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 newly crowned Reedy Race Open Class Champions and rising stars, Aydin Horne and Tom Rinderknecht!
(Photo courtesy of RedRC.net)
LiveRC: Welcome Tom and Aydin to this week’s edition of Talk It Up Tuesday! Let’s start at the beginning, who, what, when, where, how, and why did you get involved in R/C car racing to begin with?
Tom: I got started in RC with one of my old neighbors Traxxas Rustler, and just drove them around for a while. I discovered there was racing for RC cars at a local track and hobby shop called Hobby Haven. Ever since then I’ve been hooked!
Aydin: What’s up Mike! Thanks for having us! Thinking way back to the beginning, it all started for me when my dad opened his track right by my house. It was called “Factory Tracks Raceway” and I spent most of my time there as a kid. Whether I wanted to be there or not, I had to come every day because there wouldn’t be anyone at home to watch me. I was 4 years old when it started for me, and my dad bought me a ready to run XXXT. I didn’t really care about racing as much as I did the joys of just getting to drive. Back then, my main goal was to jump my truck into the garbage can in the hallway with less attempts than my brother. I remember one time I jumped my truck into the bathroom and hit the toilet. That was the highlight of my day. I felt so pro! The competitive side came into play a little later for me when my dad got me a stock buggy. My first ever 2wd drive car was a Kyosho RB5. Man, that thing was so mint. Ever since then, it been game on!
LiveRC: When was your first “big race” win?
Tom: Probably the 2014 Team Associated/Reedy Summer series win in Stock Buggy.
Aydin: Man, this one was a while ago so I can’t be too sure on my accuracy here, but the earliest big race I can remember attending was the 2008 ROAR 1/10 nationals. I was just your average 6-year-old squidding out in stock buggy at the time. I remember finishing somewhere in the C main, which I was pumped about at the time.
LiveRC: You have both made history by winning the Reedy Race of Champions Open Class divisions. Did you ever think one day that you would be Reedy Race Open Class champions?
Tom: After watching so many people win, it’s pretty surreal, I’ve always wanted to win this and now going back into the invite class for a few years, I’m really excited. Aydin and I talked before the race about if each of us won a class, so winning 4wd and Aydin winning 2wd, really topped it off.
(Photo courtesy of JConcepts)
Aydin: It has been a huge personal goal for myself ever since I first attended the Reedy Race in 2016. That year, I barely made it into Sunday’s program and ended up watching Alex K and Joona Haatanen take the wins that year. I remember watching them lead laps throughout their mains just thinking of how cool it would be to one day be in that position. Since then, I’ve had the goal set to win in myself. I came really close back in 2018, ending with second place after a tie for the win with CJ Jelin. I was bummed that year to come so close and not get it. The next year I was moved up to the Invite class, so it really was looking like I’d never get another chance at an open class win. Luckily, I blew out at Nationals just enough to be dropped back into the open class with another shot at the win.
(Photo courtesy of JConcepts)
LiveRC: What were some of the highs and lows throughout the weekend leading up to your wins?
Tom: The biggest low was rebuilding my 2wd diff before Q3 and forgetting a thrust ball. Had a DNF in Q3 and really needed another good run to secure a good starting position. Q4 went very well for me as I was able to get a 2nd in 2wd and getting the TQ in the last round of 4wd. This allowed me to be super confident into the main.
Aydin: For the most part, the whole weekend went really well for me, I was able to grab enough good runs in qualifying to secure the overall TQ, along with that came a good deal of confidence to finish the job in the mains. A1 was definitely a low for the weekend though. At that point it was looking like I was in the midst of choking the win away after a bad couple of first laps set me back. Fortunately, A2 ended up being my most solid run of the week, which I would definitely place in the “highs” category. If I had to pick the worst part of the weekend as a whole, it was anxiously tossing and turning in my bed every night unable to sleep due to the excitement of being in the hunt.
LiveRC: Going into the mains, who did you expect to be your biggest competition for the race wins?
Tom: I knew that anyone could win especially with two 10-minute A mains. Aydin TQ’ed both so I knew he would be tough to beat, also Mason Fuller, Alex Vanderbeek, and Austin Horne were very fast in both classes. Also Aaron Kothman got very fast in 4wd late, and was putting pressure on me in A1. I just tried to keep my mind clear and worry about my driving and see how it would play out.
Aydin: I honestly tried not to think about anyone but myself too much beforehand in the mains. I knew that I started 1st, and I was just going to try to take it lap by lap until the end. I knew everyone would be fast, so I couldn’t afford many mistakes.
(Photo courtesy of JConcepts)
LiveRC: Which main was there more pressure, and why – A1 or A2?
Tom: A2 because it always carries the most weight for the tie breaker, so you need to be on it.
Aydin: There was definitely more pressure going into A2. I blew the win in the first main, therefore I had to be absolutely flawless in A2 to have any shot at the overall win. I tried to avoid thinking like this, but with the race coming up, it was all so overwhelming to face.
LiveRC: Aside from this past weekend, what are some of your biggest accomplishments in R/C car racing?
Tom: Probably making the 2018 ROAR Nationals 2wd A Main.
Aydin: Finishing 4th in 2wd Mod at the 2018 Nationals is definitely a highlight for me so far, as well as taking the win in Nitro Truggy at the 2019 King Of Kings and numerous FTR invitational titles to go along with it. I also have JConcepts National Series titles in the 2wd Stock Buggy class and 4wd Stadium Truck class.
