By Mike Garrison
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!
As we continuing counting down the days and weeks to the 2018 ROAR 1/8-scale Fuel Off-Road Nationals, we sit down to with reigning National Buggy Champion Jared Tebo to discuss everything from last year's win and this year's Silver State race to the current state of the industry and his career plans for 2019 and beyond!
LRC: Welcome Jared to Talk It Up Tuesday! The ROAR Fuel Off-Road Nats are just around the corner, and you are heading into the event the reigning 1/8 Nitro Buggy National champ. Does being the reigning champ coming into an event like this provide more positive confidence or more negative pressure to do well?
Jared: Thanks for having me on here Mike! Last year was awesome to win the 1/8 Buggy ROAR National Championship, can’t believe it’s already been a year. For me, there is no added pressure, it’s a new race, at a different track, I don’t feel I have anything to prove.
LRC: Last year proved to be some pretty gnarly conditions with the weather and constantly changing track surface, but obviously they suited you well. What kind of track conditions and layout are you hoping for this year in Florida?
Jared: I really enjoy challenging tracks and difficult conditions, and normally my results reflect that. I think they suit my driving style, and then when other drivers are complaining, it feeds my fire and gets me more excited to race. This year will be much different conditions, as the track will most likely stay smooth. I hope to see a challenging and technical track layout, but either way, I’m excited to get there and race at a facility that I haven’t been to.
LRC: Silver State was another track that provided some rather challenging conditions, in which you were able to overcome for a Pro Truggy Win. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen anything from Kyosho in terms of truggy development, but that hasn’t slowed you down. Have you made any sort of upgrades/updates to your STRR Evo.2 to bring it “up to date”?
Jared: Yeah, the Silver State was awesome, really cool venue and the track was really challenging and super fun to drive in the mains. I was a little surprised to win the Pro Truggy main, but I was fast in that class all weekend. I was really happy with my driving and taking advantage of running up front early in the race. Unfortunately Kyosho hasn’t been able to update the STRR in a very long time, but I’m trying to do my best with what I have. My truck has quite a few modifications, but like I said, I’m doing what I can with the truck I am given to race.
(2013 IFMAR 2wd World Championship)
LRC: Are you excited for this year’s IFMAR World Championships in Australia? Do you feel confident that this could be “your year” for taking home the title?
Jared: I’m really excited for the 1/8 Worlds, that’s a very special race and one that is still on my list of accomplishments that I would LOVE to check off. It’s hard to say if it’s “your” year or not, I’ve been to 8 different 1/8 Worlds and I’ve been a favorite at many of them. 2004 I was leading the semi, and flamed out with a rock with 6 minutes left. 2010 I TQed and really was in the hunt to win, but had a crazy thing happened with a mis marked compound set of tires going on my car for the final. 2012 I was leading the semi and flamed out. 2016 I TQed and thought again I had a great chance, but I didn’t make the best of decisions on the main day and couldn’t hold the pace. That race is very difficult to win … but with that said, I will be doing everything in my power to go to Australia being prepared and ready to leave everything I have on that track. To win that race, you MUST believe that you can win it!
LRC: Zach Rogers is your new team manager at Kyosho, and you two seem to be working well together. I think its safe to say Zach has quickly been learning the ropes of nitro racing, and has done quite well so far?
Jared: I had a great 9 years working with Joe Pillars and we learned a lot together and went through so many stages of life together, it was pretty awesome! 2018 has been a new start, working with Zach, and it’s gone really good, much better than I expected. Nitro racing is so different than 1/10, and Zach was 100% new to 1/8 racing before the year started, which was scary to me. He has done an AMAZING job at learning very fast, listening to my advice, and making himself comfortable. Right now, I am 100% confident in his pitting ability, and we are already building a great team effort, just like Joe and I had. I'm looking forward to the rest of 2018 and hopefully more years working together.
LRC: Talk to us a little bit about life outside the track. How are things going with your brand JTP-RC? Is there anything new in the works that we should be keeping an eye out for?
