Behind the scenes with Bill Jeric

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The R/C industry is full of legendary drivers, industry icons, innovators and inventors, business gurus, and the list goes on. One man whose played the role of everything from successful racer to company President is none other than Bill Jeric. In the spring of 2013, Bill made a low-key personal statement on Facebook, announcing that he had parted ways from Losi, having been President of the RC heavyweight since October 2007. Since that time, Bill has been hard at work behind the scenes creating a company of his own (Tuning Haus), promoting races, and racing once again. We caught up with the industry icon for a chat to hear the latest in the world of Bill!

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RCN: Thank you for joining us today Bill, it’s been awhile since we’ve had the chance to chat! What is new in the world of Mr. Bill Jeric?

Bill: Lots of things, Mike! Since my departure from Horizon a little over two years ago, I’ve been busy building a company with new brands (Tuning Haus and Prime R/C) as well as consulting and marketing services for clients. It’s been an interesting journey from the corporate business environment to hanging out my own shingle, even in such a small industry like ours.

RCN: Tell us a bit about the latest happenings at Tuning Haus. What’s new in the ‘Haus’?

Bill: I really enjoy racing F1 cars, and the category continues to gather attention from both traditional supporters like Tamiya to newcomers in the class like X-Ray and Yokomo. There’s never been more or better choices available to racers wanting to enjoy the fun that F1 delivers.

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RCN: Your primary focus with Tuning Haus has been F1 racing, but you have branched out a bit with products that apply to not only other on road classes, but off-road as well. Do you plan to extend the Tuning Haus product line more into the touring car and off-road racing scene?

Bill: My goal was to first establish credibility for the Tuning Haus brand within the community of F1 enthusiasts. I viewed the category as having opportunities for a new brand plus I really enjoy tuning and driving them. I feel that I’m on the right path toward doing that, so my next step was to expand into general on road and touring car products. The response to our products for the Associated TC 6.2 have been gratifying, and it’s fun for me to race touring cars again after so many years. In respect to off-road, I try to never say never but it’s difficult for me to envision having the time to support customers of both disciplines.

SoCal Scale Series Report

RCN: Aside from Tuning Haus and your personal racing, you have also taken on the SoCal R/C Scale Series. Can you tell us a little about the new series, and what makes it so different than your traditional carpet racing series?

Bill: My goal was to first establish credibility for the Tuning Haus brand within the community of F1 enthusiasts. I viewed the category as having opportunities for a new brand plus I really enjoy tuning and driving them. I feel that I’m on the right path toward doing that, so my next step was to expand into general on road and touring car products. The response to our products for the Associated TC 6.2 have been gratifying, and it’s fun for me to race touring cars again after so many years. In respect to off-road, I try to never say never but it’s difficult for me to envision having the time to support customers of both disciplines.

SCSS at the track a

RCN: The SoCal Scale Series appears to be growing quite quickly. What are the plans for the series? Perhaps branch outside of just Southern California?

Bill: The SoCal RC Scale Series grew out of a desire to continue racing scale-looking RC cars in a unique format when a similar series for Formula 1 cars (only) faded away. My friend Kevin Cole and I have joined together and enlisted the help of a small group of dedicated people to deliver a race day that delivers lots of track time in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. A driver in our events running just one class receives 33 minutes of on-the-clock competition time during a race day that usually spans less than ten hours at a cost of $25. Contrast that with other events that only offer 10-15 minutes of total competition time during a much longer day and for a significantly higher entry fee.

In regards to branching outside of SoCal, if there is demand for this type of racing I’m sure that promoters will step up to fill the void, much like when I worked on the team that introduced 1/8 buggy racing to the USA back in the early 1990’s. It was difficult at that time to get racers and tracks interested in these big, heavy, noisy, smelly things that the Europeans and Asians were racing but we Americans knew little about. I think it’s funny to reflect on that now, and use it for inspiration when the critics sound off at me.

Yatabe

RCN: The IFMAR 1/10 off road World Championships are just around the corner at Yatabe Arena in Japan. The hot topic is the ALL astro surface. What is your opinion, is this still true off-road racing?

