Talk-It-Up Tuesday with Jason Ashton
Tuesday, Aug 6, 2013 08:00am
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!
In 2004 I sold one my dirt bikes to get back into R/C car racing as a side hobby, a vacation from motocross you might say. Our local track at the time was Real R/C Raceway, which hosted the annual Mugen Seiki Challenge. Each year the nation's best drivers would head to the little town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri for the event, and amongst those racers was one man who quickly became my hero. He was a national championship winning racer, all around nice guy, and factory driver. All of that was fine and dandy, but what made him my hero was none other than his Travis Pastrana painted cars flying around the track.
Since his retirement, I have yet to find a hero like him, whose paint job swept me off my feet. I received a gift from above through my inbox last week, as I opened my email to find that my hero AND his paint scheme are BACK! Without further ado, the one and the only Jason Ashton!
LiveRC: First of all welcome to "Talk-It-Up Tuesday" Jason! Second of all, welcome back to R/C racing! What brings you back?
Jason: Thanks Mike. I’m back for fun, and vengeance…mostly vengeance. Just kidding. I’ve missed hanging out with some of my friends. Mostly the people here in Las Vegas. Mike Kazz, The Antill's, Dylan and Donnie Rodriguez, Jason Ayers, Richard Saxton. I just miss being able to go to the track and just laugh and have a good time with people that I have known for what seems to be ever.
LiveRC: For those who may not be familiar with your racing career, what are some of the highlights of the past?
Jason: Highlights, let’s see. How about the clutch bell cutting a perfect circle hole in my gas tank at the 2007 ROAR Nationals, or top end needle falling off at the 2004 Silverstate, or running the Sidorf buggy for 10 minutes at the Silverstate A-main battling with Ryan Cavaleri for 3rd while my car was stuck at quarter throttle because the throttle linkage fell off. My highlights seem to be the random things that happened to no one else but me. But if we are talking about some result highlights, most memorable would be the 2004 Roar Nationals that I won, even though people still think I cheated as my gas tank tech’d to large(which it never actually did, was just right on the 125cc mark). I also finished 9th at the 2000 IFMAR 1/8th Worlds, here in Las Vegas, with my family and friends all here, so that was pretty awesome. Little known fact is that I pit for Jared Tebo for back to back Roar 1/10th Gas Truck National Championships. Maybe even three times in a row? Getting old, brain isn’t remembering things so well anymore.
Jason: Christmas of 1986 (I was 4) I got two R/C cars as presents. My dad went and returned both of them to get something better. We got a Tamiya Falcon, and a Tamiya Lunchbox. After playing around in the front yard for a few days, my dad heard there was a track that we could drive/race at. Coral Springs Roadrunners in Florida, which I think is still around. Well we started going down and racing and once I started beating my dad he pretty much became my mechanic and we just kept racing until we moved here to Las Vegas in 1989. At that point I started racing quite often and got picked up by Losi in 1991.
LiveRC: At what point did racing become your job?
Jason: I started actually getting paid to race in 2003 by Mugen. So I guess that’s when it became a job. Paychecks got a lot larger after I won 2004 ROAR Nats.
LiveRC: You stepped away from R/C roughly 6-7 years ago, correct? What have you been doing all of this time?
Jason: Not quite that long! Actually only really about 3 or 4 years. I actually got divorced from my highschool sweetheart in 2009, and it really hit me pretty hard. I didn’t know what to do in life, or really who I was, and in all honesty was just lost. It took me quite a while to really figure things out. I met Samantha in 2011 and we just hit it off right from the minute we met. We got married last May, and we have a wild crazy two and half year old now. So most of my time has been spent with them, and really enjoying the “family” life.
I also really concentrated on my job. I am a (MCT) Microsoft Certified Trainer as well as a(ACE) Adobe Certified Educator, so I teach computers programs to individuals everyday all over the world. And just in case that wasn’t enough I run an event photography company that pretty much covers every motorsport there is. I also started racing motocross again. So I have defiantly kept busy and I think I have become a much different and better person for what I have gone through.