LiveRC: Do you hope to make a full-time paid career out of R/C car racing in the future?
Tom: That would be awesome for sure and that’s always a dream, working in the RC industry would be very awesome in any form, but of course I’m always striving to become better!
Aydin: Personally, that would be a dream come true. Not many people can pull this off though, so getting where I want to be is no easy task.
(Rivals on the track and friends off the track at the 2018 ROAR Off-Road Nationals.)
LiveRC: You both attended the 2019 IFMAR World Championships at HUDY Arena in Slovakia. Tell us a little about that journey.
Tom: It was for sure an amazing experience. I didn’t have the greatest results, but it was an amazing learning experience and a great trip with friends and family.
Aydin: That was the gnarliest race of my life. The experience was one that I will never forget. The facility was absolutely top notch, and the surroundings were just beautiful. Everything (in my opinion) was as good as it gets. The racing portion did not go as well as I’d hoped, but it was still a great learning curve. I remember one bad lap would drop me from 10th to 20th just like that. I’ve never been involved with such close racing throughout the whole class before. Every round, 10th through 40th would only be separated by a few seconds. All in all, one of the best memories I’ll ever have.
LiveRC: Which other drivers do you look up to the most and why?
Tom: Ryan Maifield, Dakotah Phend and Jared Tebo. They are all super-fast obviously, but also they are willing to help anyone and are always great representatives for their companies
Aydin: While I have a great deal of respect for each and every one of them, I’d have to say I look up to Ty Tessman and Spencer Rivkin the most. These two guys always find a way to rise to the occasion. They both have the “never say die” attitude and you have to respect that. On top of that, when things aren’t going their way, they both keep their cool and still act professionally at all times. All around, these are the baddest dudes in the industry from my perspective.
LiveRC: What advice do you have for other rising stars who have a goal of being in your shoes someday?
Tom: Never be afraid to ask questions, practice as often as possible, and keep having fun! Many of the higher-level drivers are all willing to help, so watching them and asking them questions will help!
Aydin: Approach every event like it’s your last. Never come into a weekend thinking “It’s okay if I don’t go good, there is always next time.” You have to give every single event everything you have. And if you still don’t end up where you want, it’s important to keep your cool. Acting professional when things are taking a turn for the worst says a lot about character. A champion is not determined from when they succeed, it’s all about how they rebound from a failure.
LiveRC: What are your favorite and least favorite classes to race, and why?
Tom: I always have loved racing Mod 2wd, so I would say that’s still my favorite. I don’t have a least favorite, but I would like to get more time behind Nitro Buggy as its one of my weaker classes. I’m excited for some more nitro races in the near future!
(Photo courtesy of JConcepts)
Aydin: 2wd Mod is hands down my favorite car to drive. When you get the setup right, and get in a good groove, it’s like poetry in motion. It requires a nice smooth driving style and when things are really clicking, there’s no better feeling. My least favorite class to run is short course. I’ve only ever driven one twice, and both times were easily forgettable to say the least. For whatever reason, I can’t even get around with one of those things. Hand me the best short course on the planet and I’ll look like captain novice out there.
(Photo courtesy of JConcepts)
LiveRC: Who do you think is the best R/C car racer on the planet currently, and why?
Tom: Probably Ryan Maifield because he is always winning at least one class at each event it seems like.
Aydin: All around, I think the best RC racer is currently Bruno Chuelo. Mainly because he has mastered every category of racing from 1/12-scale to nitro buggy. He’s a contender everywhere he goes.
LiveRC: When you aren’t R/C car racing, what are some of your other hobbies and interests?
Tom: I used to play lots of tennis but now I mostly focus on RC and school since I’m almost done with my senior year.
Aydin: I enjoy spending time with my friends at the motocross track. Whenever I’m home for a weekend in the summertime, you can bet I’m just 5th gear tapped hanging off the rear fender of my YZ250 throwing scrubs off of Larocco’s Leap at RedBud…Just Kidding! Although it would be nice to have those kinds of skills on a dirt bike, you can normally find me in last place, barely orbiting the track in the C class whenever I grow the balls to line up on the gate.
LiveRC: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Tom: I went hard at skateboarding when I was little (thought I was good).
Aydin: I have a fairly decent amount of skills with a kendama. For those who don’t know, it’s an old Japanese stick and ball toy that I like to play with in my spare time.
LiveRC: Who supports your racing the most and makes it all possible?
Tom: My Mom and Dad have been my biggest supporters since day one, but also all of my sponsors have really played a huge roll in getting me to the next level!
(Tom and his dad Joel Rinderknecht.)
Aydin: HUGE shoutout going to my parents for making the sacrifices they do to keep my on the track. My dad builds decks out in the snow just so I can keep my dreams alive, and that’s something I have to respect and give massive props for. Love you pops. You’re a legend. Also a big shoutout going to my sponsors that never fail to support me - Factory Tracks Racing, Team Associated, Pro-Line, Reedy, Lunsford, VRP, Sanwa, LiveRC, Nankin hobby, and DBX Films.
(Aydin and his dad Allen Horne.)
LiveRC: Congratulations once again to both of you! Thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to seeing you both at the track very soon! Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Tom: Thank you for the inverview, I appreciate it! Thanks to all of my sponsors for the continued support - Team Losi Racing, Horizon Hobby, Hobbywing, JConcepts, SpektrumRC, and The RC Compound.
Aydin: Thanks for having us Mike, you’re the man!