I finally had a chance
to set down for a chat with Ryan Lutz the RC Pro International Buggy & Arena
Truck Champion for 2008. As I always do I try to take a different approach to
these interviews than the standard. It helps that I see these racers at numerous
events over a period of years and have gotten to know most of them pretty well
so I aim for more of a conversation than prim and proper interview. I hope you
enjoy the first one from our 2008 Champions.
RC Pro: Ryan how long have you been into RC?
Ryan: I have been racing R/C
cars sense the age of 7. So that would be about 17 years!~
RC Pro: Who got you started?
Ryan: My dad got me started.
He had already been in the hobby for probably 10 years and he owned a hobby shop
in our town. So it was only natural for me to look up to my father and do what
he was doing!!
RC Pro:What was your 1st car?
Ryan: My first race car was a
Losi Jr. T
RC Pro: Do you remember your
Ryan: Nope. I have a bad
memory and that was too long ago!
RC Pro: LOL! I know the 1st
time I met you and saw you drive was at CRCRC in an RC Pro race in 2005.
Everyone kept asking the same question who is this guy and where did he come
from! Do you remember that event?
Ryan: I do remember that
event. I also remember a lot of people not liking me at that event!! But funny
thing is, is that all of those people that I had a less than positive experience
at that event with have all actually turned out to be some of my best friends in
RC Pro: I can explain part of
that. You were extremely fast and no one knew you. That had a lot to do with it.
Also you were so fast you tended to run into people because you closed on them
so fast. I think also in one section where they used the brakes you just used
Ryan: LOL...that about sums it
up. That section after the straight away and the banked turn was a tiny 'double
double' or in my case a quad. It made about 1.5 seconds a lap faster thru that
but it also got me into the rear end of other drivers quite often on such a
RC Pro: Exactly! I think that
was the only time I ever had to consider warning you.
Ryan: I actually remember
getting a stop and go in the main! The announcer was all over me! Haha
RC Pro: I wasn't going to
mention that.... but the stop and go came from me.
Ryan: HAHA....it was deserved
in a way...I know I was running into people, but it just came with the line I
was taking and the fact that before that event I had no experience running with
people my own speed. My local club races only had around 4 1/8th buggies so I
never had practice running with people.
RC Pro: Yea seems like 2005
was the start for a lot of things for you?
Ryan: Yes, I just got back
from College and I learned of the R/C Pro Series and I have always wanted to do
bigger R/C events. So I went to each of them that year and it turned out to be
the turning point in my R/C career!
RC Pro: I remember the stir
you caused at the 2005 RC Pro Final when you TQed Arena Truck.
Ryan: haha...That was fun! :-)
RC Pro: I understand Kyosho
contacted you after that?
Ryan: Yes, in January of 06,
on my 21st birthday they contacted me and offered me a deal that I couldn't in
my wildest dreams have dreamed of!
RC Pro: That related to a move
to Cali. How much of a change was that from living and going to school in Ohio?
Ryan: Actually the move to
California didn't come until later. The story on that was that I had been racing
for Kyosho for 5 months and they asked me to go to an event at the Farm2. I told
them I wasn't able to go due to already haven taken to many days off from work.
Joel Johnson was the person I was talking to and he jokingly said, "well, if you
come work for us you can have all the time off you need to go race!" I said
"well that would be okay!" he asked if I was serious and I said yes! So a month
later in July I moved out to California to begin working for Kyosho America as
the Team Manager among other duties!
California was a change yes, but I
adapt really easily so it wasn't a huge adjustment for me. I just blended in as
best I could and began enjoying the opportunity to race more and advance my
RC Pro: I hadn't heard the
full story on that before!
During the time at Kyosho you seemed to have fit into the team and everyone
worked together very well at the events I was at.
Ryan: Yes, I was extremely
proud of the team we built at Kyosho! I felt we had the most approachable and
best team out there! We worked very well together and everyone got along!
