The Talent Tank

EP 19 Erik Miller

March 30, 2020 Erik Miller Episode 31
The Talent Tank
EP 19 Erik Miller
Chapters
The Talent Tank
EP 19 Erik Miller
Mar 30, 2020 Episode 31
Erik Miller

A play on the triumph and losses in performance and life.  The Talent Tank podcast will navigate the inner workings of lifestyle, lives, family, teams, careers, programs, and technology in and around the offroad motorsports industry.  What breeds success with your Talent Tank on full, failures when its on empty.  From the journey to the Starting Line to take that Green Flag, on to exploring trials and tribulations on and off the track in pursuit of victorious achievement and the Checkered Flag.

Two time King, and quite possibly the best ULTRA4 Racing @ultra4racing driver for the past decade, Miller Motorsports, Erik Miller @21erikmiller.  As an east coast racer hailing out of Cumberland, MD it comes as a shock to most that he is so wickedly accomplished and successful nationwide.  With 15 years in rock sports, a business building championship winning off-road racing cars, and the key-holder to the success of the solid axle four wheel drive platform in an era when everyone swears you have to have independent suspension or be relegated to losing.  Erik is a giant among men.  Who's the only competitor to finish every single King of the Hammers 4400 race since his first in 2010?  This guy, and he hasn't finished outside the Top 4 in six years.  So yes, you could say this is an exciting and insightful interview, settle in for a long stroll through the halls of Miller Motorsports and what its taken to build the dynasty that you have to go through if you want to win in ULTRA4.   

After the Checkered Flag-
Covid19: People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
People may experience: cough, fever, tiredness, difficulty breathing (severe cases)
Source:  World Health Organization

Headshot Provided by: Alan Johnson at White Collar Publishing

Brought to you by:
Custom Splice www.customsplice.com for all of your recovery equipment needs, they are your one stop shop.
Branik Motorsports Custom Machine www.branikmotorsports.com is a full-service machine shop with one off and production capabilities that prides themselves on quality, service and value.
Magnitude Performance www.magnitudeperformance.com a Mast Motorsports Company www.mastmotorsports.com.  Magnitude is a Made in the USA manufacturer of premium chrome silicon coil-over suspension springs.

Please like & subscribe.
https://www.thetalenttank.com/
https://www.instagram.com/thetalenttank/
https://www.facebook.com/thetalenttank
Insiders Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheTalentTankInsiders/ 

Show Notes Transcript

A play on the triumph and losses in performance and life.  The Talent Tank podcast will navigate the inner workings of lifestyle, lives, family, teams, careers, programs, and technology in and around the offroad motorsports industry.  What breeds success with your Talent Tank on full, failures when its on empty.  From the journey to the Starting Line to take that Green Flag, on to exploring trials and tribulations on and off the track in pursuit of victorious achievement and the Checkered Flag.

Two time King, and quite possibly the best ULTRA4 Racing @ultra4racing driver for the past decade, Miller Motorsports, Erik Miller @21erikmiller.  As an east coast racer hailing out of Cumberland, MD it comes as a shock to most that he is so wickedly accomplished and successful nationwide.  With 15 years in rock sports, a business building championship winning off-road racing cars, and the key-holder to the success of the solid axle four wheel drive platform in an era when everyone swears you have to have independent suspension or be relegated to losing.  Erik is a giant among men.  Who's the only competitor to finish every single King of the Hammers 4400 race since his first in 2010?  This guy, and he hasn't finished outside the Top 4 in six years.  So yes, you could say this is an exciting and insightful interview, settle in for a long stroll through the halls of Miller Motorsports and what its taken to build the dynasty that you have to go through if you want to win in ULTRA4.   

After the Checkered Flag-
Covid19: People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
People may experience: cough, fever, tiredness, difficulty breathing (severe cases)
Source:  World Health Organization

Headshot Provided by: Alan Johnson at White Collar Publishing

Brought to you by:
Custom Splice www.customsplice.com for all of your recovery equipment needs, they are your one stop shop.
Branik Motorsports Custom Machine www.branikmotorsports.com is a full-service machine shop with one off and production capabilities that prides themselves on quality, service and value.
Magnitude Performance www.magnitudeperformance.com a Mast Motorsports Company www.mastmotorsports.com.  Magnitude is a Made in the USA manufacturer of premium chrome silicon coil-over suspension springs.

Please like & subscribe.
https://www.thetalenttank.com/
https://www.instagram.com/thetalenttank/
https://www.facebook.com/thetalenttank
Insiders Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheTalentTankInsiders/ 

Intro/Outro :

Let's drop the green flag on this episode of the talent tank podcast. With your host Wyatt Pemberton bringing you the best, fastest, most knowledgeable personalities and ultra for and off road racing.

Wyatt Pemberton :

This episode of the talent tank brought to you by three amazing partners, custom splice offered recovery equipment, briny motor sports custom machine, and magnitude performance a mass motor sports company. Enjoy. Alright everybody, welcome back to the talent tank. This is the second episode and return after King of the hammers. This will be Episode 19. We have Eric Miller sitting in with us this morning. Good morning, Eric. How are you?

Erik Miller :

Good Wyatt. How about yourself?

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, actually, it's like afternoon your time. That's where we're at split like Midwest time versus central versus Eastern. And you're all the way up in in Maryland. Tell me about how does it go? from Maryland in racing all the way up on the west coast in the desert.