Jared: JTP is going ok right now, I’m not putting in the time I need to for it to continue the growth it saw in 2017. It’s not doing bad, I’m just not making new products like I need to be making right now. I am actually working on something new, a new brand. It won’t really be a product brand, more of a RC positive brand. Long story short … I really lost my love for RC a few year ago, but I’ve been gaining it back, and right now I’m pretty darn happy in life. There has been a lot of negativity in RC lately, online, at the races, between racers, and I think a positive RC movement is needed and wanted. I want to bring more fun to RC and show how rad RC can really be! That’s all I can really share right now, but I’m planning on launching the brand in the next 2-4 weeks.
LRC: By the looks of your Instagram page (@jared_tebo), you’ve been spending more time riding motocross again. Would you say motocross is your “escape” from the daily grind of being at the top of R/C – much like R/C is for some top motocross racers?
Jared: I really enjoy 2 wheels, anything on two wheels, but I have been riding more motocross. Motocross and MTB are for sure my “escapes”. I’m a big thinker, and it’s hard for me to slow my brain down, so getting out and riding, it takes 100% focus, and allows me to turn off everything else. They also help me stay in shape, and I HATE the gym, so I need to be active.
LRC: You’re not the only one in the Tebo family into racing, as if I’m not mistaken we’ve seen all three of your kids getting more involved in either R/C and/or dirt bikes and motocross lately too?
Jared: All 3 kids of ours like racing, which is pretty cool. I don’t want to push them to do anything, so there is no pressure at all. My daughter, she rode a little, but she doesn’t want to now, which is fine. She has more interest in RC, so that is pretty cool. My 2 boys LOVE motorcycles and they both seem like they will want to ride. They aren’t quite old enough yet, but we will see. I don’t really want them to race, but I would love to get them into riding and learning everything that goes along with riding.
LRC: A lot has been changing over the past few years in R/C, and its been a rollercoaster ride of good and bad. What are some things about R/C racing today that you believe we should work towards changing for a more positive tomorrow?
Jared: I started racing RC in March of 1999 and a lot has changed since those days. I think right now, the fun is falling out of RC. We can talk for days about this, I don’t think there is a quick fix. Society has changed a lot, the internet, social media, there are a lot of things that have changed. I don’t see people having as much fun with their RC cars as they did 10 years ago. I think bashers are still having fun, but the racers are not having as much fun. People don’t talk to each other as much, there are less friendships at the track right now. Social media has also really changed our world, for better and for worse. People are getting meaner and meaner with what they will type at a person, things that you would never actually say to a person face to face. That has killed friendships and grown a lot of hatred in the industry. Technology is a great tool, but a dangerous tool at the same time.
LRC: What is one piece of advice you can share for racers who want to seriously do well racing, but keep R/C car racing fun at the same time?
Jared: I think that is very hard. There is a HUGE step from being mediocre to being good, in anything you do. You can be a decent racer with very little effort, to be good, you must put in a lot of effort and work very hard, most people are not willing to put in that type of work. I think having good friendships at the track is the best way to keep RC fun, even when putting in a lot of hard work, that would be my advice.
LRC: You’ve had one of the most successful racing careers in R/C. This is the last year of your current contract with several of your sponsors. Anytime an accomplished racer reaches the end of a contract, people begin to pass rumors of retirement, new teams, etc. Do you plan to return to R/C racing for another year in 2019? If so, have you began making plans with either renewing contracts or moving in a direction?
Jared: Thank you, I’ve had an amazing career, and I’m super proud of it! For the past few years, I was pretty unhappy while racing, even hating my job I could say. I grew some serious hate towards RC and I really wanted to quit racing. Today, I’m really happy in life and enjoying RC again, which is good for me. All my racing contracts expire at the end of 2018, so it’s a pretty big year. I had originally planned on retiring after 2018, but I’m not planning on doing that now, I’m enjoying RC again, driving more like myself again, and feel like God still wants me in the RC industry. I have started conversations to continue racing, but nothing is set in stone yet.
LRC: Thank you for joining us today Jared! Is there anything you would like to add before we let you go?
Jared: Thanks for having Mike, I would just like to thank all my supporters, Kyosho, MX, AKA, Team Orion, Ko Propo, GS Hobby, JTP, BoomRC, TD Paint, Lunsford, MIP, Fastlane Raceway, my family for all their support, my wife Megan has gone through a lot during my racing career as well, she is AMAZING, Zach Rogers for helping me find myself again, and the Good Lord Jesus Christ for blessing me with this great career and all my opportunities I’ve been given!