By Tyler Hooks
Female Perspective is a monthly interview segment where Tyler Hooks catches up with some of the quickest female names in the hobby. Tune in to find out about their careers, social lives and how they feel about the RC hobby.
When the idea for this interview segment came about, there was never any doubt who the first interview would be with as long as she had time. Ronda Drake is one of the most down to earth and easy to talk to personalities in the RC community, and she paved the way for many females racing today.
TH: I would have to say you are, in my opinion, the most prominent female RC racer of all time, where did that all start and how do you feel about holding that unofficial title?
RD: A Family member had several RC Cars and I really took an interest to them. For Christmas one year my Brother in-law gave me a Kyosho Raider. I would drive my raider in random parking lots with my custom Ferrari body. I would be considered a Backyard Basher back then. I later bought a Team Losi JRX-Pro1/10 Electric Buggy. I started racing in1990 at my local track “Outlaw Motor Speedway” in Highland Ca. I was just a little girl determined to show people I was just as fast as the guys because someone told me I couldn’t do it! I’ve only ever set personal goals for myself and was never seeking any titles. I am happy to say I’ve been racing competitively for almost a solid 29 years.
TH: Do you feel that you had the same opportunities in the beginning as male racers, how about now?
RD: Of course not! I tried for many years to get sponsored with no luck. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when I got my first sponsor. I think the help from Extreme Magazine, Car Action, and my Orion adds helped me gain more exposure and changed the perception of the female racer. . I guess that how you open doors and take it to the next level. In 2018 it seems everyone is sponsored and with the help of Social Media it makes everyone seem like a top level pro in R/C.
TH: What has been you biggest accomplishment in racing?
RD: My most memorable moment in racing was at the 2006 ROAR Truck Nats in Vegas. I was 13th qualifier for the 3rd round out of 140 drivers and racing against the top level Pro Drivers. My most recent memorable race was at this year’s Silver State in Vegas I made all the Mains in the Expert and 40 plus classes. I won the 40 plus Truggy class by a lap. I know what you’re thinking its 40 and over with a bunch of old guys sponsored by AARP. Now days 40 plus is a stacked class compared to years past.
TH: If you could change anything about your racing career what would it be?
RD: I would have to say that I have enjoyed all the highs and lows and have learned from all my experiences. To answer the question it would be leaving Mugen Seiki in 2012 and joining my husband to race the TLR car. Adam had so much success with the TLR cars. I thought having Adam set up my cars that it would take me to the next level of my racing career. It was a step backwards for me because the car did not suit me and the way that I drive. I actually lost all my motivation to race and considered getting out of the hobby. Adam parted ways with TLR in 2015. I was so excited to be able to race for Mugen again and that Adam would be racing for Mugen as well. Things happen for a reason!
TH: Being a female, do you feel that your treatment within the industry was overall positive and respectful?
RD: I never expected special treatment from anyone. I’ve had my fair share of mean comments (It’s just human nature) It has shaped me into the person I am today. Overall, it’s been a fun journey.
TH: You have been a role model for quite a few female racers following in your footsteps, is that type of informal mentorship role something you enjoy?
RD: In years past it put a little added pressure on me to say and do the right things. I never wanted to offend or have someone change their opinion of me. We all have the opportunity to great things while we are here on earth. It’s rewarding to look back almost 30 years ago and how things have changed with all the females that race today. I’m sure their fathers were thinking if this girl can race, so can my daughter! It’s very flattering to have to have people look up to you and follow in your footsteps.
TH: Ultimately you took steps back from racing to continue your education, was the decision to stop racing as prominently an easy one?
RD: Who doesn’t want to play with toy cars full time? Let’s be real though, a select few get to do this as a profession in the R/C industry. Instead of taking a risk, I took the old fashion route went back to school and took a job that has nothing to do with what I went to school for which was Web design and programming. Lol
TH: Any words of wisdom for the next generation of girls and boys finding a footing in the RC community?
RD: Sometimes we become so focused on the finish line. We fail to enjoy the journey.
TH: Do you have any racing goals for the future, or do you just go with the flow?
RD: The goal is to do this as long as I can because it’s what I love to do!
RD: I want to say thank you to: MUGEN SEIKI, PRO-LINE, O.S. ENGINES, FUTABA, UPGRADE, FLASH POINT FUEL, TEKIN ELECTRONICS, AVID BEARINGS, DARKSIDE DESIGNS, DERacing.net, TRAKPOWER, PRO-MOTION T-shirts, IB PROSTART, and COW RC.