(Jason's wife, Samantha, is very supportive of his racing efforts. Here she distracts the competition before the start of Moto 1.)
LiveRC: Tell us a little about getting hooked up with Hobby Pro USA. How did it all come about, and why not rejoin your long-time sponsor Mugen Seiki?
Jason: It came together pretty quick and easy to be honest. I have been friends with Andy Smolnick for many years, we were at CEN Racing together. I have always liked Andy, he is a good guy, nothing but an honest genuine person. We talked at this year’s Silverstate about me possibility of doing some racing for them and I told him I would think about it. A couple weeks later we exchanged a few emails. And here we are today.
As far as Mugen is concerned. I enjoyed my time at Mugen. I honestly think they make amazing products and I have nothing bad to say about them. But I had a falling out with Kris Moore, we had a disagreement and both parties kind of believed that promises were made and weren’t followed through. I have attempted to reach out to them and apologize, but never heard anything back. I am extremely grateful for what Mugen did for me. I think I won Mugen USA their first National title. We had a great team back then and lots of memorable times, and I am very thankful for those. Even now I would like to Thank Kris Moore, Robbie Collins, and Mike Swauger(even though Mike doesn’t work there anymore), Tim Long, and the best team mate ever Chad Bradley.
LiveRC: Primarily we remember you as an 1:8 buggy and 1:10 gas truck driver. What all classes will you be racing?
(Jason and the national championship winning Mugen Team of 2004.)
(Jason and the national championship winning Mugen Team of 2004.)
Jason: As of right now I have only built my Hobby-Pro PRS1. We don’t really have a good track to run 1/8th Buggy right now in Las Vegas. Boulder City doesn’t run that often, and it is a 1000 degree outside. And 2wd buggy is the most popular class here in Las Vegas at 702 Raceway. So I said that’s what I want to get back into first, then I will get back into running the Agama Buggy once the weather cools down and boulder city starts running more often.
LiveRC: We understand you will be running the Agama lineup of 1:8 vehicles and the PRS1 2wd buggy. What is your overall thoughts on the vehicles?
Jason: So far so good. While building the PRS1 I was honestly shocked. It builds like a 1/8th buggy. The quality, the fit, and even the design makes it look like a mini 1/8th buggy. In my honest opinion it actually is the first of a new generation of 2wd buggies. Andy Smolnik dominates in California with it, It’s a really well made car. Midmotor also seems to be the new trend, and I built mine in that configuration because it just looks way better, and anything that looks that good has to work good right?
As far as the Agama 1/8th stuff. I haven’t had a chance to do much with it, But Jeremy Kortz does extremely well with it, and so I am expecting it to defiantly be on Par with all the other cars that are out.
LiveRC: Will you be teaming up with any of your old sponsors as well for tires, engines, and such?
Jason: I haven’t really decided yet. I have had a lot of sponsors over the years, and some I have had basically since I started racing in the 90’s. I have been with Airtronics since about 1993. A lot of brands have stepped up over the years and just pumped such high quality products out that it is hard to choose one over the other. Most of my sponsors as of now are related to motocross or my Photography business like Nikon, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Scott, Hammerhead designs, Leo Vince, Galfer, Work Connection, Mishimoto, Matrix Concepts, Felt Bicycles and Sony Action Cam. I’m not really sure how I’m going to get them more involved in R/C, but will give it my best to represent them in all aspects.
LiveRC: What are your goals this time around in R/C? Are you looking to make it a career once again?
Jason: NO! Defiantly not looking for a career change anytime soon. My goals haven’t been set yet. I wouldn’t mind attempting to attend the 2014 IFMAR 1/8th worlds. But I’m not sure if that is a reasonable goal. For now I want to take the PSR1 out to 702 Raceway here in Vegas, win some club races, get the car to be more popular here in Vegas. And in 2014 maybe race at the Nitro Challenge and Silverstate, maybe the Roar Nationals. We shall see. Can I beat drivers like Ty Tessman and Ryan Maifield? No way! They are machines! I watched the Nationals on LiveRC this year and couldn’t believe how few of mistakes these guys make. Do I think I have the raw speed that they do, yes I do. Maybe I will just show up to races and try to do the fastest lap? Maybe we can make a fastest lap award? I’ll just go out during qualifiers and try to set one rocket lap, and then pull off. That should be a thing.
