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 R/C racer, R/C painter, motocross racer, road racer, and Super Hooligan National Champion Andy DiBrino!
LiveRC: Welcome Andy to this week’s edition of Talk It Up Tuesday! You are a motorsport specialist, and have proven yourself on everything from a flat track, to a road course, an R/C car track, and everything in between. When, where, how, and why did you first get started in R/C car racing?
Andy: It all started in early 2008 I believe. I had just gotten a RC10 GT2 for Christmas, a friend my age got me into nitro stadium trucks. I immediately got hurt on Christmas break so I didn't have much I could do, so we found a local r/c track called A Main Raceway and ran the GT2 out there. As a new driver, I was always on my lid and my Dad was tired of having to pullstart the thing haha. The Traxxas Slash had just come out, we saw people running those at the track and it looked like way more fun on this tiny indoor clay track. So we went out a bought one, and I started racing the Rockstar Short Course series that the track had. There was no novice class, there was just box stock and Mod I believe, so I ran box stock. That track shut down end of spring, and by summer I was racing dirt bikes and road racing again. But it was short lived as I got hurt once again, and it was back to the r/c track, this time Daves RC Tracks which is a killer outdoor 1/10-scale track close to my house. That summer solidified r/c as a hobby I was going to stay interested in for good.
LiveRC: As an R/C racer, what are some of your accomplishments that you are most proud of?
Andy: I have some stock titiles at CRCRC and the Cactus Classic I'm proud of, but I had a good run in Modified at the tail end of the rear motor days. The highlight in my eyes is CRCRC in 2013 when I won A Main #3 of Mod 2wd Buggy by jumping past Cavalieri on the final lap with a corner to go to steal the final spot on the podium. That race was crazy, just to be able to come from 7th on the grid, driving on the absolute edge, and have it be such a climatic win. I remember Tebo, who had won A1 and A2, coming up to me in shock with what he saw and congratulating me. A couple weeks later I finished 3rd in 2wd Open at the Reedy Race.
LiveRC: Aside from being an R/C racer, you are one hell of a painter (in and out of the R/C world). Tell us a little bit about your painting, how that got started, and some of the major names you’ve painted for.
Andy: Thanks! I have always been fairly artistic and I just got tired of dealing with painters, which is funny because now I am that stereotypical painter that never gets your stuff done haha. I figured I could do it and I liked messing with it. I got a few tips on how to do it, but I pretty much learned completely on my own through trial and error. Didn't take too long before I had it down. I painted for Ryan Cavalieri for a few years. He became a good friend through Joe Pillars. It was an honor to do that for him, until I had to stop because I was too busy with motorcycle racing. But I also would do bodies here and there for Jared Tebo when he was in a pinch. I did some one-off stuff for Cody King, Kyle McBride, Ryan Villopoto, 7deucedeuce, and FMXer Adam Jones. I also did box art for a Kyosho MP9 one year, and box art for the B4.1 back when I painted for Pudge. Theres some other good guys I am forgetting, but those were the main dudes. With my busy schedule, I pretty much only paint for Joe Pillars since he's one of my best friends and has had my back for almost 10 years now.
LiveRC: Outside of the R/C world you are a 2-time Super Hooligan National Champion. Tell us a little bit about what Super Hooligan racing is, and how you became a multi-time National Champion.
Andy: Its a form of flat track racing. The main difference between Super Hooligans and American Flat Track, which is the premier AMA sanctioned professional series, is that Super Hooligans is production based, meaning these aren't purpose made race chassis and so forth. We take nearly all the main manufacters street bikes, and convert them into flat track bikes. Basically the only rules is that the bikes must origante with a 750cc or larger displacement engine, and you cant modify the stock frame. That makes our bikes durastically heavier that the purpose built twins you see in American Flat Track, but we can make swingarms, custom tanks, and all kinds of trick stuff to adapt these bikes as best as we can. But at the end of the day, they are street bikes we are racing in the dirt. The Super Hooligan series is an AMA santionced national championship which is pretty sweet. I rode a Harley XG750 the last 2 years, but I just built a new KTM Duke 790 that I am going to be developing. How I got into it was through a sponsor of mine, See See Motorcycles. They had a bike and basically said, "hey go race it" and I liked trying new things. When the series started in 2017 and they announced all the prize money, and the $50,000 Indian FTR750 factory flat track bike as a championship prize, I knew I had to go for it and See See lent me the bike. I won the championship by a single point! It totally changed my career from being a focused professional MotoAmerica road racer to a flat track guy. I still compete in both, but Super Hooligans my focus. There are a lot of eyes on the series and a lot of major backing in it from companies and manufacturers in the industry.
LiveRC: Super Hooligan racing isn’t the only form of racing you are actively involved in. What other forms of two- and four-wheel racing do you participate in?