RC Pro: I know it had to be a
tough decision and very unexpected for a lot of us when you announced the move
Ryan: Yes, it was an extremely
tough decision and it was pretty sudden for me as well. I just got to a point
however where I felt stuck in what I was doing and it wasn't 100% what I wanted
to be doing. I really wanted to race more and practice more and be out in the
field! That is where my true passion is! Now with Tamiya, that is becoming a
reality and I am enjoying every moment of it!!
RC Pro: I know you haven't
been at Tamiya very long but can you give us some inside on some of the things
you have been working on?
Ryan: Currently I have just
been busy going out and getting acclimated to the vehicles. I first got the
801Xt, which is Tamiya's Arena Truck. I was out practicing with that as much as
possible and attended the CRCRC event in Columbus Ohio and placed a respectable
4th with it in my first race. Sinse my return from that event I have been out at
Revelation Raceway testing the new Prototype Buggy! At the moment those two
things have consumed all of my time!
RC Pro: Yes I saw some pics of
the buggy today that were taken at the Nurnberg Toy Fair. What's you impression
Ryan: So far I am extremely
impressed! I am very pleased with how the buggy handles and can't wait to race
it against the big boys at upcoming events! I think Tamiya built a contender on
their first try and I'm pleased to be the one who gets to prove it!
RC Pro: What will be your next
event you might be running the buggy at?
Ryan: I will be attending the
Psycho Nitro Blast this upcoming weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. This event will be
followed closely by the Dirt Nitro Challenge in Arizona!
RC Pro: I'm betting there will
be a nice flow of people by your pit table to see the buggy and arena truck!
Ryan: I would hope so and I'm
excited to be able to show them what Tamiya has to offer and answer any
questions they may have!
RC Pro: I do have to commend
you for the way you deal with the public at these events. I've never seen you
lose patience or not answer every question you were asked. That is the way a Pro
driver should be since he is the representative for the company.
Ryan: First off Thank you very
much for that! It's gratifying to know that people take notice in that. Also I
believe in exactly what you said 100%. It is as important as the racing itself.
I also just really enjoy helping others and my favorite is when you can help
someone and see the smile on their face after there next race when everything
goes better for them!!
RC Pro: I'm sure at this point
most people have figured out we've known each other for a number of years! LOL
As RC Pro I try to get some of the Pro's to certain events in areas that have
not seen them before and last year you went to the race in Puerto Rico and this
year you will be attending the race in Australia.
Ryan: Yes, this is correct!
I love getting the opportunity to
travel to new locations and to showcase my talent to anyone who wants to see!
I think of myself as not only a
driver and representative for my company but I also like to think of myself as
an entertainer! I like to get the crowd into the racing more and to do things
that other drivers may not do. My driving style for instance is a little
unorthodox but when I know I have the opportunity I like to do some extra
drifting or bank off of walls, or if I win an event I like to find a jump to do
a backflip off of! Makes for good fun for me and all the spectators!!
RC Pro: Yes you do have an
unorthodox style! I remember your drifting slide off the back straight lap after
lap at the finals this year as well as a backflip!
Ryan: Exactly!! And it's so
RC Pro: I know your career has
been a steady rise but are there any things in the future you would like to
Ryan: Well I certainly hope
that I have not reached my peak as far as competition racing! I still have goals
to win as many events as possible and especially an IFMAR Worlds win would be on
that list! I would also like to help grow this hobby and make it more
mainstream! Getting it in front of the eyes of the public will be an ongoing
thought process for me and I plan on doing as many out of industry events with
the r/c vehicles as possible!
RC Pro: I saw the announcement
about the Toyota Grand Prix will you be attending that event?
Ryan: I'm not sure yet. If I
am not at a race somewhere then I totally want to be able to go and promote at
RC Pro: We have done something
similar and the reaction from the spectators is great! I wish we could do more
to get the offroad stuff in front of more spectators.