Erik Miller :

That's funny. You say we're all the way up in Maryland. I went to school up in Pennsylvania, and they thought we were Southern. All the way down down far that far in Maryland, you know. So I've been called everything because we're right near the Mason Dixon line. How does a guy like me start racing out west? Man? That's a great question. I think it all revolves around the current series and running out so for kind of pulled me out there and it all stems from that 2009 RC q that's really where it all came came from.

Wyatt Pemberton :

That's what will Gentile said he when we had him on, he said a lot of his life and trajectory. That was the inflection point for him was RC q coming to Ross Creek.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I listen to wills. And it was funny because it was a kind of a trip down memory lane. And you forget all that stuff. Because I mean, it was over 10 years ago at this point, which it seems like a lifetime, but it seems like yesterday at the same time, so yeah, it was really for a lot of us here on the east, the RC queue because there was no real Um, I don't know. It was a West Coast thing. It was kind of something we knew of and watched you know through pirate But it wasn't a reality. And it was still so small that I didn't even really think I'd ever have a chance to do it. But that RCU kind of popped up out of nowhere. And you know, 10 of us got the chance.

Wyatt Pemberton :

We're gonna dig into that inflection point for you, because that changed your life and trajectory for exactly the last 10 years. Man, what about the times that we're in right now? COVID-19 isn't impacting you guys yet.

Unknown Speaker :

It's crazy. I mean, without social media, I would say no, but I mean, we're so we're all so immersed in that these days. It's a really our way to stay connected. I mean, it's the reason things like this are, are so popular. And, you know, we can keep this network especially in the industry connected. I live where I live for a reason. I was lucky to be born here, Western Maryland. It's a smaller town. cumberlands like, you know, I haven't looked in years but it used to be about 20,000 people, it's probably down to 20. Now, but we you know, everything you need, but at the same time, like where I live and where my shop is. I don't really have to see anybody if I don't want to and that's kind of nice. We have good neighbors. Good people. But at the same time like this COVID-19 It almost seems from our standpoint, like it's not a reality yet because it hasn't hit West Virginia was the last state to get a confirmed case. And I think that was just yesterday, the day before. And then us up here in Western Maryland. I don't know if we have a confirmed case yet. So where the outlier from the larger urban areas of Baltimore DC, and they're only two hours, but at the same time you asked, you know, any anybody down there and every other person doesn't know where Cumberland Maryland is? So we're a tourist town. We're in the mountains. So it's almost this western part of the state region. It's almost like another state to those people down there. Everything kind of ends at Hagerstown or Frederick for them.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I gotcha. Yeah, you guys are very secluded out there. Not as not as secluded and desolate as say, Bleiler where he's at in Pennsylvania, but you're close.

Unknown Speaker :

Josh is in the middle of nowhere. When I first went to his shop, I just said, How is this here? You know, it's worse. Worse than me because he is such a big operation. Mine's mind small. But uh, yeah, you know, I think had to laugh about that, but it's the same kind of story for sure.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I gave him a hard time. Like, do you employ all of the county like this every working body in that county work for you? And it's kind of kind of yes and no,

Unknown Speaker :

it's kinda Yeah. And there's not a lot of work opportunities in those valleys. Like if you look at the topography of Pennsylvania, it tells a story and that's kind of the stuff I'm interested in to write because it all revolves around you know, seeing new things and racing you know, places like that where I live I live literally a stone's throw from the Pennsylvania line in Maryland. So I'm I can almost see West Virginia and I can see Pennsylvania right now out my window. And that's funny because the way the Appalachian mountains around they run in this this curve up toward like New York through Pennsylvania. And literally, that's how all the routes run. And Josh is like, right up the road. I mean, he's not that far, but to get there, because there's biographies like three hours, and so it's the same kind of thing in those valleys like those guys have to drive a good way if you didn't get down to Harrisburg or up to like, you know, Danville Sunbury area. work so most of them are find employment right there as close as they can home and babies a major employer in that area.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So I saw yesterday, whichever one's gonna, you know, they're gonna listen to this, you know, in a week or so. So for everyone listening to this, so a week ago, we saw Jesse Haynes came out and he believes that he's COVID-19 positive, they didn't have testing kits for him, but, and for me that he's really the first case of somebody that I know and could put my finger on and the guy's numbers in my phone and I can text him and be like, Dude, are you okay?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I saw that too. Again, social media. I mean, Jesse and I were, we're not super close, but we're good friends. You know, I've known him pack as long as I've been doing this since I was a kid going out to like the new rock events in the Badlands, that data in Attica. And yeah, so Jesse is the first one that I personally know as well, but it's not the I would say the closest to me actually one of my teammates Scott Decker. He works down in Northern Virginia so that again, DC area last week, he found out that someone is office who sits, you know, a desk away from him was confirmed case. So it's real. It's no joke. You know, I think all these precautionary measures that hack the feds are taken and you know, our local legislators taking are important and they're serious. But again, it's really hard to look at this whole thing and not be super naive about it and realize that this

Erik Miller :

can be a little bigger than, than all of us.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, yeah, I know when Dave and JT and Ryan Thomas came out. It feels like a year ago when this happened, but I know it was 10 days ago. So from the time everyone listens, it'll be like 17 days ago or something when they canceled the stampede race and how much heat they took right off the bat. And it was like, wow, from my standpoint, I was like, dude, I think that's the smartest thing they've done in a long time. And then the very next day, the state comes out and says they're killing anything that had, you know, gatherings of over 250 people and now we're at a situation just everyday is evolving this down the groups of 10 or 10 or More. No, don't do it. And even if you're in under 10, stately, six feet apart, it's just insane. The Times that we're living in it feels I don't know, man if it feels like 911. But in slow motion, like,