LiveRC: Aside from your results, you are famous for your Travis Pastrana themed paint jobs. When, where, and how did that become your signature scheme?
Jason: It actually came from doing a body for Travis Pastrana. A close friend of mine Tony Berluti was a factory mechanic for Suzuki for something like 16 years (hes the head mechanic now at Hart and Hunington). So I could always hangout in the Suzuki pits at supercross races. Well he mentioned one day that Travis wanted to get some R/C stuff. I was working for Richard Saxton at the time with TREADZ Tires. So Richard and I built up a car for Travis and had Thunder paint a body of Travis’s signature helmet. Travis was stoked and loved the car and I’m sure beat the hell out of it. Well I liked the body so much that I decided to switch from my old paint scheme (looked like Dylan Rodriguez scheme) to that as my paint scheme. Over the year many different people have painted it, and it has changed from the original one. But I like it. It suits me. Doug at BODZ did a Red White and Blue version for the 2004 IFMAR Worlds in Sweden, it is by far the sickest paintjob I have ever seen. Some of the paintjobs that guy used to do were works of art.
Jason: Ty Tessman, Ty Tessman, Ty Tessman, Ty Tessman, Did I mention Ty Tessman? The kid is a machine. I think they work harder, and are simply better than everyone else right now. But Tyler Vik did beat him at the Nationals this year. So I guess that makes Tyler Vik the fastest man alive.
(Samantha, Tyler, and Jason...the three best friends.)
(One photo of Tyler Vik would have probably been enough, but after receiving these additional photos of Tyler in his youth, we couldn't resist posting them for the world to see.)
Jason: Favorite person is by far Richard Saxton, we have raced together so much over the years, weather it is a club race, or a national. We just know how to race each other. There is going to be outside inside moves, and squaring each other up, and just a fun battle.
Least favorite, probably anyone with black rims. Because if you see black rims you know at some point that car is going to make a quad out of a triple and probably hit a turn marshal before having a “run away” and hitting a fence. Black wheels mean bad times are a brewing.
LiveRC: One thing most people don't know about Jason Ashton?
Jason: I’m a professional photographer.
LiveRC: What is the first major event we can expect to see you at?
Jason: See you at the Nitro Challenge in 2013!
LiveRC: Jason, thanks for joining us today, and we wish you the very best of luck in your return! Is there anything you would like to add?
Jason: This is going to be a serious thank you list. Over the years I have met some amazing people, and had some great sponsors and I really want to thank all of them; Gil Losi Sr., Gil Losi Jr, Mike and Steve Dunn(Race Prep), Kelly Lundsford(Lundsford Titanium), Everyone at Airtronics, Tekin, Patrick from Ballistic Batteries, Mike Reedy, Gene Hustings(Team Associated), Curtis Hustings(Team Associated), Kyosho, Mugen, John Paul (JP Engines), Craig Kaplan (Airtronics), Daniel Adams(Pro-line), Mark Pavidis(AKA), Scott Hughes, Jeff Eveleigh(XXX Main) Leo and Kelly Vik, Joe Guerzon, Andy Smolnik, Hobby-Pro USA, Agama, Chad Bradley, Richard Saxton, Jeremy Kortz, Donnie and Dylan Rodriguez heck the whole Rodriguez Family, Toby Robinson, Jason Ayers, Greg and Steve Antill, Doug von Mosch, Kenny and Jennifer Johnson,Taylor Peterson, Bobby Moore, Lance Norick, Kurt and Kyle Busch, my Brother from another mother Tyler Vik, Mike Kazz the best damn pitguy and friend anyone could have, and most importantly my family. My mom and dad, who started this ball rolling, and my amazing wife Samantha for supporting me and screaming her head off when I race.
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