brand, for this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Carrah Tompkins: I stopped keeping track of my age after 22. ;) I am from Calabasas, CA.
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
CT: One of my older brothers actually got me into RC racing. He started going to the track and racing with one of his friends. I found out that he was going and I wanted to check it out as soon as I heard. I showed up at SCVRC when he was practicing and I drove his short course truck and instantly fell in love with it. I bought my short course truck the following week, raced the day I got it, and I have been racing ever since. So I have been racing since July 2013.
AW: When would you say you started to embrace being a member of the RC community?
CT: I started to embrace the RC community when I started to do the bigger series races and started traveling to other tracks and meeting more and more people. My brother stopped racing so I had to start practicing and going to tracks by myself and then I started making track friends. That was about 6 months after I picked up a radio.
AW: Is it difficult being a female racer in a male-dominated industry?
CT: Difficult? No, but definitely interesting. ;) For the most part, everyone in the RC industry has been super helpful and accepting and it has made RC racing even more fun. If anything has been difficult, it would be the pressure I put on myself to keep up with the guys, and prove that girls can be just as fast.
AW: What prompted you to start “Because Racecar?” Did your graphic design background play a role?
CT: Well since the RC world is so male-dominated, a lot of RC companies don't provide very many girl shirts and I'm into fashion, so I wanted options. I started to look into different ideas, and since I'm a graphic designer I thought, "I should just design my own." I started with sponsor shirts and a hoodie for myself to wear to the track and then I hoped that other people would be interested in it too.
AW: What do you currently do for work? Is it difficult finding time to commit to practicing and racing, and now managing your own company?
CT: I currently work full-time as a graphic designer for a company, and in my free time, I manage Because Racecar as well as PassionForPixelsDesign.com, which is my design studio. As both businesses are starting to take off, the most difficult thing is finding time to practice and race, between designing logos, flyers, websites, and the next t-shirt or accessory. It’s so hard to balance it all out. Most people don’t realize how much time it actually takes to start a business. But my goal is to have my weekends cleared for racing. It keeps me sane.
AW: What has been the most difficult part of starting your own apparel brand?
CT: The most difficult part of starting an apparel brand is making sure you find quality items that your customer is going to be happy with. From getting samples, finding suppliers, and making sure everything is high quality to finding the colors, sizes, style of shirts, or how well does the material print on, there is so much to take into account. Then, you also have to worry about marketing, maintaining a website, accounting, shipping and packaging, etc. just to make sure that the customer gets what they deserve.
AW: Do you come up with all of your own items, or do you get input from other racers?
CT: Both. I have come up with a lot of my own items but I have definitely gotten input from other racers. I have a ton of ideas that are still releasing but I like to get feedback and input from the customer. I want to create apparel that people actually want and that they will wear. It is also fun to see what people come up with.
AW: What’s your favorite track? What about your favorite racing class?
CT: My favorite track is definitely OCRC and fortunately, I get to have that as my home track. But also a shoutout to SCVRC too because that's where it all started. The class I race the most often is stock buggy because I love how competitive it is but my favorite class to race is stadium truck. I always have a smile the whole time when I'm racing that class.
AW: What are your most proud RC moments?
CT: I'm always proud of when I win races but I think the most proud RC moments are when I see that I'm improving or I know I put down a run that's my personal best. I may not be the fastest or beating the fastest guys but if I'm putting together a really good run and improving my times then I'm proud of myself.
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career, or for your company?
CT: My goals for my RC career are just to continue improving, I want to travel more to race, and I want to try out 1/8 scale nitro or maybe on-road. My goals for my company are to keep it evolving and expanding. I want to add items that appeal to racers outside of the RC industry. I also would like work with some of the Pro drivers and get some collaborations going. I think that would be fun.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
CT: Pretty much, my life is working or at the track. If I'm not doing either of those, then I'm either at the lake, at another racing-related event, or hanging out with friends.
AW: How do you explain to non-RC friends what you do?
CT: I just tell them I race toy cars ;) I just always try to get my non-RC friends to come to the track to see the racing because it's always cooler when you see it in person.
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
CT: The best part of RC racing is how competitive it is and the people. Being able to hang out with friends while racing makes it really fun. The thing about RC racing that annoys me the most is having to cut out wings. ;)
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
CT: Ahh, this is tough; I really wish I could name everyone who has ever helped me. I get help all the time and it is so appreciated. But first, shoutout to my brother who got me into this hobby and made me wrench on my own stuff from day one. Also, Jake Mayo, pretty much everyone at OCRC, Joe Pillars and Kyosho teammates, and the list goes on.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CT: I'd just like to thank my sponsors, Kyosho, Pro-Line Racing, Schelle Racing Innovations, EZ Customs, and JL Engineering. A huge, thank you to everyone who has supported, liked, commented, shared, or purchased anything from Because Racecar. All of it means so much to me. Also, thanks to LiveRC for this interview!
I currently have a giveaway going on that LiveRC readers can enter before it ends. It's for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Because Racecar apparel. The fb giveaway is available at www.facebook.com/bczracecar and another giveaway at www.instagram.com/_bczracecar