Unknown Speaker :

that's a great way to put it. And to touch back on the first floor is cancellation being from the east, right? I wasn't, it wasn't on my calendar to go out to. I mean, we were on the whole West Coast championship and in 2016, so I've done it all. I know what what goes into racing, you know, from Maryland in California, and not only kayo Ah, and and Reno, but the entire series, I have to respect them and applaud them because from a guy like me standpoint, yeah, at first, you're like, wow, we really canceled that race proactively before anything kind of shakes out. And then, you know, I kind of had a conversation with Leah about it. And she's like, yeah, think about, you know, if we were traveling out there right now and getting ready for that race, the impact that it could have if they waited and waited and waited, and the state shut them down. What a day or two before the race attack. We'd be in Kansas by them. You know, it could really be Turn people's lives upside down more so that already has. So I think that that was the right call. I know a lot of people in the sport and the industry were kind of, you know, upset about it. Because, you know, let's be honest, a lot of us are skeptics about this kind of stuff. And you know, big brother had been an issue and the government having too much reach in power, but at the same time, hopefully, we've done enough soon enough, and I got to give ultra four credit for kind of taking it on the chin with that one, it was the right call. And I think it'll be really interesting to see how the rest of the season shakes out because one of the biggest things that I saw come out of that was people already crying and complaining that it was going to be unfair for the guys race in the east. They had an extra race on top of it, and it's like, Guys, it's like the day after the cancellation. I doubt we're going to be in Kentucky. I mean, I can tell you right now we're not going to be Kentucky ultra for hasn't called it but if you look at what the CDC recommends, they're talking may before anything happens. So I think they're waiting it out. You still have some time, but there's just no way and that would even back up right to race. As anti racist?

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think that's right. I mean, it would certainly if they didn't cancel Kentucky. And they went ahead with what Dave has stated that it would be a double points race for West Coast guys at Nationals that changes that race. I mean that you would be incentivized as a West Coast racer to take position in a different and you're just running a different race than the East Coast guys, when you're all on the same track together. that lends itself to so many negative things potentially happen. pitting racer against racer,

Unknown Speaker :

I agree Reno Reno is not the place to do that. That race is its own animal, its own beast, when I saw that I just kind of shook my head like, that's not the fix for this dropping one of the East Coast races or, you know, potentially canceling it is is the right move. But then again, I have to look forward further in the season and see that, you know, our national points series, we're going international to Mexico, which how much sense does that make run an international race in a national series? That one I don't understand, but when I go to Mexico, there's no way There's gonna be international travel with what's going on. I mean, I think anyone that can read the news and see the events going on, I think this is gonna get worse before it gets better, unfortunately, and I doubt we'll be in Mexico. So who knows what's gonna happen with the 2020 season? To begin with,

Wyatt Pemberton :

we just have to be hopeful, right? We just have to have hope and faith and in that it'll work itself out some way. And it doesn't impact all the people we know so well. But we'll put that behind us for now, because we want to talk about Eric Miller, let's go into that. I just didn't want to be tone deaf during this time, and only, you know, talk about racing and ultra for and what we have going and where we've come from, and I know and this time people are looking for normalcy, and to listen to this. I mean, I was on the fence like I was going to can this thing like I was gonna shelve it during this COVID outbreak because I felt it was tone deaf, but so many people talk, I reached out, you know, a sounding board. It's it's really important, you know, to bounce things off of friends and acquaintances, and they gave me back the feedback. The inverse feedback was Dude, you have to keep it going. It gives us all some this bright shiny light to look forward to last week being one guy said, there's only two nuggets of the week that I enjoyed. And it was the last two k weight sessions that you had up. And those were my nuggets, the rest of the week sucked. And I'm like, okay, maybe I do have a, I guess I wouldn't have thought of it as a responsibility. But maybe it's, I guess developed into it. We've all come to expect and so for the next you know, hour and a half or two hours, we're gonna sit down and with you, Eric and you're going to take our minds off of all the BS in the world.

Unknown Speaker :

I hope I can and I think it's funny you mentioned as a responsibility I think that it is at this point you know, you started this snowball that's the tank downhill and I think it's a it's morphed into this awesome thing that really helps connect all of us even better because yeah, we're all friends and acquaintances but you really don't know the the backstories of people and you don't get that. That really intimate time with them. This is a good way to really tell everybody's story. So I personally as a as a follower, have been very eagerly listening to these. They're very cool,

Wyatt Pemberton :