Ryan: Yes, I agree! I know the
manufacturers cup has helped a lot in that! I mean 5,000 spectators or so last
year watching us race was a sight to behold! Also Brandon Rohde and LiveRC have
produced a TV quality DVD from the IFMAR worlds! It's coming, the pieces are
starting to fall together and it's just a matter of time. We need to get into
the X-games too!!
RC Pro: We have had
discussions with supercross to try and setup events in conjunction but the big
issue is the money they want for doing it But yes bigger things are coming.
Ryan: Yes, unfortunately money
is a big part of it all! Maybe I will win the lottery someday and I can help
change all of that! Haha
RC Pro: LOL I wish someone
RC Pro: Okay let's change
we all know about Tamiya but what
other sponsor are you representing now?
Ryan: This year so far I am
representing OS Engines, KO Propo, AKA tires, Advantage Racing Bearings,
Ballistic Batteries, Pyrographix Paints.
RC Pro: If you get anymore
sponsors your going to need to supply oxygen for us older race announcers during
Ryan: HAHA...There may be 2 or
3 more by the end of the year! lol...just so you can be prepared and all!
RC Pro: LOL
Okay for a lot of guys out there.
Let's say OS Engines how many engines
would you normally go through in a year?
Ryan: Well this year I will be
running more then ever, by a long shot! I already put 3 gallons on my 2 cars
last week alone! It's really hard to quantify, but I'm sure I will expect to get
7-10 gallons out of my engines before I do a rebuild!
RC Pro: Kind of shoots down
the theory of sponsored guys using a new motor every event huh?
Ryan: Yea, but who knows what
some of the other guys do! I will be taking my freshest motor to the "Big"
events though. There are also those big events like Nationals and Worlds and
other top events where we are sure to take new motors too. It is way more
important to our sponsors that we do well and get good results than to have
something go bad on us because we overlooked it or it was on the older side or
what have you!
RC Pro: True!
I remember in the past this kid
getting everything he could out of his tires to the point of rarely running new
ones. I imagine things are different now?
Ryan: Yes, things are
different now! haha, people ask where my drift driving style came from and I say
it was from running 1 set of Kyosho Hard X tires for an entire year! LOL, When
you don't have the funds you make do with what you have! But yes, now with AKA
tires I am able to "keep up with the Joneses" and run new tires when appropriate
to get the top result that my sponsors expect!
RC Pro: Funny story about
you.... I remember a remark by a fellow racer at the 2005 RC Pro Finals just
after you Tqed. The comment after looking at your truck and tires was "how does
he drive that thing?" I think you had 2 different tread designs on the truck.
Ryan: LOL...I don't even
remember but it definitely is not out of the realm of possibility. I remember
many times last year where with my Panther tires I would mix up the compounds,
most of the time on accident and I remember having 2 or 3 events where I had 3
softs and 1 MS or visa versa!
RC Pro: That's not a surprise!
I think we have covered a wide range
of things but is there anything you want to discuss or mention?
Ryan: I just want to thank
everyone who has been a part of making me who I am in this Hobby! Everyone from
My dad whom I would not be doing this at all without his getting me into it! To
Dave Kingston for being instrumental in getting me my first big breaks into the
industry. To Kyosho for giving me my first job and travel opportunities, all the
way to Tamiya for now allowing me to do what I've always dreamed of! Also thanks
to you Carlton for your involvement with R/C Pro and giving us racers an
excellent series to race and compete!
RC Pro: Thanks Ryan! I've had
a blast watching you in the past and look forward to many more events in the
Ryan: Oh I plan on many more
events and a Lot more fun!
RC Pro: What do you think of a
back to back International Finals Championship this year?
Ryan: That would be a dream
come true! I am for sure setting that as a goal of mine and I hope to make it
RC Pro: Good luck! I have a
feeling a couple people may look at preventing that this year.
But that's what makes it fun right?
Ryan: I truly hope they do,
more competition just makes it more fun! Exactly!
RC Pro: Ryan thanks again and
I guess I need to let you get back to work.
Ryan: Thank you very much for
this opportunity! I look forward to doing it again in the future!