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!
This week we sit down and chat with Sweep Racing USA's President, John Lee, to discuss the brand, new tires, new drivers, and more!
LiveRC: Welcome John to this week’s edition of Talk It Up Tuesday! When, where, how, and why did you get started in R/C cars?
John: I was 11, my step father bought an RC airplane (Falcon from TF I believe) and I flew a few planes, but I got bored. Then we bought a used Kyosho “Peanut racer” 1/10-scale nitro buggy, and I loved it. I moved to the United States when I was 16, got my driver’s license, and hit the first track the next day! I drove like 3 hours. I’m still at the track almost every weekend ever since.
LiveRC: What made you decide to make a career in R/C with Sweep Racing USA?
John: I had an indoor off-road track in the NYC back in late 80’s-early 90’s, met lots of great people, and they brought me back into the hobby business in 2008 with Sweep Racing.
LiveRC: As the President of Sweep Racing USA, what are some of your daily roles and responsibilities?
John: During the day I distribute orders to employees, replying to emails, cleaning, debating LOL. In evening I communicate with our factory in Seoul, South Korea.
LiveRC: Sweep started out by offering 1/10-scale touring car tires, but now offers a full line of tires for 1/10-scale and 1/8-scale vehicles both on-road and off-road. What is the most popular Sweep Racing tire in America currently?
John: TC tires and 1/8-scale off-road buggy tires.
LiveRC: Sweep also has a line of 1/10-scale touring car and 1/8-scale GT on-road bodies. Is there plans to offer off-road bodies in the future as well?
John: We did briefly, but then it got put behind our main projects (tires). We have plans to bring our designers back in to the sanding room.
LiveRC: In addition to tires and bodies, Sweep also offers a full lineup of accessories as well. What are some of the newest and most popular accessories from Sweep?
John: Our glue is very popular along with heavy duty body clips that actually stay put after hard crashes.
LiveRC: How has the hobby changed for Sweep Racing over the past 10 years?
John: It’s got larger, more popular. Thanks to LiPo batteries, brushless motors, and pre-broken in engines, it has become easier to get into the sport.
LiveRC: Sweep was the spec tire for the 2017 IFMAR 1/10-scale Off-Road Worlds in China. Did this help to boost tire sales in America?
John: Yes! It gave a chance to run the tires for those who have never even heard of Sweep.
LiveRC: What do you feel is the advantage Sweep Racing tires have over the other brands?
John: Our tires are known for being better balanced tires/wheels thanks to our manufacturing process called “casting molding”. This takes a little longer/cost to produce, but results in a near perfect balance. As well as our tires being long lasting and providing more traction.
LiveRC: “Silly Season” for sponsorships is getting underway, does Sweep Racing USA have any plans to sign any new top drivers for 2019?
John: YES! Keeping old friends and making new, that’s what we do in this hobby.
LiveRC: How can drivers apply for a sponsorship with Sweep USA for 2019?
John: Have your last 3 official race results (pdf, url), either TQ or a podium finishes are a must, and a hot lap also helps in some cases. Email those to us through our site https://www.sweepracingusa.com/crm.asp?action=contactus along with a simple resume.
LiveRC: We are mid-way through the IFMAR Worlds in Perth, Australia. Who are the major Sweep Racing drivers in attendance?
John: Lee Martin from UK and Dani Choi from South Korea.
LiveRC: What Sweep Racing 1/8-scale buggy tire do you feel works best in most conditions?
John: #314 Defender, a successor from our proven winner #306 Square Armor, which was a unique break through design in year 2010. We are proud to say we were the first one to debut this medium-sized square pin design.
LiveRC: Who do you think will win this year’s IFMAR 1/8-scale Off-Road World Championship?
John: LEE MARTIN!! Sorry young Dani Choi 😊
LiveRC: How often are you able to get out of the office and go racing yourself?
John: Once per week or once every 6 months..? LOL! It all depends on businesses and family schedule (Lauren and Ed, my 2 kids). I am very fortunate to have the 360V2 as my local track, 15-minutes from the Sweep USA office.
LiveRC: What is your favorite class of racing in R/C, and why?
John: 1/10-scale off-road Mod. I started racing seriously with my gold tub RC10, and won my share of races in that class back in 90’s.
LiveRC: Can you give us any hints to new products that may be coming soon from Sweep Racing?
John: #316 off-road tire, called WHIPS. These new tires use our all new V6 Carcass. A mini pin design for maximum forward traction while creating just enough side bite for maximum turning ability. Available in the US warehouse at end of the November, 2018.
LiveRC: Thank you very much for joining us today John, is there anything you would like to add before we go?
John: Thank you for all who supporting Sweep Racing and who supports local tracks and local hobby stores. Finally, subscribe to LiveRC! 😊