intimate information. I think that's the thing like it's hard to, it's hard to grab, grab you and sit down with you for two hours or even just somebody grabbed me for 10 minutes and get out a whole bunch. Like I've known you for many years, and are known of you for many years I think would be the right way. And I asked you when I touch you the king the hammers and we talked about doing the show, I asked you about a were you at xR, a Indiana Badlands in 2008? And you said yes, I absolutely was because in my head, I remembered you being there. I remember talking to you. It was the very first time we met. You had this mustard ish colored or goldish color like TJ or YG. I don't remember all the details, but then I never saw you again. And then here we are. 12 years later, and I was like, man, I swear that was you but I couldn't find it like Nolan Grogan was one of the guys the photons there. And Ricky Berry, one of the photons. They're going through all their pictures. I never found a picture of your Jeep and I was like Man, I must be crazy. But you've been around forever.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. And it's funny how this like all started. And those memories to me are just like they're foggy to like that because it was so surreal at the time. I mean, literally I was a, I was a kid out trying to take a stock my jeep and kind of race it and that kind of all happened by chance to because X ray came East for the first time. So Paragon Adventure Park, and it was shoot back in 2006. I think I talked to JT about this because he was one of the five people that was actually invited for that that first race. It was like four guys, it was Nelson or GT. Mark Monson. And Lou levy was there. Oh, wow. He's a Maryland guy, too. And Charlie, you know, he's up in New York, but they were big rock crawlers at the time. And Lou was in the promo class. And Charlie was in the unlimited class and had one of the nicest move buggies around for sure. And it was funny because mark and JT came from out west and he had Those two guys from the east and Kyle nos who own Paragon he was good friend of mine. I mean, again, I was like a freshman in college and Kyle had come to know me because I started going to Paragon before, pretty much right after I got my license, but you couldn't, I guess, by the rules legally drive there until you're 18 you had to have a parent with or you know, have a waiver sign. So from that first time that I ever went, I always said I was 18. So, so when my 18 because I was like three hours away from the park. And you know, my dad was busy, he had my sister, you know, to at home and it was, you know, I kinda was on my own doing it, and I loved it. I kept going up there to four wheel on these group rides. So I said I was 18. And the time that mighty birthday came around, and I started, you know, this this rock race and stuff. He put two and two together said, Wait a second. I thought you were 20 you know, so, you know, caught me. So we kind of always joked about that. But uh, yeah, he invited me to come down. He goes to your 40 minutes of throat I was at school up in screaming He says come down, bring a G check it out. It'd be nice to have you know another entrant. And it was the first xR, a race on the east coast and I was hooked. I was like, Wait, you're telling me that I have to get from point A to point B, as fast as I can. And there's no cones in my way. I can just pick whatever line I want. They're like, yep, that's it. And it was to buy to racing. And I had such an awesome weekend. I was semi competitive for what I was driving it was a TJ on 30 fives right against, you know, full to the Rockefeller race buggies. And I had a computer short out and kind of keep me off the podium that I forget if I was fourth, or fifth. But anyway, it was the first weekend where I was like, wow, this racing thing is is a ton of fun. And I think definitely my cup of tea over competitive rock rolling, which I loved. But this was definitely the avenue I enjoyed.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, let's talk about and I know there are people out there but it's another word. I'm going to pander to the the minority here, who's Eric Miller. Why is he on white? Why am I carrying and I believe you're first race at King of hammers was 2010. Yeah. And since 2010, all the way through 2020 you've never DNF in 4400 zero, you finished every single one of those races. That's 11 right? Yeah,

Erik Miller :

yes. Yeah, it's been 11 years now

Wyatt Pemberton :

crazy. In the last six, your worst finishes fourth place in the last six. That's a little bit crazy, man.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I'm so proud of that too. And it's it's one of those things until you put it on paper and really think about it like I don't consistent and I know we're always in contention we go to him first. You know, we've we've built a reputation on our team, our platform, that we're always front runners, and I'm really proud of that. But yeah, like you said, until you put it on paper and brought it up to me. I was like, wow, I don't really reflect on that. You know, it's not something that I think about Oh, yeah, you know, I'm a consistent finisher, can you the hammers. I know that deep down but man that makes it real. And to know each one of those years exactly what took me out contention for the win it was it was something stupid every time right and that's king of hammers and that's why we all say it's it's a crapshoot because it was I can tell one issue that was the difference between first and second or first and third or first and fourth. And that's that's how it goes.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So those 11 years there's only two of those instances only two years did you not finish in the top five, which that's insane to me, and they they're not that bad. 14th and 25th most people kill for a 14th and 25th absolutely kill for those spots. And so the rest of your your fifth or better, your two time King, and you've been within spitting distance of being number one for another three times there. So you're I know I called Bleiler. You know, last week I called Bleiler like the best driver and ultra for today like at this moment because of what he's done for the last four years. But you are you are the best drivers proven over over 11 years. Probably the most accomplished driver and ultra for you might not be a three peat king but you have if we were to assign point values to this versus all the other guys, you're way up there and I think and I mean it sounds like I'm blowing your head up but i'm not i'm really I'm talking like facts when I really sat down to start putting your numbers together, preparing to talk to you today God man impressive and the stories in the teams that you put together each of those years and championed to get to that level you have your you have your junk together man.

Unknown Speaker :

Thanks why Yeah, I think a lot of it goes back to again the people you surround yourself with and and the equipment and just the just your mindset I mean I know from my my entire life You know, I've always just tried to you know, do the best I can at any given any given point in my life, be it academics or athletics or competition, you know, we were never really put down for losing when we you know, played sports as kids and never really got in trouble for not getting in good grades, but we always had good grades. And it was because my dad would say, Well, what happened? You know, why didn't Why didn't you get an A on that? Did you not study hard enough? What was it? And he would always make us reflect on what we could have done better and improve on that the next time because, you know, do you give it 100%? Was that the best job you could do? And that sense of what like leaving something on the table? It always kind of burned me. And that's, I think, why we've had success year after year at King of the hammers, because we take the races and go back and dissect them and said, What did we do wrong? And we've done this for 11 years. What can we improve next year, and every year we progressively get better and better and better as a team, and the same people keep coming back. Because of that. I think they respect the fact that we don't just go out there and kind of wing it. It's a calculated effort. Like you said, the results speak for themselves. I'm very proud of that.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I've used the term like you're a student of the game to describe you and I still stand by that you. You're studious, and you've, you know what's up and what works on What doesn't and have continued to change it. And now you have a huge data point to go off of, I mean, huge data pool to go off of based on how many years you've been doing it, but now you you field, multiple cars and Miller Motorsports is you, but you have a lot of people in your pro chassis. So coming off, okay, which 2020 which we're gonna weigh get into Weigh Down the future on this in this interview, but right here right now, you ended up third. But Josh beiler ends up the king and he's running a Miller pro chassis. How did that make you feel?

