By Mike Garrison
Long-time racer and owner of Dialed Hobbies, Gene Hickerson, has announced in a Facebook post that he has stepped down as SOAR Racing USA team manager for 2018. Nate Johnston, formerly a Midwest rep, has now taken over the national team manager position.
Facebook post from Gene Hickerson:
"2018 is now here, so I would like to take a minute to thank all of my sponsors from 2017 for their support in my racing ventures, reflect on past years, and make a few important announcements to my team drivers and supporters.
EZ Customs has been a long time supporter and always keeps my buggies looking Dialed with the best custom painted bodies, so check them out if you want a sick paint job on your ride. @ezcustomspainting.
NitroPro Racing Fuel has been another long time sponsor. I don't have to say anything about how good the fuel is because everyone can see all the top drivers who use it and the podiums and wins at every race across the country. Power, mileage, and reliability from gallon to gallon is the reason I run NitroPro Fuel. @NitroProFuel.
SOAR Seiki has been my chassis sponsor for the last 1.5 years and has helped me get back on pace. I feel faster then I have in years and have won more races in the last 16 months then I have in the last 7 years, mostly in the 40+ class since I am about to turn 44 now. There has been some ups and downs but the buggy keeps getting better, and the new TD1-R is leaps and bound better then the 2017 TD1 version. @SOARRacingUSA.
Last but not least is my main sponsor, Dialed-RC Hobbies. I quit a great paying job 13 years ago to start my own RC business. My thought was that working in the R/C industry would allow me more time to race and travel the world and continue to advance my racing career, all while doing what I love for a living. Unfortunately that did not all work out as planned because what I quickly learned was that running a company takes tons of time and work with not much return in investment. I also started a family and now have 2 amazing daughters and the best wife anyone could have because of her 100% support in everything I do. With all the responsibilities of a family and a business to manage, racing took a back seat and became #3 on my priority list. Unfortunately I have never been able to put the effort I used to and wanted to into my racing, testing, and preparation. My results have suffered ever since but I am lucky enough to still be competitive and still enjoy racing.
Although I have loved working in the RC business for the last 13 years, the stress to perform at the races and sell more during the week has taken a toll on me and my health because I do not want to let my imported brands and sponsors down, nor my family. So after 31 years of racing RC and more then 20 years of being a pro sponsored driver, I need to reduce my work load, so I am stepping down as SOAR Racing USA Team Manager and factory driver to reduce my work load and stress levels so that I can work on my health issues and spend more time with my family. I have appointed Midwest Rep Nate Johnston as the new SOAR Racing USA Team Manager. He will take over all my manager responsibilities effective immediately. I am not retiring yet, but I am going to just race locally from now on and try to race just for fun like I did back in the 80's and 90's before I became a "sponsored" driver. I will still be running Dialed-RC Hobbies and continue to offer high quality RC racing parts and accessories at the lowest possible prices.
Special thanks to the brands I sell and run myself: James Racing Tires, SRT Servos, 6MIK Racing, Thunder Innovation, VP-Pro, Vision Racing Products, and also all my past sponsors and supporters over the last 31 years. I also want to say how much I have enjoyed meeting RC racers all over the world. We are a tight nit community and all have a connection because we all have the same passion for RC Racing. I have been lucky enough to be able to race in 5 different countries, compete in 3 IFMAR Wold Championships, and win 2 National Championships, so I still have achieved just about everything I have ever wanted too except be a World Champion. Not bad for a semi-pro driver born and raised in Michigan, racing on a shoestring budget.
Hope to see you at the race track for some good ol' fashion fun soon!"