I remember meeting Jake Thayer when he started racing more than ten years ago, and watched as he rose rapidly through both the racing and social ranks within the industry; he netted a few notable finishes and quickly became friends with some of the fastest off-road racers in the country. Though most of the RC racing scene probably know Jake Thayer from his spot behind the counter at OCRC Raceway, his 17.5 Stock 2WD and 13.5 Stock 4WD wins at the Desert Classic — and multiple Reedy Race Open-class finals appearances — are a great reminder that he’s a stud behind the wheel, too. I reached out to Jake on Facebook to learn more about his life and RC career for this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday. (Cover photo: Team Yokomo)
Photo: Team Yokomo
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Jake Thayer: I’m 33 years old, from Huntington Beach, CA
AW: How did you get into RC, and how long have you been racing?
JT: I’ve been racing since August 2004, so almost 14 years. When I was 12, my cousin Abba passed down all of his R/C racing equipment, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Years later, I met a guy named Mike Truhe; he took me to SoCal Raceway, put a radio in my hand, and the rest is history!
AW: What do you do for work? Is it difficult to find time for practicing, racing and traveling to big events?
JT: I’m the store manager at OC_RC Raceway. While running the shop takes a lot of work, I’m still very fortunate to work and race at the same time. It’s very hard for me to travel, but with our track hosting 3 of the biggest events of the year — Reedy Race, JConcepts Stock Nationals (coming quickly!) and the Pro-Line Surf City Classic — I have my hands full at home!
AW: What made you decide to start attending big races and trying to attract sponsors?
JT: I was only club racing for a few months before I went to my first local big race, the Titus Invitational in 2005. I TQ’ed and won a couple of stock classes, and that got the ball rolling. Having Mike as a mentor early on definitely had its perks! He was instrumental in making me so fast so quickly, and I learned a lot from him.
AW: What’s your favorite track? Favorite big event? What different classes have you raced - and which is your favorite?
JT: My favorite track is OCRC of course! The JConcepts Stock Nationals ranks at the top of my list. I’ve raced literally everything, from 1/18-scale to 1/8-scale — but my favorite by far is 2WD modified buggy.
Photo: Team Associated
AW: How did you become such close friends with Ryan Maifield?
JT: I met Ryan while racing at SoCal with Mike, and we’ve been good friends since! I started traveling with him as his mechanic when I moved to Arizona in 2006, and that same year we won the 1/8-Scale ROAR Fuel Off-Road Nationals in North Carolina.
AW: What are your proudest RC moments?
JT: Winning the Nationals in 2006 with Ryan, for sure. I remember after the race in the pits, we were both in disbelief — just a couple of knucklehead kids won the biggest race of the year! That was wild.
AW: Do you have any goals for your RC career?
JT: Winning the Reedy Race would be a “drop the mic” goal for me I think, haha. That’s one of the hardest races in R/C racing in my opinion. I’ve gotten close, just haven’t sealed the deal.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
JT: I love to spend time with my wife, Ashley and my daughter, Hadley.
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
JT: The best part, honestly, is helping people and seeing positive results. There’s no better feeling than when somebody loves your setup, and their results improve on the track. To leave a positive impact on this hobby is my daily goal. Turn marshaling annoys me the most!
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
JT: Mike Truhe, Ryan Maifield, Theo Captanis, Frank Root, Jason Ruona, Brent Thielke, Joe Pillars, and Robert Black just to name a few. I’ve been very fortunate to have the help, guidance and support of some of the smartest people and best companies in this industry.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JT: I’d like to thank the people that support me: OCRC, Team Yokomo, JCconcepts, Hobbywing, Schuurspeed, A Main Hobbies, Protek RC, Stickit1, Sticky Kicks, RC Speed Secrets, Schelle, MIP, Hobby Action, and Wrench Sessions. I’d also like to thank my wife for putting up with my long hours at the track!