Unknown Speaker :

I saw on your outline that you said how bittersweet was that I looked at that word, and I laughed, and I thought it couldn't be. It couldn't be further for bittersweet. I am. I am so proud and so happy for him. It's 100% I just like I said, it's like watching a prodigy in front of you, you know, get this because I knew way back when I first met Josh, I noticed that he had the same he were very like minded he had the same outlook on racing. He had no resources at his fingertips and he had no he had drive, and will to do this and he had never driven or a rock in his life, you know, with the intention of either having fun or doing it competitively, until he met me. And that was his biggest hang up. He's like, I don't know if I can get this rock crawling thing down. I'm like, Joshua Rocco imparts something you'll grow to love. And that's, I think another reason why I've had really good success at King of the hammers is the rock hauling background. So for me to kind of see him get that title and bring it back east and to do it in one of our cars. It's like I said, I couldn't be more proud when I cross that line. I think it was better than me when and I mean, let's be honest, Josh is the first king. I think in the last seven years, that's like new blood, right? It's been the same group of us or whatever. And I don't know. I mean, that's says something in itself, right. That's a testament to the race and the people, the people that are having success at it, but it gets boring. Right, the same guys up, Eric want again, Jason once again, it's like, he kind of takes away the, the notion of what king of the hammers was that it was something that anyone could attain or accomplish. It kind of puts it out of reach. And for Josh to come in being a guy from Pennsylvania that had kind of built the race team again, you know, he was always racer, whatnot, but to do something on the national scene like this, really reinstalls it, it is still anyone's game anyone can come in, if they have the right backing and talent and drive and put together a program and so when this race, it's not NASCAR yet. It's not gonna be NASCAR. That's what's special about it. You know, Josh proves that and I'm, like I said, so proud of him to be a part of it and be his teammate, until I kind of mentored him. And, you know, every year we got to Johnson Valley, we spent a week together and that's one of the most fun weeks of the year for us. It's a lot of work. Don't get me wrong. We're not just sitting around a campfire drinking beer. We're out there putting miles on these cars, working on shocks. You know, Making changes and seeing what we need to do to improve. I mean, it's a proven platform. But it doesn't mean we don't tweak. I mean, if you're not making changes and getting better year after year, you're sitting still and getting past. And this year was telltale of that, because we did make a lot of changes. And here he is on top. And it was a fan Relay For me, like I said, Every year, I can look back and pinpoint one thing, why I wasn't on top and it was a it was a fan relay this year, unfortunately.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, I look forward to hearing your feedback once you listen to Josh's episode, which will have aired by this point.

Erik Miller :

So cool.

Wyatt Pemberton :