Andy: I grew up racing motocross primarily, before getting into supermoto and road racing as a teenager. By the time I was 18 I became a professional road racer and that was the focus. My best finishes in MotoAmerica (the premier AMA/FIM Pro Road Racing series in the States) was a 2nd in Superstock 600 and a 3rd in Stock 1000. I still race some MotoAmerica stuff on my Yamaha R1, and I also hit some of the American Flat Track pro races. You'll also see me racing the 125 class at the Washougal Pro MX National! 2-wheel stuff keeps me really busy so I haven't ventured into any car racing yet. I am content to race motorcycles and do some R/C on the side when I can for now.
LiveRC: So, we have established that you are a R/C car racer, a Super Hooligan champion, a flat track racer, a motocross racer, a road racer, and an R/C painter…is there anything else that your daily job and career consists of?
Andy: I am a pretty good desk jockey haha. I am behind the computer designing graphics for bikes, gear, and whatever all the time, as well as talking to sponsors and negotiating deals. I don't have a manager, so I handle all my sponsorship stuff and condordinate everything to do with my flat track racing program. My Dad handles getting the road race stuff ready, thats mostly it for him. Its pretty much a full-time job keeping up with everything. If I'm not behind a computer, I am riding anything as much as I can, or running bikes and parts around town to shops I work with.
LiveRC: Of all the things you do and race, which is your favorite and why?
Andy: It changes. I maybe don't have a favorite, which is why I do all these different things and don't just do one. Motocross will always be my first passion. But somedays road racing is the best sensation ever. You find a flow that you just can't replicate on the motocross track or flat track. They all have their unique challenges, which is what I think keeps me invested in all of them.
LiveRC: How does R/C car racing compare to these other forms of racing? Do feel that R/C racing helps you in the others and/or vice versa?
Andy: I feel initially my motocross and road racing background helped me out when I first started R/C big time. I knew how to throw the car around off jumps and pick lines. As a teen I wasn't mechanically inclined at all with motorcycles, my Dad did all the work, but as I got more into R/C and started working on stuff on my own, it got me into working on motorcycles as well. I feel R/C helps me be mentally stronger for when I am racing motorcycles and it keeps my reflexes sharp.
LiveRC: What is favorite class of R/C racing, and why?
Andy: These days since I pretty much only race carpet offroad. I like 2wd Mod Buggy. but back in my dirt days, I would say 2wd Mod Truck was my favorite. I loved how much better they jumped than a buggy, and the power wheelies they'd do!
LiveRC: You were a part of the ALTA Motors electric dirt bike movement. Do you see electric dirt bikes taking the same path that say electric 1/8-scale buggies have taken over the years? A bit of a slow start, but have become as popular (if not more) than nitro/gas in many parts of the country?
Andy: It's too early for me to say, and most people still can't imagine life without 2 and 4-strokes. There were a good amount of early adopters like myself with the ALTA when those came out, but until the major manufacterers get invovled, I think the whole electric movement is on hold. Honda has that sweet concept bike that looks wicked! For me, I prefered a regular dirt bike over the ALTA still, but I enjoyed having the electric option as an alternative and something really fun to mix it up with. It was a ton of fun working with ALTA and trying to grow the brand and make the bikes better. I was trying to get them to come out with a user-friendly interface to be able to adjust the maps, similar to adjusting an esc on an R/C car. I wanted a program box for it essentially. All the changes we made to adjust the peramiters of the bike was done on a computer in code by my friend Dale at ALTA.
LiveRC: You have been spotted more and more at the R/C track in recent months due to an unfortunate injury on the bike. Are there any plans to attend any major R/C events in the near future?
Andy: Well I made it to the first round of the JConcepts NCTS series in Las Vegas which was my first big race in years. I didn't drive half as good as I had been at home, but I still came away with a 8th in 2wd Mod Buggy as the top non-paid driver, and I won 13.5 Truck. I wanted to make my home round at Northwest Hobbies, but I was out of town for that. I will try to get out to another round of that series this year most likely. I miss the dirt, but I don't miss any of the tire games and I don't have anywhere in Oregon to drive on clay.
LiveRC: #zebrino… please explain your love for Zebras.
Andy: Haha, its actually my mom's pet and her passion, but I am embracing it and the strangeness of having a Zebra in the backyard! Her name is Zabrina and shes actaully super cool. She loves to watch me ride motorcycles at my home track next to her pasture.
LiveRC: What is one thing most people don’t know about Andy DiBrino?
Andy: Maybe that I wear contancts. I am blind without them pretty much!
LiveRC: What is the best way for fans to follow your wild ride of racing?
LiveRC: Andy, thank you so much for joining us today! It has been great getting a chance to chat with you, we hope to do it again very soon, and we wish you the absolute best of luck in whatever form of racing you’ll be doing next! Is there anything you would like to add before we let you go?
Andy: I would just like to give a shout out to Joe Pillars for taking me under his wing when I was first starting out with R/C racing, and for supporting me for so many years. He's been like a big brother to me! I don't know if I ever would have made it to a big race and met so many great people that I have over the years if it weren't for his influence. R/C will always be a hobby of mine, and I hope to stay involved enough to get out to a couple of big races in the future. If carpet racing continues to grow, you'll see me!