Bill: I believe that yes, it’s still off-road racing. Of course, I am biased after having the opportunity to race off-road in the UK on a circuit made from carpet, astro, and wood and it was really fun. Yet, I can also understand the viewpoint of the racing purist that might feel that off-road means dirt and dirt only.

Lee Martin EOS

RCN: With the unique conditions, who do you expect to win the 2wd and 4wd championships?

Bill: Gee, thanks for putting me on the spot, Mike! No doubt Lee Martin looks strong as do many drivers that call Yatabe their home track. I think Cavalieri, Tebo, and Maifield will be right there. Kody Numendahl was a revelation at the warm-up race, wasn’t he? My dark horse is Martin Bayer. He races everything on any surface and is usually in the hunt for a podium.

Warm Up Changes

RCN: Do you feel this event will boost the popularity of carpet/astro off-road racing in America?

Bill: I hope it does, as it can open a lot of doors to potential track facilities by eliminating the aspect of dust and dirt. I feel that those with strong opinions against carpet or astro should reserve comment until first trying it.

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RCN: You have been a part of development and design, as an American manufacturer, how much time, money, and effort do you put into adapting your current vehicles to suit this surface (despite it be so rare in America)?

Bill: (Laughing) now there’s a loaded question! It depends on the specific manufacturers and what they hope to achieve other than winning a title of course. In my opinion, some brands race simply out of passion for the sport while other brands may have to justify their involvement to corporate boards. Just like in real racing. Any World Championship results from a magic stew of teamwork, resources, timing, and sometimes a dose of good luck. I recall watching Mike Truhe come up ½ second short of Hara for the 2008 1/8 buggy world title and that was tough. It wasn’t our time, it was time for Hara and HB.

F1

RCN: Speaking of World Championships, let’s talk on road World Championships. The F1 class is considered by many to be the ‘short course of on road’, as it is new, growing quickly, and is seeing more and more world-class talent participating in it. What do you think it will take to see an F1 World Championship class added to the roster?

Bill: Comparing F1 to short course is an interesting analogy Mike, but I’d have to suggest that short course became popular because virtually anyone from six to sixty could get involved. Not so with F1. I think it’s going to take a bit more time to get global regulations, tire spec, and other things sorted to the level seen with 1/10 touring cars prior to talking about anything approaching the level of a Worlds. What I hope to see through F1 is different than the enjoyment that touring cars provide. F1 cars do not like to be driven hard and really respond well when driven smoothly. I takes some practice to do this in traffic so I am looking for ways to make F1 cars a bit more drivable for newcomers.

F1 Podium (1)

RCN: For many, F1 racing is an extremely unknown territory. For those unfamiliar, what is so appealing (besides the stunning good looks) about R/C F1 racing? Why is it worth spending the money to do?

Bill: At the very least, for drivers in other categories of on road or even off road vehicles, I think that F1 cars teach throttle control and smooth driving technique that can be transferred to their other cars. Comparative to some other classes, F1 is relatively easy on the budget once startup costs are finished. Batteries, electronics, motors and chassis last a long time and chassis don’t eat parts or tires at the rate of some other competition classes. Additionally, F1 rewards minimizing mistakes, and contact is a mistake regardless of initial fault. So I like a category where racing clean is rewarded with good race results.

Summer Party Main

RCN: That is enough for us, we’re on our way to the hobby shop as we speak! Before we go, can you give us perhaps a hint or sneak peek of what might be in the works at Tuning Haus?

Bill: Well, with outdoor season in full swing the Tuning Haus Summer Party events have been so far well received. My team is already working on details for season #2 of the SoCal RC Scale Series, and also involved in the 12 heures du Tamiya on October 3. That’s just the racing side, on the product side there’s an entire assortment of new items in the development pipeline.

Bill Jeric

RCN: Bill, thank you again for taking some time out with us today, we certainly hope to chat again soon!

Bill: Mike, it’s been my pleasure speaking with you and congratulation to you and Britani on your recent engagement, best wishes for a long and happy life together.