It's good. We're gonna jump back into Eric and who you are where you're from Cumberland, Maryland growing up, but right as we're about to talk about that I know you have something going with a surprise birthday present for your grandfather. We kind of talked about this in prelims You know, you're a Jeep guy living around a bunch of Toyota folks. So what's going on with this? What's going on with this? This Jeep for your grandfather, he's, he's about to turn 90.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, he's his 90th birthday. Isn't April and that Jeep in his home place? his farm really has been integral in getting me to where I'm at today when I look back and say, Why did I take this path in life? And how did I how did this the sport and then this hobby captivated me so much? Where did it start? My dad always asked me that question. He's like, was it the, you know, monster trucks we took easy to see when you were a year old and or, you know what, what was it? And I said, Yeah, that was part of it. You know, seeing that kind of stuff as a kid. I had a subscription to four wheeler magazine, you know, before I could even read I remember just looking at pictures of jeeps and trucks in that and I was just always kind of gravitated toward that stuff like tires and tread and, and I really believe it's from that 1957 cJ five that was a Willie's that my pap bought back in I think the 60s it was just a farm Jeep and that farm in West Virginia in maysville. It's like As remote as it gets, I mean, it's up in the mountains. It's his family homestead place. So my, I guess it would be my great grandfather move there. They were farmers. He had a job, but they had a fully functional farm. And he raised 15 children there, which is amazing. And they went to a one room schoolhouse that was literally on that mountain before they moved on to high school. I mean, to hear my grandfather tell these stories, and know that it was only I say only but not even a lifetime ago. I mean, it was really in the 30s and 40s. And how much has changed. It's surreal. It's one of the reasons I live where I do. So I try to it's funny, we're sitting down and doing this interview, I really should do something like this with him, because I've heard all these stories. But next and my son is not going to get them firsthand from my grandfather. So to sit at the kitchen table in that farmhouse to look at the old house where his mom and dad raised 15 children over the course of like 17 years on that farm man, the history is just It kinda is overwhelming in it, it really makes you feel small knowing that what they had to do just to just to live, I mean, they didn't even have electricity when my grandfather was born up there. So that was a big, I guess, part of me as a child and shaping who I am to see, really the most basic form of survival living off the land off your own means and look at the times we're in today. I mean, heck, it could come back to that. So that Jeep to me, means a lot. And when I was 15 years old, I remember very vividly, I said, Hey, Pat, let me take the Jeep for a ride. And mind you this was the vehicle I learned to drive stick on. So I mean, as far as like sentiment and history, it doesn't get any better than that. I was like, you know, seven or eight years old. And I remember just learning how to drive stick in that thing. My mom used to take me all over the farm that we get together as a family and go up and explore the mountain in it. I just remember the I guess it kind of captivated me and it was like Wow, this is so cool. Cool, like what you can actually do in a jeep. So it kind of molded me into be a cheap guy. You know, I got to the point I was old enough to drive it on my own. And it was always what I wanted to do. Let me take the jeep Out. And so he finally started a lot and he was pretty strict as I was growing up, but he let me suggest, you know, it's, it's getting old, it's getting tired, take care of it, don't run the heck out of that thing. You know, I'm 15 years old. He knows how I am. So I drove it down the mountain, he says, Please just be careful with it. And I remember getting three miles down the mountain, turn it around, and just to the wood back up that dirt road as fast as that thing would go and halfway through second gear, I just remember that thing saying, today's the day and I believe it through a rod through the block and I was sitting there on that dirt road, looked onto that Jeep and saw a big puddle black oil and thought, uh, he's gonna kill me. So that was probably the longest three mile hike in my life. Just knowing that what stood in front of me what I was going to have to face because like I said he was really strict with me growing up, but he kind of just shook his head and bailed me out. Again, we pulled it home and up the mountain and he said You know, he goes so what are you gonna do pap after I got, you know, like going over getting in trouble. He said well he goes, you can have this thing you know it's it's it's the point that it's either ready for scrap or whatever he goes Just do me a favor please don't modify it if you do anything with it, you know he does just you have your other ones to modify and you know I was talking about I had a grand cherokee at that point that was gonna be mine, right that was the vehicle I was learning to drive on with a learner's permit. He said just mess with your other vehicles get another Jeep leave this one alone. And I made him that promise and I was 15 and I took it home to my dad's house really, which is in just a normal community, right? We don't really have a big garage or anything and started to tear that thing apart there and that's where my dad said, Stop. This place is gonna look like West Virginia. Before you know it. You're gonna have parts blown all over the driveway, just take it down to the farm. My dad had some acreage south of town that he bought literally for the reason to have a place to go to grow a garden. He had a pond down there, you know just homestead place you know outside the city or the little town. And that's where I started to restore this Jeep at 15 Well, what I thought I was doing was restoring it but I pretty much took it apart at 15 Here we are, I'm 33 years old, and I made a promise to myself that it will be done this year for him and his birthday being next month. I'm going to bring him over and show him that thing as a full roller. I'm waiting on the motor to come back but it's very very close and I've pushed the last two years really hard to make the time to get that thing done for him.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So that's where we're at. Oh, that's wickedly cool. When you get to that point please post that up on social so we can see that and share that because I do want to see that I want to see his face I want to see how how happy he is and you know there's just no recreating that when just like you looking at Bleiler, you know buy on the box and feel like that's your prodigy did this you what he's done. I can just see already your grandfather looking at you and being like Did

Unknown Speaker :

I just I know it has to be done this year because I don't want to miss out on that moment. I mean, this, this whole situation we're dealing with now just prove to you that you know, the next day is, is never known. And man it would it would really tear me up to not be able to give him that as a just as you know, saying I was a man of my word, because I'll tell you right now why he doesn't think that thing will ever be put together. As far as he's concerned, it's still in a million pieces. And he'd be damned if I could even find them, let alone put them back together. So he doesn't know that any of this is going on. Like I said, I'm going to kind of reveal it to him and it'll kind of be like a soft reveal if you may because it's a fully bodied roller without a motor in it. And it's in primer, you know, it has some of the original hood and grille on it. So it looks like the old vehicle. Nothing's changed. It's as it was from 1957 that's an F head with a T 90 and a Dane 18. And, you know, the same running gear and in suspension, everything, and I did that for him. I didn't modify that thing. The least and I think it's gonna be really special because, you know, it'll it'll one day be Nixon's vehicle. And I mean, let's be honest with what the automakers are building today. We're not going to be restoring, you know, jails like this, it's this is just something that's a time capsule and it's going to be something that I hope Nixon can appreciate it one day.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So your parents, your father is he's in his 80s. Right? Yes. And then he just had a hip replacement two weeks ago. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker :

yeah, very recently, and it's, uh, he's, he's doing the best he can with it. But this is his fourth or fifth major surgery in the last four years. So he had a really rough, rough go at it. And I say that because he was a practicing physician up until he was 81. I mean, my dad at 80 looked like he was in his late 60s. He was just killing it. Same with my pap my past 90, but, I mean, he gets around grade. So, you know, I hopefully accredit that to really good genetics but the last few years of been really hard on my dad, since he retired, just you know, a fall here and there he has bad osteoporosis. So any fall, you know is is is a huge problem,

Wyatt Pemberton :

man and then your mom, you lost your mom when you were very young though, man. Eight, nine years old breast cancer.

