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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 two-time IFMAR World Champion Spencer Rivkin to discuss his career, the time off from racing, and more!
LiveRC: Welcome Spencer to this week’s edition of “Talk It Up Tuesday”. Let us start at the very beginning of your career. Who, what, when, where, how, and why did you get involved in R/C car racing to begin with?
SR: First off, I want to start by saying thank you for having me on. Gosh, such a long story to tell and a lot of people to thank and to be grateful for. I’m not gonna go into too much detail on this question because I am in the process of doing a cool Spencer Rivkin’s R/C Story Video, but I will say it all started when I was 8 when I saw a neighbor driving an RC10 in the streets. I couldn't stop asking my parents for an R/C car for my birthday coming up, and I ended up getting a Jato 3.3. Ever since I've been hooked and never looked back. My Dad and I started to locate tracks in Arizona, and went to a few and learned quickly I didn’t have the proper car to compete. So a year later I got a MBX5T and started club racing, and from there we’ve cherished all of the years that this hobby would forever change my life for the better.
LiveRC: What was your first major race win?
SR: My first major race win, was the 2013 Cactus Classic 13.5 Buggy class.
LiveRC: Who was your first sponsor?
SR: I believe it was Mugen Seiki.
LiveRC: At what point did you decide that you wanted to make a career out of racing R/C cars?
SR: Being so young and having big dreams, every birthday party I had since 10 years old, I would wish when blowing out the candles of being a professional R/C driver.
LiveRC: If you were not racing R/C cars, what would you most likely be doing for a career right now?
SR: I always Liked figuring out things and trying to solve something, so probably a lawyer.
LiveRC: You are a multi-time World Champion, which is no easy task. Which World Championship win is more meaningful to you and why – the first or the second?
SR: Great question, its tough to say which one is more meaningful because they were achieved so differently. I'm going to choose based off difficulty. I would say the second one in Slovakia, because there were more expectations than my first one, and the home field advantage that XRAY had over everyone else.
LiveRC: You have multiple National Championship wins in various classes in addition to your World Championships. Is there one class that you would say is your favorite or that you specialize in?
SR: I truly like all the classes I race, but if I had to choose I’d pick the 2wd Modified Buggy Class. Its simply one of the most competitive classes and most difficult to drive.
LiveRC: With the country shut down from Covid-19, and all major races during this time either postponed or cancelled, how has this changed your routine and responsibilities as a pro driver?
SR: Honestly, I feel my routine and responsibilities haven’t changed. I'm still in contact day by day with my sponsors working on future products, projects, ideas and videos. I’ve also been lucky enough to get some private practice to test and develop and keep me sharp in the time being.
LiveRC: Not all drivers are active or involved with social media under normal circumstances, but lately we have seen more of them as social media has become a key tool for creating how-to videos, product spotlight videos, question and answer sessions, and so on. When racing resumes, do you think the increased social media presence and interaction with fans will continue for most pros?
SR: It's been awesome seeing everyone putting in time on social media. It's making us be more creative than ever, and I feel we will learn from this. I think some people are only doing it now because they are made to by their sponsors. When we return to racing, I hope the people that started doing more social media in this off period will continue helping this awesome community. We truly have some great people in this industry and together we are stronger and that’s what we need to focus on.
LiveRC: What race each year do you look forward to the most, and why?
SR: I'm just pumped to go back to club racing at Hobby Action and seeing everyone. Ha! But for event wise, I would say the ROAR Nationals for 1/8 and 1/10. LET’S GOOOO!!!!!
LiveRC: If you could only pick one driver, who do you feel is your biggest competition at any event that you both attend?
SR: Ryan Maifield.
LiveRC: What is some advice that you can give to up and coming racers who want to be the next Spencer Rivkin?
SR: Pursue Your Dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. But no matter what you want to achieve its going to take 100% effort and lots of sacrificing. You might miss friend's birthday parties or school parties. Believe me it was hard, but I knew what I wanted and proving to myself I can achieve anything I put my mind to was ultimately the best feeling, and everything I may have missed while trying to achieve what I wanted doesn't even stand a chance to that feeling of success. You have to challenge yourself and there’s no easy path. Stay positive and always believe in yourself. If I can do it, you can do it ;).
LiveRC: What hobbies and interests do you have outside of R/C?
SR: I enjoy checking out new food places. Having cook outs with friends and sitting back by the pool and enjoying life. Anything that involves competition is a hobby for me haha!
LiveRC: Most embarrassing moment as a professional racer?
SR: The only way to get embarrassed is if you care if people are laughing at you and I don’t care what people think. I care if people are trying to give me advice or help.
LiveRC: One thing most people do not know about Spencer Rivkin?
SR: I had super bad anxiety growing up and being in this industry meeting people and racing has truly been the best help beating my fears.
LiveRC: Thank you so much for joining us today Spencer. Keep up the good work on all of your social media videos, and we certainly hope to get back racing soon to see you battling out front. Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
SR: Thank you so much for having me. It's always pleasure being on. Of course I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting because with out them, none of this could have become a reality. Stay safe everyone and stay positive! See you guys soon!
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