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 voice, director, and promoter behind some of R/C racing's most prestigious events - the one and only Scotty Ernst!
LiveRC: Welcome back Scotty to Talk It Up Tuesday! It has been a while since we’ve had the chance to chat! For those who may not know you, let’s start at the very beginning. When, where, how, and why did you first get involved in R/C car racing?
Scotty: Thank you for asking me to be a guest, I look forward to TIUT each week and It is cool to be asked to be a part of it. As a kid I never really was into RC Cars, I had the occasionally RC Car that only went forward and back and turned left... I know I am dating myself with that but some of your older readers will know what I am talking about. After I got out of the US Navy in 1988, Bowling was my hobby. It did not matter what was going on, I was going bowling. I heard an ad on the radio for the local RC Track and walked into Trackside Hobbies which was a banked dirt oval racing converted RC10’s and that day changed my life. I have not touched a bowling ball since 1988.
LiveRC: It’s no secret that you are one of the greatest announcers in the industry, however, many do not realize that you are also a very successful racer. What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a racer?
Scotty: Thanks for the kind words, but I think I am just the guy who talks to much. They say the older you get the faster you WERE, and I think I fit that saying well. I have had my share of success in my early years making some Modified Touring A Mains at the Roar Nats. Back in the hay days of the TCS series, I won the Tamiya Modified Touring US Championship in 1997, Got a win back in the TC3 days at Snowbirds and earned a Roar National Title in 1/12th Scale but that was a long time ago.
LiveRC: Talk to us a little about Trackside, your time as an owner, and why you decided to sell it?
Scotty: In 1993 the owner of Trackside was having trouble keeping the doors open and was contemplating closing the store. I told him I would be interested in taking it over and in March 1993 we bought what little he had left and began the life of a track owner. Our family operated the business for over 20 years and in 2013, I decided it was time to move on and sold it to my good friend Jamie Tennies. I sold it not because I was tired of doing it but because of all the traveling I was doing announcing events, it was not fair to the business being gone so much so I felt it was better to move on and leave it in Jamie’s hands and he has done a tremendous job with it.
LiveRC: When, where, how, and why did you decide to become a professional announcer / race promoter in the R/C industry?
Scotty: I never really planned on this becoming a profession for me. I would announce our weekly races at Trackside and when I would travel around to attend races as a racer, tracks would ask me if I would mind announcing some of the races. Then in 2001, Mike Reedy asked me if I would be interested in coming out to California to announce the Reedy Touring Car Race of Champions and that is when it all started. One place heard me do it and asked if I would do an event and it just snowballed from there. Then I started producing and organizing my own big event, the IIC in Las Vegas in 2005 and that started the promotion side of my life.
LiveRC: You have been the voice of a LOT of races over the years. What are some of the most memorable events you have announced?
Scotty: I have been blessed to be part of so many amazing events over the years but some of the ones that stick out in my mind will be the 1997 Carpet Nats between Joel Johnson and Josh Cyrul, an amazing 1/12th Mod race that came down to the wire with both guys dumping as they crossed the finish line and were separated by a hundredth of a second. 2008 World Championships in Bangkok Thailand when Marc Rheinard passed Atsushi Hara on the curb. One of the most amazing passes ever. Another less know event but ranks right up there for me as memorable as the ones I mentioned, would be Kamryn Ayers Stock Buggy win at the 2015 Cactus Classic. It was a brilliant drive and the vibe in the place was crazy as we all watched her beat some of the best stock racers in the US and when she won, it was a feeling that you rarely see at an RC race. The place went crazy with everyone cheering for her and her dad. It may have not been a World Championship but it capsulated the drive and passion that our hobby is about, and I will always keep that race in my top ones I have been fortunate to call.
LiveRC: Over the years you have also been the promoter of multiple major events and series/tours around the globe. Tell us a little about some of the various events and worldwide tours you have organized.
Scotty: After I started the IIC in 2005 and it was well received by racers and the industry, I took that idea and branched out to produce events outside the US. I pitched the idea of a European Touring Series to Uwe Rheinard at an event I was announcing, and we became 50/50 partners in that and started the ETS and then the EOS. Asia has a strong touring car presence especially in Hong Kong and Japan and I wanted to give that region of the World something new and different so I started the Asian On road Championship and throughout the last 10+ years I am proud to say they have grown and brought some fun and exciting events to racers in these areas.
LiveRC: Your latest venture is the Asian Nitro Championship, which is a nitro on-road tour throughout Asia and Australia. Why did you decide to create this new series, and what is your goal as it continues to grow?
Scotty: A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of attending a Nitro race in Asia and met some of the industry manufacturers who are involved in Nitro On-Road. I threw out the idea that it would be exciting to bring a Nitro series to this region of the World and after a lot of planning and great ideas and support from Infinity, we were able to bring it fruition and the ANC was born.