Unknown Speaker :

Yep, I was eight years old. My sister was five. You know, I think that's a really valid thing to bring up. Because like I said, I mean, it was a lot of the reason that I am who I am today, I've always kind of been a person that has tried to take, take what I have and make the best of it and always try to be an optimist because, you know, there's a bad lot of bad things in life. I mean, again, back to current day. I mean, if we can't be optimistic about where we as a society will come out of this COVID-19 thing. I think that's bad. But it's the reason that the human race is successful, because you know, that the vast majority of us can take things and make something out of it. make the best of it. And you know, it was hard for me for sure. I mean, eight years old, losing your mom like that. These A lot of you blame yourself. I mean, I did. I couldn't even imagine being my sister at five. But again, that's a bad thing. But there's a lot of people that have a lot bigger problems. So I'm really fortunate for the family I have. I'm one of six. I have three older brothers, an older sister and a younger sister. And they've all been a big part of my life, for sure. And it's funny, you bring up my dad's age and the fact that I lost my mom as a as a kid, she was only 33. So that's something that most people starts scratching their head. They're like, Wait a second. Maddie. Yeah, they do math on the fly really quick. And I see going on in their heads and I got Okay, I'll stop you right there. So yeah, my past 90 my dad's 86. Obviously, my pap is my mom's father. And my dad is actually older than his mother in law because he couldn't believe it. So you start adding up and like that doesn't make sense. Well, this is it was my dad's second marriage. So my older brothers and sisters are our half. But we were never really brought up like that, you know, we always had a really, really good real lationship and that was one of the things that my mom and dad were both like, there. They are your brothers and sisters, you know, just because, you know, our mothers were different doesn't doesn't change anything. And like I said, it's funny out of that, really, you know, my dad's divorce, like, that was a hard time for all of my brothers and sisters, my father and their mother. But it all kind of came to be a really good thing because my sister and I are here because of it. You know, my father and his ex wife have a great relationship. She's a big part of our life now. You know, looking back, it was the best thing, you know, everything happens for a reason. But at the time, it was like, wow, this is terrible. You know, that was just a really hard thing for the family. But Same thing with losing my mom as a kid. It was a really hard thing to go through. But I had all my older brothers and sisters that were there for us. My older sister came home and spent that summer you know, away from school with my sister and I just because of really, I mean, we were it was my dad and my sister and I and he was working full time, you know, to support us so it was a really hard time but it molded us into the people. We are

Wyatt Pemberton :

What do all your siblings think about this? This brother, there's that is this, your world renowned racer?

Unknown Speaker :

So that's funny you say it that way, because that's that's the way my dad describes it. And he's so funny because I am the only one in the family that forged down a path. Well, I can't say that. I was gonna say outside of medicine, but my older sister study business as well. So we're, we're like minded in that sense. But all my brothers are physicians. And my younger sister is a veterinarian, so they all have, you know, some interest in the medical field. So, when I was younger, and you know, I was going down that path. I mean, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I mean, do any of us know what we want to do? Really, when we were in high school and even college at this point, like, I'd say the vast majority would say no. So I just did what everybody else did. I studied via I shadowed my dad, I went to the University of Scranton, where, you know, it was his alma mater and my older brothers because they had a really good medical program. And I got through my freshman year and we're actually a first semester Freshman year and I was like, I just I don't love this, I had really good grades. And I had to call my dad and have that conversation with him like, Hey, I'm not gonna follow in your footsteps. And that was a, that was hard for me to do because I thought he was going to be disappointed, you know. But it's, it's just goes to show who my dad is because he said, with full support he has you have to do what you love. And he always, always taught us that growing up, he said, You have to be happy in what you do, or you and you'll never work a day in your life, otherwise you'll be miserable. So he gave me his full support. And he asked me though, because what are you going to do? If you don't? If you don't become a doctor, I said, Well, I'm going to study business. Why are you gonna study business? Well, because I can do anything with business dad, and he doesn't have that same entrepreneurial mindset that I do. And that outlook so still to this day, he like, it blows his mind that, you know, if I don't go to work, I don't make money like I am my source of income. That's how it works. And so it's been cool because everyone in my family kind of thought I was crazy, too. To begin with, but they're like, well, he'll get a business degree. He'll work for someone that'll be that, you know, none of us ever imagined what it could turn into.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And then here we are. Yep.

Intro/Outro :

Stay tuned. Your talent tank is in full yet.

Wyatt Pemberton :

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Intro/Outro :

now back to the show.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And then growing up you were heavily into sports and I know obviously that plays a part into your competitiveness, your ability to excel in a team environment. But one thing I always have seen that fascinates me on social media and it's always what people that you know do that your is very different from the normal where yet I'm from Kansas by living South Texas, there's no ice on any pawns around here. And I'll see your social media you guys suited up and playing ice hockey.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it's funny. I'm, I got the opportunity when I was around the time that my mom was sick. We got a we had a brand new wives day bill. It was one of two, I think in the world that we're going to have an ice rink at the time. And I was again, like I said, athlete my whole life. We were always encouraged from the time you know, we were three, four to go play. So my brothers were all soccer players. I played baseball. And in the winter, you know, I was playing like Sunday school basketball, but I really didn't love that. And to be honest, I could shoot a basketball, but I just I wasn't great playing. I was always getting fouled out. And it just it wasn't my thing. And that was a little frustrating for me because a lot of that stuff kind of came easy to me. When that that hockey rink came I was like, wow, but you're telling me it's kind of like racing. It's kind of like the rock racing to the competitive rock crawling. It's not ballet. I'm like you're telling me there's a sport. That's kind of like soccer but faster, and you can hit people and it's legal. And like, that sounds more like they. I remember doing the first hockey camp, but that why I couldn't even skate. Why? I mean, we got some old skates from when my brothers were kids that I had. I mean, it was it was a joke. It was just kind of like my racing career. I had no idea what I was doing. But I loved it. I thought it was amazing. And it was the reason that I think I had so much fun with it and why it was such a big part of my life and why it molded me into who I am today. Just because of where I started from just from scratch, you know?

