By Aaron Waldron
On Thursday afternoon I called Fred Medel - the marketing manager for Tamiya America - to ask him about what’s going with the company’s racing team and plans for the future. Fred pointed out that Tamiya headquarters in Japan, the company’s main office that controls the international TRF (Tamiya Racing Factory) squad, hasn’t yet issued a formal statement, and that three-time ISTC World Champion Marc Rheinard spoke on his own behalf at the Euro Touring Series opener in the Czech Republic last weekend.
“I can only speak for U.S. activities, but our racing efforts are going to be very different next year,” said Medel, “and we’re going in a different direction in terms of supporting racers. Tamiya Inc. will soon have specifics on how they, too, will approach the new year.”
“Tamiya is not a racing company,” said Medel, “Tamiya is a hobby company that makes some race cars, and what we learn from racing trickles down into other genres.” He also made it clear that this sort of top-down development will continue in 2017 and beyond. “We will still make race cars - there will still be TRF kits and TRF hop-ups. The engineers are still there, and we still have qualified drivers (in Japan) to test new products.” It’s how those products are marketed that will change. Fred said, ”Supporting a global factory team in the fashion that currently exists is no longer necessary for our long term goals.”
That’s not to say that Tamiya won’t be represented at the racetrack any longer, either. According to Fred, each international Tamiya agent company will determine how to manage their own teams to promote TRF products. Tamiya Japan will provide the equipment for each agent to sponsor up to two drivers, and beyond that it’s up to each office.
Medel seemed most eager to talk about that last part. He said, “We’re going to have cars for people to drive and race and have fun, and provide them with the support they need. That support comes in many forms: kit and parts availability, set up advice, and friendly ambassadors around the country that are eager to approach customers to educate them on our products.”