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!
For this week's Talk It Up Tuesday we sit down with the founder of the SoCal Bashers R/C Club, Cory Lesovsky, to discuss the ins and outs of the club, the goal of bringing in new racers, the unique series of races and tracks involved, and more!
LiveRC: Welcome Cory to this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday! Before we get started what is your background in R/C cars and racing? When, where, how, and why did you get started in R/C?
Cory: My family and I are active in the off-road scene here in the heart of SoCal. One weekend camping in Borrego Springs, a camp next to us brought out an HPI Baja 5t. It was the best morning alarm as it ripped up a hill early in the morning. The next month, my uncle brought me to a hobby shop at 13 years old where I bought my first RC, a Traxxas Slash 2wd.
LiveRC: You are the founder of club known as “SoCal Bashers”. Explain to us exactly what is the SoCal Bashers club?
Cory: The SoCal Bashers is a group that throws together a professional racing program adapted to those who can not afford racing on a regular schedule, whether it is cash or time that they lack. Through a timing system, PA system, food, prizes, and tons of fun, there is a lot to offer to everyone in the industry.
LiveRC: What made you decide to start the SoCal Bashers?
Cory: After about a year into the hobby, I later found out one of my good friends was also into the hobby. We started to build a small track in an open field near my house. He got a girlfriend and never saw him again (typical story). After building the track alone, I wanted to find more people in the hobby. I emailed a few potential sponsors, talked with our local hobby shop, and created a flyer. I posted it on my Instagram and about 8 kids showed up, ranging from 8 -12 years old. We held a race where everyone participated, we recorded position by video, gave away multiple prizes, and had tons of fun. It was a great first race and I learned a lot about everything involved in an event.
LiveRC: How many people have attended these events, and how many typically attend a SoCal Bashers racing event?
Cory: We have had over 150 unique people attend our events. Our largest event has been our opening round for The American Series at 86 entries. Typically, we see 60 entries on average.
LiveRC: How is this group different than other R/C tracks, groups, and racing clubs?
Cory: We cater to the complete beginner. This is something we, as a group, do for fun and not for money. Therefore, we don’t have to cater to enthusiast with the most money. We set them up for success in the real racing world, being sure everyone shows class on and off the track. The tracks we race on are outdoor, and in most cases, loamy. In these conditions, you don’t see changes in your car with tiny changes. It keeps everyone on a level playing field, in case someone can’t afford the new and improved parts. It brings in the driver’s skill as a factor more than ever before.
LiveRC: We’ve been told that the club is really growing the hobby again in your area, and that you see a lot of new racers joining and enjoying R/C. What do you feel is the main attraction to joining the club for new enthusiasts?
Cory: Most brand new racers will come to an event with empty hands to just hang out and soak it all in. All new racers come in with no idea what to expect. As they walk around, they see smiles, laughs, people helping others on their cars or lending spare parts, a race director following the race closely through the mic, racers peaking at heat sheets to see their time, tables full of prizes from our great sponsors and much more. The experience isn’t the same without one of the factors above and really ties together our events that keep our attendees coming back. Our biggest attribution to a complete event has to be the environment, as said by many of our attendees. There’s no glaring eyes, words of discouragement, or tiny cliques you unfortunately see a handful of times at your local facility, and many more factors that contribute to an intimidating environment.
LiveRC: You’ve mentioned to us that what started as 1 backyard track, has now turned into 4 backyard tracks in the club and still growing. Talk to us a little bit about these tracks, how they got started, and who runs them.
Cory: Cody Thompson is one of our racers. He started with a Traxxas Slash 2wd and raced at our 5th race, held at Temescal Canyon High School’s track in Lake Elsinore, CA over two years ago. He was hooked and has attended each race since. Roughly a year and a half ago, he had a track builder come in on his property in Menifee, CA, and built an awesome 1/10 track. Perfect for SCT action, we joined in on the action, and hosted a race at his track nearly a year ago. Since then, CTRC has grown from one track to two; adding an 1/8 track. Cottonwood RC, track #3, is owned and ran by Cody Lee, the track builder for CTRC. They have ran one practice and their grand opening is TBA, hosted by SoCal Bashers. Broc LaRouche, owner of Broc’s RC Repair, has been a sponsor and attendee of ours for the years. He is building track #4 now, 1/10 based with a mixture of clay and dirt. We have a great variety of track surface types and sizes now.
LiveRC: Explain to us how your events work, as they don’t follow the “traditional” IFMAR style qualifying and mains format.
Cory: With local facilities based off IFMAR: In all electric classes in most cases, you get two 5 minute qualifiers and one 5 minute main event. In this case, single day events take anywhere from 6 - 12 hours to complete. 15 minutes of run time for 6 - 12 hours isn’t a good trade off and deters most new guys. Here is how our new racing program will be setup for future events:
Practice: Practice is now your seed into your heat. Each class gets two 10 - 15 minute practice runs. Your goal during practice is to complete 5 consecutive laps in the fastest amount of time: this seeds you into your first heat. We picked this because most beginners to racing get the “jitters” and aren’t able to compete as well as they could with IFMAR styled racing, where total time is what counts. In our format, if someone makes a mistake, they can roll around the track and try again as they pass through the loop.
