By Thomas Tran
Let's be honest here, I've been a long time fan of Ryan Maifield since I made my return to the RC world in 2009. Call it fanboy, call it looking up to a living legend, or just mad respect b/c he wheels an RC car like no other. There's a certain kind aura RM possesses that is unmistakably, 'Maifield.' After years of following his races and watching him wheel it at Worlds, Nationals (from my computer of course)... I finally had the pleasure of shaking hands with the man in 2014 at the JConcepts Summer Indoor Nationals in Chico, California. He had just made argubaly the biggest switch in RC history by leaving AE/Reedy to join forces with TLR and Orion.
I didn't want to bug the guy since he was debuting 3 new cars, had 2 new team managers around him, and was of course trying his best to make a statement that switching was the right career move. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I went up and introduced myself and shook his hand and told him I respected his driving style and wished him best of luck in the mains. To my surprise, the 'bad boy' image sort of gave way as he was more approachable than his appearance led to be. He was quite friendly and professional. On Sunday, the guy woke up, swept 3 classes like a boss, and I guess that what makes him so special.
So our first encounter was brief and more than likely, Ryan probably didn't remember who I was since I'm sure he meets a ton of people at every race he goes to. However, our 2nd encounter was a lot different. Almost exactly one year ago, I was invited along to do the media coverage for JConcepts' INS in place of RedRC because of a schedule conflict. An opportunity was presented and I took it without hesitation. I was treated like royalty as I was traveling around with Jason Ruona and his team which included, Ryan Maifield, xWC Steven Hartson, WC Spencer Rivkin, and AE/JC's young gun Daimon Borkowicz. From the airport straight to the rental van, we 'tetris' all the gear in the back of the van and headed to the track to set up pits. With Maifield behind the wheel, he started making jokes and telling stories and the next thing we knew the entire van was busting up with laughter. Everyone was laughing and it was non-stop contagious. I never knew this guy was so funny since his demanor at the track is quite serious. He wants to win and no one can blame him for that.
Thomas Tran: Hey Ryan, it's good chatting with you again. How are you this fine Tuesday? It looks like you had a killer weekend in Omaha, Nebraska at JConcepts' INS Finale race.... could you give us your perspective about the track, grip level, tires and layout? Did it suit your driving style and car?
Ryan Maifield: Thanks for the interview Thomas. I'm doing fine just getting ready for some up coming races. Yeah my weekend at the Jconcepts INS finals went really well. I didn't race enough races to contend for the over all championships, but it was really good practice for the up coming 2016 Roar 1/10th Nationals. The Hobbytown Hobby Plex is a awesome facility so it's always fun to visit. The track this year had awesome traction and was extremely consistent. The layout was smooth and flowing and made racing fun, but technical at the same time.
TT: Let's jump in and talk about what everyone wants to talk about.... your new 2wd! This was your first race with the TLR 22 3.0 since it's official release just last Friday, how was it?
RM: Yeah TLR just released its latest addition to there product line, the 22 3.0. Myself and everyone at TLR/ Horizon Hobby have put a lot of time and effort into this project trying to make it the best possible product for our customers. I think the car will suit anyone's driving level or class they choose to compete in. This weekend was my first time competitively racing the 22 3.0, it took me a few runs to figure out what the car wanted suspension wise but after I found the right balance of steering vs rear grip the car was awesome! I'm excited to get to some other tracks to really see what she can do.
TT: What are some of the differences you felt when driving the 3.0 vs 2.0?
RM: the 22 2.0 was already a awesome car with a great base to work from, with the latest trend of the 2wd class being mid motor we knew we needed to develop a specific mid motor 2wd. The 22 2.0 was able to be ran in mid motor configuration but the car was more developed towards a rear motor configuration. After racing the 22 2.0 in mid motor form, we realized its strengths and weaknesses and took that information and put together a package that I/we think is the best all around mid motor specific 2wd buggy on the market. As far as the different driving characteristics they are completely different animals and you really need to drive one to get the full picture.
TT: It looked like you had a little tough time in qualifying in 2wd with a 4th place start, did you make any changes to the car or mentally going into Sunday to get you A1 and A2 wins?
RM: Yeah qualifying didn't exactly go smoothly. I didn't really know where I stacked up after practice and I was still searching for the "perfect" setup going into qualifying. After the 2nd round I had a handle on what the car was needing so I made a few changes and went into round 3 confident. Round 3 of qualifying was going really good but I made a driving error at the end of the run and literally hit the garage door off the side of the track. If I could have held it together I would have tq'ed that round and started 2nd for the mains. After round three, I knew I had a fast car and just needed to get good starts in the mains to stay with the lead pack, I never expected to win A1 and A2, but the car was better then I thought and it worked out. Everytime I hit the track I was getting more and more comfortable with the car so I'm excited for this year.
TT: It seems like the cream always rises to the top and once again it was the Ryan and Ryan show, especially in A2... Did you think it would come down to another classic showdown between Cavalieri and you for the win? What do you think gave you the edge for the win over your toughest rival?
RM: Anytime 4 of the fastest guys are at the same track you are gonna see a showdown. It seems like Ryan and I are always the ones battling but truth is we all battle each other every week. I enjoy racing with Ryan because he is a clean driver and a smart driver and I'm sure we have plenty more battles together in our future. I think I had the edge because I was able to follow the pace he was setting in the early stages of the race and wait for a mistake to come. He made a couple small mistakes and I was able to get by and maintain the lead.
TT: Also let's not forget about 4wd... congrats on a dominating weekend with the 22-4 by TQ'ing and winning A2 and A3. How was your 4wd? It seems to eat up clay tracks like Omaha for breakfast.
RM: Absolutely, the 22-4 loves clay for some reason, the car is always fast and easy to drive on clay surfaces and it makes it a ton of fun to race 4wd mod. My car was awesome all weekend, I made some small changes from my normal setup and she was dialed in all weekend long. Spencer Rivkin, my Jconcepts teammate, was super fast in 4wd and it was a ton of fun racing against him. He is the real deal and has a bright future in this industry.
TT: So the year is winding down, the indoor off-road season just ramping up... What's next on the plate for you Ryan?
RM: Well my work is never done. I have a few test sessions I have scheduled and few smaller 1/8th events I will be attending before the years over and then once January starts..... its all about focusing on the Reedy Race and the Dirt Nitro Challenge.
TT: Once again, fabulous job last weeked and thank you so much for taking the time. We apprciate it, your fans apprciate it, you're a straight up legend. Any last words or thank yous?
RM: No problem thank you for having me, I want to thank all my sponsors with out them I wouldn't be able to do what I love. I'll see y'all at the races. Thanks.