TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Blake Pickett
Tuesday, Sep 5, 2017 06:57am
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!
Blake Pickett made the transition from “one of the fastest off-road racers in the Southeast” to “one of the fastest racer’s in the entire country” this past June, when he raced his way into the ROAR Nationals final in Indiana. The 11th-place finish was not only by far a career-best, but secured an automatic ticket to the 2018 IFMAR Worlds in Australia. The road to such success passed quickly for Pickett, who has been racing for less than a decade following his decision to step away from racing dirt bikes, and something he hopes to continue pursuing in a quest for the industry’s ultimate honor.
Photo: JConcepts, via Facebook
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Blake Pickett: Hey Aaron, thanks for having me on. I am 19 years old. from Siler City, NC.
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
BP: Well, I raced motocross on a national level for almost 7 years. We lived and breathed motocross and worked hard at it. I was fortunate enough to qualify for Loretta Lynn’s (editor’s note: the American Motorcyclist Association Amateur National Championships are held at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Tennessee) six times. I was at the point where I needed to be at all of the nationals to get noticed and get factory support. My dad and I were at Lake Whitney for the Spring Classic. I witnessed a fellow competitor and friend lose his life on the first lap of his last moto. You hear about things like that happening, but not until I witnessed it, did it hit me in its entirety. As soon as we got home we visited our local hobby shop and fell in love with 1/8-scale racing. My first car was a Losi 8IGHT 2.0 RTR. It has been about 6 years now, and I'm loving it!
AW: What do you do for work? Does your job make it difficult to attend racing events?
BP: I have started my own landscaping business for spring and summer. During the fall, I work for a local poultry farmer and manage three houses. I'm fully in charge of the house operations and growth of 60,000 birds. I also attend community college with a full schedule, studying Business Management and Marketing. Being self-employed does allow me to manage my time and still race but it wouldn't be possible without the support of my family who jump in to help when I'm out of town.
AW: What made you decide to start attending big races and trying to attract sponsors?
BP: When I was young and racing motocross, my parents taught me to work hard and try to be the best I could be. We would often drive long hours to attend racing events where the fastest racers were. We knew that racing with the best would only make me better. I try to do the same with RC. I always choose the race where the greatest competition is. Everyone wants to win or be on the podium but racing against the best guys in the world teaches you so much more. To this day it’s an amazing feeling to share the drivers stand with known drivers who have made it, and have achieved both national and world titles.
AW: What’s your favorite track? Favorite big event? What different classes have you raced - and which is your favorite?
BP: My favorite track is the Dirt Nitro Challenge layout this year. It was super challenging and had a nice flow. My favorite event to date is the Nitro Challenge. I have raced 1/8-scale buggy and truck. I recently added 2WD mod buggy. Even though I enjoy them all, nothing beats 1/8-scale nitro buggy.
AW: Having traveled around the country to different events, how does the racing scene in your area vary from other places you’ve visited?
BP: The racing scene at home is very laid back. Everybody knows everybody, and we all have a good time. It’s a family atmosphere and, for me, that seems to carry into the big events. Even though there are more people and the stakes are higher, we always seem to have a great time.
Photo: CarolinaRC.net, via Facebook
AW: What are your proudest RC moments?
BP: One of my proudest moments would have to be last year at Wicked Weekend. I battled in the front the whole time and, after a pit lane flame out from Cole Ogden, I found myself in the lead. I led most of the second half and battled with Cole for the final two laps before finishing less than 2 seconds back. Also, this year’s performance at the ROAR Nats; I qualified straight to the semi and secured the final transfer spot for the A final. I couldn't be prouder to represent all my sponsors at the IFMAR Worlds in 2018.
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career?
BP: I would like to keep traveling and become a better driver. I know I have a ways to go before becoming a world champion but it’s definitely something I would like to work toward in the coming years. Having a career in the RC industry would be great. For now, I plan to work my way to the top of the podium.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
BP: When I'm not at the track I like to go to the gym and hang out with my friends. I enjoy all kinds of racing so our family hangs out at local circle tracks as well. We also spend lots of time at the lake camping and wakeboarding.
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
BP: The best part is coming off the drivers stand after a really good race. It's a great feeling of accomplishment to finish a long nitro race and do well. There is so much work that goes into a final. It’s great to see friends and family waiting to congratulate you.
What annoys me is when people completely lose their composure. I have seen a lot of yelling, screaming, cussing and even fighting on occasion. It’s disappointing that is has to come to that for some.
Photo: JConcepts, via Facebook
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
BP: There are so many people and companies that have helped me. My parents have played a huge part in my racing program and I can’t thank them enough. I'd like to thank Greg McElreath at the former McHobbies. He was the first guy to advocate for me and an integral part of my first sponsorships with Team Losi Racing and Horizon Hobby. Currently, my biggest advocate — besides my dad, of course — is Colby Purdy. We often travel together, and many times he sacrifices his own racing to help me be successful; you just don't find people like that much anymore. Over the years I have worked into the best equipment and teams available. I owe a big thanks to Brandon Melton, Richard Saxton, and Brent Thielke with Team Associated; Alex Pilson and Mario Rossi with REDS Engines; and Jason Ruona with JConcepts. Prevail Paints and Ahlsome Design Concepts always keep my cars looking awesome. It’s necessary to have great products and support to make those podiums.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
BP: I really appreciate you having me. I would also like to thank Dave Leikam with RaceTime Entertainment and Lance McDonald for putting on great events on the East Coast that attract the world’s best racers making so much possible with RC.
Photo: RaceTime Entertainment, via Facebook