Cubby Interview With Carlton Eppes of the RC Pro Series (Part 2)
Cubby sits down and chats with Carlton Eppes of the The RC Pro Series for a great several part interview.
Cubby– What’s the biggest problem you see with ROAR?
Carlton– I’ve made it a habit during my time with RC Pro to not talk about ROAR. I just wish some of their reps would do the same. I don’t promote RC Pro by running down everyone and everything else. I feel you should promote your product based on it’s merits not by trashing the competition.
Cubby– Is it the goal of RC Pro Series to surpass ROAR and become Americas premier rc sanctioning body?
Carlton– There is room for both organizations. They have their way of doing things and we have ours and from there it’s up to the racers to decide.
Cubby– With ROAR, it often takes months, even years, (sometimes it never happens) to approve new product or classes. RC Pro Series has always been ahead of the curve in that respect. I’ve seen you approve product a weekend after availability to the public. Do you think this is in the best interest of your racers?
Carlton– The racers we deal with are buying the products whether we make them legal or not. You know how the hot part of the week this industry is. Everything doesn’t get approved but in some instances trying to outlaw something just causes the racers to have to maintain certain items just for our series and eventually cost them more. It would be like trying to make everyone run spec classes……… they would have a lot of stuff they spent money on and can’t use so it wouldn’t save them money. Do I think some of these new things coming out are going to make racers faster? NO! I still maintain the best thing you can buy for whatever you drive is another gallon of fuel and get more practice.
Cubby– You personally attend most of the RC Pro Series events, and you personally meet and get to know every single racer at them. You treat local Joe Blow privateers with just as much respect as the fastest factory shoes. How do you remember all those names and faces (LOL)?
Carlton– I have no idea! LOL. Normally I suck with names but for some reason I have very good luck remembering a lot of the racers. Yes I treat everyone the same it doesn’t matter if it’s a factory guy or a 1^st timer in RC Pro. Honestly it’s the regular racer that makes RC Pro, not the factory guy. If we depended on factory racers we would only be able to put on one big race a year…..
Cubby– Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t most of your race entry fees under $50? How do you feel when you see local “trophy races” charging $60-$80 for a single entry? If you are charging $40 for an entry to one of your RC Pro Series races, how much goes to the racers?
Carlton– Yes we are still at $45 for the 1^st entry and $30 for each additional.
It’s been that price since RC Pro started. On one hand I can’t believe the entry fees now but on the other hand I understand it because costs go up every year on putting on events. I made the decision this year to maintain our pricing when everyone else is raising prices expecting less turnout.
My logic is I would rather see more people be able to afford to come race than charge less more money. As far as how much do the racers get? Last year we paid our $35,000 and the year before $40,000 in the US series alone. At most events the racers get back almost half or what RC Pro gets
from the event.
Cubby– Your nitro off-road series has always done fairly well. Your electric series has done very poorly. The electric races were held at strange times of the year, with nearly no exposure, few sponsors and even less racers. What’s the future of electrics with the RC Pro Series?
Carlton– The electric series was originally installed to run during the winter when
most everyone goes indoors. This also coincided with my burnout time at the end of the nitro season which probably had something to do with less promotion on my part. Also less companies really cared about advertising since the electrics were seen to be dropping off in popularity. Last year we tried to run the series all year but it didn’t make any difference. Even with being the 1^st to allow brushless and lipos they haven’t been the big savior of electrics yet. We are trying to put together an electric
winter series this year but so far we haven’t had much interest by the tracks and I think a lot of that has to do with most indoor tracks have gone to running nitro just to help keep the door s open so they aren’t getting enough electrics to sustain and electric only event. If we can’t make it happen this year we will drop the electric series idea.
Cubby– I saw early in the year you announced a National Championship Club Series. What is that and why?
Carlton– The introduction of the Short Course trucks (Slash) took the industry by
storm and offered a perfect chance for new people to get into the hobby/sport. We have been looking at ways to try and help the club level racing. We have to do something to bring racing back to the clubs and support the tracks or we won’t have places to race. The Slash is a perfect Spec vehicle which makes it cheap and fun to go club racing again. Of course now there are more companies coming out with short course stuff and for 2010 we will add an open class for all brands to run together. We can’t do it in mid season since a large majority of the tracks involved in the series are halfway through the points races now. The whole idea is to give racers a chance to run for a National
championship by racing at their local track and NOT needing to travel. RC Pro gets no money from these races it all, the money stays in the local tracks.
Cubby– To all the potential series sponsors out there, what does the RC Pro Series have to offer them, and who do they contact for more information?
Carlton– The RC Pro US National Series they get banner support at each division
race across the country and the finals (28 races this year), their logo on our scrolling website banner (over 1 million visits annually) and placement in our magazine ads generally Xtreme and RC Car. Cost is usually $100 a race or less for the full year.
Cubby– RC Pro Series generally gets very limited race coverage from the rc rags. In turn, that leaves very little incentive for all the bigger factory teams to attend more of your races. Have you been trying to acquire more media coverage? What’s it going to take to make your races a priority for the large factory teams?