Heats: There are 2 heats, both organized by pole position start. Your starting position for your 1st heat is dependent to your practice seed. Your 2nd heat starting position is dependent on your 1st heat result. This means that both heats AND main event are head-to-head racing. Since there are usually more than one heat per class in our races, this means you will have an “A-heat”, “B-heat”, etc. For example, if there are 12 cars in one class and heat sizes are 6 cars at a time, “A-heat” will hold the top 6 and “B-heat” will hold the bottom 6. Drivers will be lined up according to their position. If you are position 7, you will lined up on the 7th spot on the pole position, however, you will be 1st in the race, since they are lined up behind you. This ensures we can use a level scoring system for all racers in different heats in one class. Once both heats are up, you use Qual Points to determine your spot for the main event (Q1 + Q2). Main events are ran the same, where you line up for head-to-head racing and you race for position.
In this case, you see much more track time, increases head-to-head racing, yet keeps it just as competitive. With our current race layout, it is perfect for the size of events we hold. For larger events, we will be hitting the drawing board.
LiveRC: What classes are most popular among the SoCal Bashers club members?
Cory: Ebuggy and 4wd SCT are by far our most popular classes. Nitro and E-truggy has been growing, as we see more active racers come to participate. We also offer 2wd SCT, 2wd and 4wd buggy, and a 12 n’ under class. The current class that is taking off is the Scale TT class, which incorporates cars such as the Traxxas UDR and Losi Baja Rey, etc.
LiveRC: What is your ultimate goal for the SoCal Bashers club moving forward?
Cory: We want to grow more ground in the hobby to spread our message: Beginners should be given a path to follow towards racing on a regular basis. We want to encourage more track owners, current racers, and other big names behind the scenes to push RC towards an average citizen’s life. Making the hobby more enjoyable by many will ensure its growth.
LiveRC: Who is invited to be a member of the club, and how do you join?
Cory: That brings up a great point. Many enthusiasts that are interested in joining for a race think you need to “have an in” or another way to get into this highly locked down organization. There are absolutely no requirements from anybody and we do not turn down anyone. We encourage active racers to come help our participants on and off the track, however, they are allowed to run if they wish.
LiveRC: For those in other parts of the country looking to create a club similar to the SoCal Bashers and welcome in new R/C enthusiasts, what is some advice and guidance you may have for them?
Cory: Be sure to have a balance between having pure fun and setting up a racing program. As long as you keep it fun and structured, other things will fall into place. Also, be friendly to everyone you meet. In the off chance, if people say nasty things to your face, kill it with kindness. You have to be a role model to the beginners.
LiveRC: For other tracks and promoters what are some key things that you feel are needed to encourage and welcome new racers, and keep them having fun?
Cory: Make a positive environment and cater to the beginners. RC isn’t about the drama, decline in racing, and every other negative topic that's being tossed around right now. It’s about having competitive fun with the best people around. Also, for indoor tracks, it is the hardest to gain beginners. They run cars that are made specific to that track surface, every setup change counts, and tire prep is needed to run smoothly. With all of the work and money involved, many beginners are deterred away from it. With outdoor, you can run a car that you can also bash in your backyard. So for indoor, maybe look into selling pre-prepped tires so begineers don’t have to toast a few pairs before they start to get the hang of it. This is one example of many.
LiveRC: Where can someone find more information about the SoCal Bashers?
Cory: You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and our website: SoCalBashers.com!
LiveRC: Thank you very much for joining us today Cory! We wish you and the SoCal Bashers the best of luck in the future, and I’m sure we’ll talk again soon! Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Cory: Myself and others in my area are working hard to give RC a new name and vibe. Hopefully these beginners will grow into racing and completely change the environment and attitudes of others for good. Thank you to our following sponsors: RCJuice.com, AKA Products, Hitec, Gens Ace, Broc’s RC Repair, Reef’s RC, and Horizon Hobby.
Thank you to John at RCJuice.com for being the first sponsor of many that supports my visions for the hobby.
Thank you Joel Johnson and Gil Losi Jr. for being the first local sponsor to take time out of their day 3 years ago to hear my message as a 16 year old. I consider both as close friends and appreciate the time and knowledge they have given me.
Thanks to the track owners, everyone appreciates all the hard work that goes into owning a dialed track.
I want to personally thank my family and friends that have encouraged me to continue to strive for these shared goals for RC and its industry.
Last of all, I want to thank all of our participants who have attended in the past and plan on attending in the future. Remember, this is for you guys. Without all of you, SoCal Bashers would be non-existent. Thank you very much for having me Mike!