LiveRC: Where has the series been so far, and what venues are still left on the schedule for 2019?
Scotty: We started the ANC this year in Hong Kong, Round 2 was in Brisbane Australia and we will wrap up the opening year in Japan at the newly constructed Infinity Raceway Aug 28-Sept 1.
LiveRC: I have been told personally by the racers who have attended that the Asian Nitro Championship is a series that provides racers a World Championship feel at each event, which is very special for a lot of racers to have that experience. What are some of the ways you feel the ANC provides this?
Scotty: As we try to do at all our events, we try to bring the feeling of a World Championship to the event but focus mainly on the fun we can have enjoying our hobby. So many major events focus first on the rules, they limit practice and honestly limit the amount of fun the racers can have, and I feel this is not the way to do it. We all do this hobby because it is fun, and we try to do all we can to keep that the focus of our events. Keep it fun and I try and put myself in the racers shoes and think what I would like to have at an event. Our events are never perfect, but we try our best to give everyone involved the best experience we can.
LiveRC: Many of the current series and tours you are involved in are in Europe, Asia, etc. Have you given any thought to creating another series or tour similar to those in America?
Scotty: I would love to do that and have thought many times to get something going but the reason I have not is because there are so many great events already organized and running that I feel more options would not be a good thing for the racing scene in the US.
LiveRC: We have recently seen a MAJOR increase in popularity for dirt oval racing in the Midwest. As the promoter of the largest R/C dirt oval race in America (the R/C Chili Bowl), what do you think is the cause for the sudden increase in popularity in dirt oval racing?
Scotty: In many ways, I think it comes be down to simplicity. Of course, not in the high end very sophisticated classes like Outlaw Sprint cars but in classes like Street Stock or Short Course B Mod. These classes are RC at the most basic. You take an old buggy or Short Course truck, throw a dirt oval body on it and go racing. People can buy a used Slash, SC10 or B4 for $100, throw a body on them and show up and have fun. Many local tracks spec the tires to take as many of the games as possible out of the equation and racers can just have fun. I think this is a big reason for the growth of dirt oval.
LiveRC: On-road racing in America is another form of R/C racing that has fluctuated over the years. On a local level we aren’t seeing the number of racers involved in on-road as we once did, but yet as the host of the IIC you see fantastic numbers and participation year after year. How can we work to re-grow the local on-road scene as you have done with IIC?
Scotty: This is a tough one for sure. I think one of the reasons we have lost some of the local racing for on-road is that it has gotten so technical and sophisticated that it is difficult for a racer to keep up with everything on a weekly basis and the fun of going to the track for a race night has been lost. The still want to go to the big races like IIC, US Indoor Champs and Snowbirds, but on a weekly basis local tracks are struggling.
LiveRC: You have been a part of nearly every class of R/C car racing at one time or another. As an announcer, what is your favorite class to call the action?
Scotty: Man, that is a tough one also. I love them all, but for Electric, I have to say Dirt Oval as that is where I got my start racing and announcing. Although, I love calling nitro races because the races are longer, and I can tell a bit of story as the race progresses. Pit stops, fuel strategy, tire changes, that all gives me something to talk about and help tell the story to the viewers and this makes it a lot of fun.
LiveRC: As a racer, what is your favorite class to race?
Scotty: Back in the day it was Sprint Car on the Dirt Oval and 1/12th Scale on the carpet, but now that I only get to really race off road, I would say Short Course.
LiveRC: How many different countries have you visited all thanks to your career in R/C?
LiveRC: What is your favorite country to visit, and why?
Scotty: Philippines, the culture, people and country are just beautiful.
LiveRC: How many events do you typically attend per year?
Scotty: I try not to think about that but last year I directed/announced 33 events.
LiveRC: What are some of the events remaining for you in 2019?
Scotty: I still have a busy schedule for sure. I have the Reedy Race, Numerous ETS, EOS, ANC and AOC events, A new event for me is the Gold Cup Dirt Oval event with A Main Hobbies in September, that is going to be a blast, so I have a busy rest of the year coming up.
LiveRC: What is one thing most people don’t know about Scotty Ernst?
Scotty: I love playing chess with my Dad, I am not any good at it but he taught me when I was young and now that he is getting up in age, it is something we can still do together and that is very special to me.
LiveRC: Scotty it has been a pleasure catching up and chatting with you! We know you have a lot to do, and are getting set for your next trip, so we will let you get back to work. Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Scotty: Thanks for asking me to be part of TIUT and keep up the great job you are doing on LiveRC. I enjoy reading your articles and really enjoy some of the angles you look at our industry from. I think it gives a good and unique perspective on some of your topics. Keep it up.