Carlton– RC Pro gets limited coverage because the magazines can’t afford to send
someone to that many races around the country plus they can’t commit enough space monthly to cover all the RC Pro races. We do get coverage from Xtreme on the Finals every year. Ever wonder why so many west coast races are in the mags? Because that is home for them and they don’t have
to pay travel costs. I have been sending out press releases to the online news sites pretty regularly and that seems to be the best way to increase exposure for RC Pro events.
Carlton– Part of the problem with the big factory teams attending is the fact there
are way too many races they have to look at and they don’t like committing to run multiple races in a series they will have to travel for just to be able to qualify for the finals. This year in particular more teams are cutting back on travel unless they can find someone to pay their way. I can understand why years ago ROAR dropped qualifying through the regionals for the nats, I bet it had to do with the big teams not wanting to have to go to that many races to be able to race at the nats…… just
a guess on my part.
Cubby– You’ve been making small moves taking the RC Pro Series international. What’s your end goal there, to displace IFMAR?
Carlton– Once again there is room for both RC Pro and IFMAR. Groups from various countries have approached me in the last couple years because they feel they have been ignored or have no input with IFMAR so they are looking for options. RC Pro has tried in the past to contact IFMAR about participating in the seeding of the US team but we have yet to ever get a reply to our
attempts, so we decided to do our own thing. Much like the origins of RC Pro the group that started RC Pro felt a champion should be crowned by a series. I hold with that idea and go as far to say I feel a series should be used to crown a World or International Championship.
Cubby– Just how far do you think you can take this sport? Can you lure in “outside the industry” corporate sponsors? Can you ever take the sport close enough to the mainstream for regular television coverage of your big events? What’s it going to take to get our sport into the mainstream?
Carlton– It’s amazing how many people out there don’t know about our industry! That is one of the reasons for RC Pro doing the TORC events. We can show racing to a larger audience and get the RC Pro name out there and hopefully steer people to the racing side of the industry. Also it gives me the chance to network with some of the larger companies in racing and show them what we do.
Carlton– I know TV is possible but the catch is for the networks to take a
serious look we have to have a name sponsor. This would make them to think they could sell advertising around the program which is what it’s all about for them. The name sponsor is also going to be looking at how much TV time they can get, so it becomes a catch 22 in we need a name sponsor to get TV time but we need TV exposure to get the name sponsor. I’m constantly looking at new ways to make this happen and the only limit is money……..LOL.
Cubby– I doubt you’ve got to where you are now without lots of help, who
would you like to thank?
Carlton– As I eluded to early, I wasn’t the one who started RC Pro, but I keep
getting tagged that way. I bought RC Pro from the last remaining founder at the end of 2004, so I’m not sure if I should thank them or cuss them! LOL That would be Frosty St. Clair, Mike Battaile and Richard Saxton. Now to the present, I couldn’t do this without my wife! Mary puts up with me being gone over half the year and when I am home I spend all my days and most of the nights in front of my computer answering questions via email or phone and doing 90% of the updates, web design, press releases, shirt designs, award designs, shirt orders, awards orders and anything else that needs to be done. She travels with me to the races we can drive to and works just like me at these events. It’s most evident at the Finals every year since 2004. She makes herself sick with the hours and BS at
that event every year. All for no pay. PLUS she works a full time job to help pay the bills since RC Pro doesn’t cover them most of the time.
Carlton– In no particular order, I would also like to thank, David Lovett who is the State Series National Director plus handles the membership and permanent numbers assignments. Steve Webster who took on the task of an Onroad Series which didn’t work but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on his part, and he also has been a big part of the finals in 2006 & 2007. Dell Lanier for doing the
same with the Dirt Oval Series. Also Larry Thomason the Illinois State Director he also fills in for me at division events as well as being a major help in making the Finals happen every year since 2006. Dwayne “Dude” Lindler who takes care of the Northwest for me and traveled to the finals last year to help out. The new kid on the block is Kenny Rice, the Ohio State Director this year and is taking care of several races in the Great Lakes for me. Our Australia Director Paul Cornwell and the Canadian
directors Gary Fliegel, Joe Parent, Dan LeBlanc, Pierre Barbeau and Lawrence McCorrister. Our Caribbean Directors Rafa Sabatier and Francis Ortiz. There have been a lot of people help out over the years that I want to thank, just not enough space here to do it plus I don’t want to forget
Carlton– Next would be the racers who have supported RC Pro all these years. None of this would be possible or needed without them. The tracks who have supported us and hosted our races. There are so many good tracks out there and it’s a shame I can’t put a race at all of them. All our past and present sponsors. We’ve had a number that have been with us for a long time.
Carlton– Thanks for the chance to do this, hopefully it gives some insight to RC Pro and how things work, or just more for people to not believe. LOL
Cubby– Well thank you Carlton for taking the time out for an interview,
and also for your honest answers.
Make sure to hit the The RC Pro Series site and get involved!