Rick Hohwart is a legend in RC racing and has
a long list of accomplishments in both on- and
o;-road events that started way back in
the 1980s. He continues to race at the highest level and has ROAR National
and Reedy Race titles to his name and still takes time to compete on a fairly
regular basis. Now the department manager at Reedy, Rick handles the
racing electronics along with RTR and other consumer products at Reedy as
well as any electronics from Team Associated. Fortunately, Rick took some
time out of his busy day for a chat with us.
RC Car Action: When did you start racing, and what was your first car?
Rick Hohwart: It was 1982, with Team Associated 12E.
You went right into racing?
Yes. I decided I wanted to race. I built plastic models, and the catalog that had
plastic models had RC cars in it; I saw that it was right in Southern California
with the local tracks. I thought I wanted to get into that. I had some money
saved up from birthday gifts and grandparents, so I bought a 12E at Hobby
Shack, which was Hobby People in Fountain Valley at the time. Later, when
1/12-scale cars started to die out a bit and o;-road was the way to go, I
started Peak Performance and it seemed to make sense to race o;-road. So
I raced o;-road for quite a while, primarily from about 1991 on. I did that until
the touring car craze kind of hit around 2000, 2001. Touring Car became the
big class, so I started predominantly racing Touring Car.
When did you go pro?
Well, that’s a good question because, back in those days, what was considered a pro guy was di;erent. I consider Brian Kinwald the first pro guy. I
mean Joel Johnson probably got paid—it was hard to know since no one really
received a salary back then, until Brian Kinwald; I don’t think he had another
job. He was kind of the guy and was what I consider pro since that’s all he did.
He was a pro RC racer. I think Masami was a pro at that time too; I’m not sure.
But there were very few people making a living just racing. I had just started
Peak Performance when it started to take o;. Technically, you could say I was
getting paid to race at that time, in a way; I mean I had my company. But the
first time I probably considered myself pro was when I was paid to go to races;
that was one race in 1985. I ran Team Associated and I ran Reedy, and got paid
to go to a couple of races. But shortly after that, I started my company, and I
wasn’t a Team Associated–sponsored driver anymore.
It seems as if there was a gray area about what being a pro driver was in
Well, there was what we considered “pro level.” At that time, I would have
considered myself pro level, but I didn’t get money just to race because of
my job. When I first started racing for Team Associated again, I was a pro and
getting paid, and that was around 2006 or 2007, when Touring Car was still
pretty big. I had switched from Tamiya to Team Associated, and the main
reason to switch was that I was getting a paycheck just to drive. But even
then, I had another job; I couldn’t just live on that check alone.
What would you say are your most significant accomplishments in racing?
Probably the Reedy Race. It’s the hardest to win, and I won the Reedy O;-Road Race of Champions in 1992. ;at was the biggest race because Masami
Hirosaka was the dominant driver at the time, along with Cli; Lett—those
were the pro drivers. But to beat guys like that, at a race like that, was a huge
deal. ;e year before I won, I was still racing on-road pretty heavily, and I won
three on-road ROAR nationals. At the time, we had 1/12-scale 4-cell indoor;
6-cell, which was run outdoor, although it was run on carpet indoor [laughs];
and 1/10-scale 6-cell, which was called “Pro 10.” ;at was when Masami was
winning a lot of Worlds; I’d race against Masami and sometimes I’d outqualify
him or beat him. ;at was my heyday, I suppose—the early ’90s. ;ose were
probably the biggest races I won.
What were the early days of Peak Performance like?
In 1985, we went to the ROAR Nationals in Reno, and
What’s your favorite class to race now?
we had just started [the company]. I went with my
business partner at the time, and we were matching
batteries in the living room of his house and winding
motors in the garage. At [that year’s] Nationals, I
won Modified. ;at was a great kicko; since we had
motors and batteries that helped propel the company
forward immediately. It was cool, and I didn’t have to
worry about paying anyone’s way to the races. At
the time, you worked, made the stu;, and raced. ;e
interesting thing about that race [was], at the time,
I was sponsored by Team Associated and Reedy the year before, and they
had just come out with the 12L prototype; they used it at that Nationals, and
I was still using the old car—the 12i at the time—and I still won. It’s interesting
because I think Team Associated has history stu; on their website, and they
show me winning with a 12L, but I actually won with a 12i.
Touring Car. It’s the class I do best at, but I like the technical aspect of it—the
setup aspect. It’s kind of a precision thing—the car has to be right; they’re
interesting to work on, and they drive well. You can feel them when you drive.
O;-Road is a little like it because you can feel what the car is doing, but you
can really feel a touring car when you drive it. It’s like a slot car. In O;-Road, I
enjoyed it when I raced it a lot, but it’s become...I don’t want to say it’s become
complicated, but it’s becoming pretty complicated now, just because of the
tire options and surface di;erences. I think a lot of people like that, but I don’t
know if it’s good for the overall health of the hobby. With Touring Car, you
have carpet and you have asphalt, but for the most part, you are using the
same car. You don’t have di;erent versions of cars. ;e same thing with
1/12 scale—you have just one car. You don’t have to have a di;erent car with
di;erent transmission, di;erent servo, [and] di;erent type of battery for
di;erent surfaces. ✇
Team Associated, Reedy, PROTOform,