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Word of Wheels #5: Big shoes to fill at AE | RCNews.net - RC Car News Word of Wheels #5: Big shoes to fill at AE – RCNews.net – RC Car News

Word of Wheels #5: Big shoes to fill at AE

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big shoes

Remember when you were a kid, and you’d put on your dad’s shoes – your feet were way too small to fill such big shoes… After a choppy few months for Team Associated, they’ve been in the ‘tabloid headlines’ once again it would seem as they look to fill the gaping void left by star driver Ryan Maifield’s sudden departure for arch rivals TLR.

shoes2
(Photo by Tony Sanders)

How does one go about filling the big shoes left behind by Maifield ? Well if anyone can, 27x World Champions Team Associated will be the ones. While there are hundreds and hundreds of drivers that could be an asset to AE, we take a speculative look at some major names that could reasonably join the team…filling those shoes.

Two of the hottest drivers in America right now are Ty Tessmann and Dakotah Phend. While ANY team would gladly accept these drivers (or at least we would), and some are predicting a move from one of these two, we highly doubt that. Both Tessmann and Phend are key ‘cogs’ and the “backbone” of their current teams. Not to mention have very close relationships on and off the track with their current factory sponsors.

battle
(Maifield, Tessmann, Wernimont, and Cavalieri go four-wide at the ROAR Nats)

Team Associated has a knack for picking up the next ‘big thing’ in driving talent. For example Spencer Rivkin, or Tanner Denney. When these two drivers signed with AE, they were known very little outside their hometown crowd, and are now known for winning races around the nation. While he is not a new driver to the scene, one driver who has REALLY stepped up the pace this year is Carson Wernimont. Wernimont is currently a Schumacher 1/10 driver and a Mugen Seiki 1/8 driver. His major successes have come in the 1/8 scale department for 2014, which is exactly what AE needs. While people may say the Associated’s RC8 program is ‘struggling’, Maifield had no trouble – narrowly missing the ROAR 1/8 Nationals victory with it…which in our eyes say its good enough to win the Nationals. This would be the complete package of 1/10 and 1/8 offroad vehicles for Wernimont, and while his feet may be a little smaller than Ryan’s at this point…we have high expectations that he has the potential to grow into the big shoes left behind.

AT4_0651-XL
(Carson Wernimont looks deep across the enormous Thornhill Racing Circuit)

A Main Hobbies and Mugen Seiki driver, Drew Moller, is another driver who has stepped up the pace for 2014. Moller, with some impressive results at recent events, currently has the freedom to run any 1/10 chassis A Main Hobbies sells, and uses Mugen for 1/8. If willing to leave this freedom, Moller like Wernimont, may not have the resume that Maifield has YET, but he is another name that cannot be discounted as someone with the talent to fill the shoes. However missing the nats in Texas leaves questions unanswered.

drewmo(Moller takes JBRL win ahead of Adam Drake and Cody King)

Mugen Seiki’s rising superstar Barry Pettit has won numerous 1/8 events around the country, and put in an A-Main run at the recent ROAR Nationals. Pettit has been a dedicated Mugen driver for several years, and isn’t known for his 1/10 scale racing, however, this does not necessarily knock him out of contention as a possible signing option for the AE team.

Barry
(Barry looks on as he chases the A-Main at the 2014 ROAR 1/8 Nationals)

Serpent has stormed the offroad scene here in America, much thanks to the impressive showings of up-and-coming Joe Bornhorst. Bornhorst has proven already that he can run with the best of them, and finished 3rd in the 2014 ROAR 1/8 E-Buggy Nats. Like the others mentioned, Joe may not be to “Maifield status” just YET, but as we mentioned AE is good at finding the sport’s future stars long before others and nurturing talent.

bornhorst
(
Bornhorst stands along side Ryan Maifield on the 2014 CRCRC podium)

Kyosho America has been doing some new driver signing of their own lately, example being Matt Chambers. Are these just welcome additions to the team, or could they be letting someone go soon? While Kyosho has many great drivers, most notable that could fill Ryan Maifield’s shoes at Team Associated would be Cody King and Jared Tebo. Tebo, a former AE driver, has signed a 5-year contract with Kyosho, therefore we doubt a return to AE will happen anytime soon. Cody King is an IFMAR World Champion in 1/8 scale, but has lacked the major victories in the 1/10 scale department. Ryan Cavalieri (a 1/10 IFMAR World Champion) seems to be winning almost any 1/10 scale race he enters, but has yet to put in the desired results in 1/8 scale for 2014. If AE were to pair up Cody King and Ryan Cavalieri, could that give them the IFMAR World Championship winning team in BOTH departments that they might be looking for?

NEO_4019-XL(Cody King moments after winning the 2010 IFMAR 1/8 World Championship in Pattaya)

On the flip side of all the speculation as to who will take Maifield’s spot at AE, perhaps the answer is no one. Team Associated has a fresh lineup of vehicles hitting production, and with that being said, the amount of money spent to sign a driver like Maifield can certainly go a long way in research and development of these new cars. Without Maifield, Team Associated only has two drivers in the Top25RC rankings (Ryan Cavalieri and Yannick Aigoin), HOWEVER, that does NOT mean they don’t have a strong team. A world championship win is what every manufacturer is after, and AE STILL HAS a world championship winning team with Ryan Cavalieri, Neil Cragg, Steven Hartson, and a long list of others very capable of stepping up to the plate at any time.

EUR_2849-XL
(Hartson celebrates yet another World Championship victory for Team Associated)

There are a LOT of fast up-and-coming, and current top drivers not mentioned here, BUT these are the drivers we feel would most likely be chosen to “fill the shoes” left behind by Ryan Maifield…that is if Associated chooses to do so.

Who do YOU think Team Associated will sign to fill the shoes? Share your thoughts and comments below!