TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Michael Schoettler
Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015 06:01pm
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 first met Michael Schoettler at the ROAR Electric Off-Road Nationals last year in Florida, where he finished eighth in Modified Stadium Truck and finished third in the B-Main of 2WD Modified - right behind World Champion Jared Tebo. While that may have been one of the best impressions he has made on a national stage, the nineteen-year-old has become one of the fastest racers in the incredibly competitive Pacific Northwest scene over the last few years - and it's no mistake that he's had help from two of the biggest names ever to come out of his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. A couple of weeks ago, Schoettler again found himself up front in a major event, winning 4WD and finishing second in 2WD at the JConcepts Winter Indoor Nationals in Missouri. I shot Michael a Facebook message to see how he was doing for this week's Talk It Up Tuesday interview.
AW: How did you get started in radio control, and how long have you been racing?
MS: I started with a Traxxas Nitro Rustler, which sat in my garage mostly, but one day my engine would not start and I decided to go to Tacoma R/C Raceway to try and get it fixed. This was what got me started in racing R/C cars because Scott Brown, the owner of Tacoma R/C Raceway, convinced me to buy a RC10B4 rather than fixing my Rustler. I’ve been racing ever since, about 7 years.
AW: When did you decide to take RC racing more seriously?
MS: After club racing one to two times a week for six months, Scott Brown asked me if I would like to go to a race with him in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at Trackside Hobbies. This race was what enlightened me to what R/C is all about.
AW: How long did it take for you to start attracting sponsors?
MS: I don’t remember exactly how long it took to get my first sponsor, but I want to say it took about two years.
AW: You’ve really starting gaining attention over the last year or so. Have you simply been practicing and improving, or did you have a breakthrough?
MS: A little over a year ago I got injured playing tennis when I was living in California. I haven’t been able to train or play since. This has led to me being able to practice racing more and have opportunities to travel to more races.
AW: Are you in school, or working? What’s your dream job?
MS: I am in school right now. My dream job would be playing professional tennis or coaching a professional player.
AW: What’s the best part of living in the Northwest? The worst?
MS: The best part for me is living near all of my family. The worst part would definitely be the weather because I prefer hot weather.
AW: I hear that you’re an incredible tennis player, and quite a golfer as well. Is it difficult juggling three different hobbies? Which are you best at?
MS: Well, since age 6, I just played tennis. I started playing a little golf and racing R/C cars about seven years ago, but those hobbies were just for fun and I mostly did them when I had time between school and tennis. After I got injured playing tennis, R/C cars became a bigger focus along with home school. So I’ve mostly just had one serious sport or hobby at a time.
AW: Is there anything you’re not good at?
MS: Ha! Well, something that doesn’t have to do with a racquet, paddle or hand-eye coordination, then I might not be good at it!
AW: Do you think having other hobbies helps or hurts your focus on racing?
MS: A lot of times people can be a great racer or player, but don’t handle nerves very well in high-pressure situations causing them not to perform to their best abilities. Everyone gets nervous, but it’s how you deal with the nerves. Tennis has helped me learn to deal with nerves better and I believe this has helped me in R/C.
AW: Of what races are you most proud?
MS: Every race is special for one reason or another, but there are two races that I’m most proud of: my second place finish at the 2012 Reedy Race of Champions Open class because that was my first big step forward in a race result, and winning the 2012 Canadian Off-Road Championships in Ottawa, Canada.
AW: How much did it mean to you to win 4WD at this year’s Winter Indoor Nationals?
MS: I am happy to start the year off well and get a good start to the JConcepts Indoor Nationals Series.
AW: Were you disappointed to lose out on the overall in 2WD?
MS: Of course, everyone always wants to win, but I drove the best I could in all three mains and it just wasn’t enough for that weekend.
AW: Are you planning to continue competing at more big events this year?
MS: Yes, I’m not sure what events I am going to this year, but I will attend more.
AW: How do you feel about carpet and astroturf tracks? Have you ever raced on one?
MS: I think racing on different surfaces is just part of racing. I have only run on carpet, not astroturf, but I really enjoyed it!
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most in RC?
MS: Scott Brown has been my mentor and has helped me immensely since I first started racing. Another old-time racer, Chris Bridgewater, has taught me a lot about the car itself. Since Scott has stopped traveling to as many races, Brent Thielke has helped me continue to improve and has given me great support.
AW: What is your favorite track? What about your favorite racing class?
MS: My favorite track is probably Sutton Aviation Raceway in Ottawa, Canada, because the atmosphere is awesome. You pit inside an airplane hanger and race right next to the runway. My favorite class is Stadium Truck because they usually wheelie very well!
AW: What’s your favorite part of RC racing?
MS: I have always enjoyed the competition and the pressure. which RC racing definitely has.
AW: What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
MS: I don’t really dislike anything about RC, it has just been something I have enjoyed doing and I haven’t really had anything that bothers me.
AW: If you could change one thing about the current state of RC racing, what would it be?
MS: I wish RC would get more recognition that it is a real racing sport and it takes a lot of work just like any other racing discipline.
AW: Do you have any big goals for your RC career?
MS: I don’t have any big goals so far. I’m still figuring out what college to go to and what I would like to do in college, so I think that comes first. Then I’ll see what my options are for RC.
AW: Thank you for the interview! Is there anything else you would like to add?
MS: I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to be on Talk It Up Tuesday and thank you to all of the sponsors and people who have helped me: Team Associated, Reedy, JConcepts, Lunsford, MIP, Airtronics, Fusion Graphix and Sick Graphix.