Speed, thrills, and spills without the dangers

Two local racers get their kicks with joy sticks
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Messenger
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Auto racing is one of America’s favorite pastimes, but it can be both expensive and dangerous. However, two local racers have found a way to not only enjoy participating in the sport, but doing it at a minimum of cost or risk. Todd Pearson, Lincoln, has been racing radio controlled vehicles for over 20 years. A self-employed businessman, Building8 RC Products, Pearson has found a way to keep himself, and his family, happy by participating in RC Racing. Pearson is not only an RC racer, but he’s a promoter of the hobby/sport and mentor to others who would like to try it. That’s how he met his friend and fellow racer, TJ Wickum of Rocklin. Wickum, too, was into the hobby of radio controlled vehicles and decided to try his hand at racing. He met up with Pearson and the two became fast friends. “While at SpeedWorld Raceway I asked for advice,” said Wickum of his first encounter with Pearson at a competition in Roseville. “Todd really ended up taking me in. He has really been a huge help with me.” Wickum works as a house painter, and like Pearson is married. Wickum has one child and Pearson two. The two spend a lot of time together when not earning a living and they travel extensively throughout Northern California racing, and promoting the sport. They met up with former Sacramento Kings’ player Brad Miller who also had taken up RC racing. Miller, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves but lives in Granite Bay, started his own racing team called BMiller Racing. He was impressed by the skills and enthusiasm displayed by Pearson and Wickum, and since they lived in the area, Miller asked them to race for his team. Pearson expressed his appreciation for Miller’s support, and that of A Main Hobby, who also sponsors them. “They’ve really helped us a lot this year getting us into these bigger races and making us a lot more competitive,” said Pearson. Both Pearson and Wickum also extended their appreciation to their respective families for putting up with their travels, and the money they spend on their hobby. However, they both were quick to point out the expense wasn’t really that great. Wickum said the initial cost to get into RC Racing was about $250 to purchase a car and the controls. After that, the rest of the cost comes from travel expenses, which he and Pearson share. Many of their trips are just one day events, and when they do stay overnight they sometimes do so in an RV or stay with friends or family. Pearson said he is now recruiting anyone who might want to try the sport. He said the numbers of racers has fallen off and he doesn’t want to see RC Racing go in that direction. “If the sport doesn’t get new people in it’s not going to grow,” said Pearson. “People always come and they go.” Pearson said the biggest problem the sport has is with frustration. He said many newcomers are used to running their cars in large areas; when they get on the narrow tracks of RC Racing they have trouble controlling their cars. Wickum said he finds the off-road tracks to be more difficult because of the vehicle’s tendency to slide. When he races on the asphalt he can control his vehicle better. “Off road is definitely a little tougher to drive,” Wickum said, and added that playing video games does help a driver improve his or her hand-eye coordination. “On road is more sticky and the car doesn’t slide as much. On road really helps me improve my driving.” Both drivers have a number of victories to their credit, but neither indicated it was all about winning. They enjoy the atmosphere of RC Racing and meeting new people wherever they go. They’re always ready to help anyone new, and that can sometimes mean a victory for a first-time driver. “Racing with Todd we spread out and try to help others,” Wickum said. “It’s fun to share the experience.” They also said the cars can be modified to go faster, but Pearson said a smoother drive is better than speed. He said too much speed can lead to loss of control and that’s often where the frustration sets in. Anyone interested in finding out more about the fun of RC Racing can contract Pearson by e-mail:, telephone: (916) 572-2872, or go online to