Wyatt Pemberton :

And then you got injured in in college playing hockey, right?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I mean, I'll be honest, this I wasn't I wasn't going anywhere with hockey. It was just one of those. It was just, I was good. I enjoyed it and we had you know, we want championships at home. I played travel and like I said I had a chance to play at Scranton. When I went to school and took it I could have played soccer baseball but like I said, I love hockey and how I was probably better at baseball and I was a keeper in In soccer, I was really even better at those. But it wasn't my love and I got hurt as a junior and it was around the time I tore my my labor my shoulder. And I've been lucky my whole life, I really didn't have any major, major injuries. And, you know, my coach at the time at screen, he was a good coach, but he used pretty strict and I told him, I would always try to tell him when I was going to be away with some of these rock rolling events, so that we had, you know, eight to 10 defenseman, and we just six or seven. So, you know, every couple games, you would rotate out and sit. And so I'd say all right, bench me these games and, you know, I'll be at all the practices and all the other games. Well, he would dress me on those games that I was going to be away because, you know, hockey wasn't my, my first priority in his eyes, which is completely respectable and understandable. It always kind of irked me because I'm like, Man, I'm trying to do two things and I'm, you know, I'm half assing both, you know, you tried a whole last one thing and that shoulder injury was kind of my come to Jesus. Alright, I got it. Heck. And it really helped me go into the rock crawling rock racing world because at the same time, I knew that hockey was just fun for me. I wasn't doing anything with it. I was like, wow, when I'm when I'm done school, like, what am I gonna do? I'm just gonna play like men's league or something for that competitive outlet like I was racing mountain bikes a little bit, but I wasn't, that was just for fun, too. I really kinda was like, Man, that can't be it. You can't just graduate and work and that'd be that'd be that, you know, pay bills to die. So I went the rock rolling racing route. And I did that because I saw this tie between what I was studying with marketing and management in this industry that, you know, I could really build a career around. And I was always always optimistic that even though it was super grassroots time,

Wyatt Pemberton :

but did you ever think even at that time that you would be able to make this a full time career that put food on the table and fed your family 365 days a year?

Unknown Speaker :

No, of course not. I mean, like I said, I'm in my late teens, early 20s. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew what I loved and I knew what made me happy and what I wanted to put my effort into. And where that would go. I didn't know I don't know what's gonna what tomorrow will bring. But

Erik Miller :

yeah, that's the adventure of life. That's what's so much fun. If you knew it wouldn't be any fun.

Wyatt Pemberton :

All right. And then that sounds like Nixon in the background.

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, yeah, he's trying to open the door and come in here. He's up from his nap. So a whole nother element of life. Now,

Wyatt Pemberton :

this is a perfect segue. So you you're married now? You married a light. Now? She's Lee Miller light like me?

Erik Miller :

Yeah, we're stoked about that. Yeah. Leah Miller light. I told her she should take

Wyatt Pemberton :

right. So how did you guys meet? She I know she's in. She's been in the industry forever. Same with you.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. Again, it's like, you know, you you look back at your life and you're like, I had no idea what I was doing. Why did I make this decision? Why did I make that decision? And why did all this stuff happened to me? You know, and like I said, Yes, the stuff happens to you every single day. But it's what you do with what happens to you That is important, right? You know, there's bad stuff everyday that goes on. It's just how you how you look at it and, and handle it that that really molds mold your character. And it's funny, I always look back and see where I'm at today and the path that I'm on and know that everything in my life has happened for a reason, be it good or bad. And Leah is one of those things. I met her, obviously because she worked within the industry. When I met her she was working. She was the CEO at poly performance and synergy. manufacturing. She worked for Dave Schlossberg out there, and she's originally from Alabama, and she used to work in the jeep shop down there. And you know, kind of had this opportunity to go out to go out west. You know, she was born and raised in Alabama. You know, it's a that's a whole nother thing is how she got out there but she saw an opportunity and took it and had really good success at it. But if it wasn't for that I would have never met her. I actually officially met her in Moab Utah where we ended up getting married. So it's kind of fun, everything kind of comes full circle,

Wyatt Pemberton :

you know wheeling. Yeah, no, you guys your wedding pictures are gorgeous. Just yummy sunset, Moab the rim the red rocks. Yeah, something else. And now you guys have a you have a nine month I'm sorry a 14 month old now. Nixon

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, nine months doesn't seem that long ago. It's crazy. You know, everybody says it goes, it goes by too fast. It's really it's a cliche with little kids, but it's so true. And it makes me you know, even more cognizant of it. Today we have 10 new chicks and you know, Leah's into into chickens and you know, we've got a small farm and then enjoy that, that part of our lives. And it's cool to, to kind of submerge the mix and, and get him involved with that kind of stuff to show him like, where his food comes from and how this whole world revolves. And it's really, it's crazy to watch those things grow up every day. They get bigger. I mean, like, noticeably bigger each day. And I mean, he's 14 months now. He's running around like crazy. I mean, if you tell him something, he completely understands you and does it. He You know, his his vocabulary is way more broad than he lets on. He has like two words and tractor being being number one, right? Everything's attracted to the kid. It's really funny, but he's really with it's super smart. And like I said, He knows everything you're saying he watches everything you do, and mimics it. And it's like, it's scary. We and I keep looking each other. We're like, wow, we're to the point where everything matters, right? As a baby, you can, you know, put them down and they're gonna be where you left them for a while, right? And then they start crawling and they start walking and then they start listening and oh, man, it's it's a it's an adventure, but I had a really good dad to kind of look back and figure out how to do this and I'm lucky still around to be a part of it. Because man, he loves that baby just as much as I do.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, I got to meet Nixon at kth this year. I got to see him he's pushing around a little dump truck and picking up means dry like like bed junk. Yeah. Yeah, probably some nails you know, definitely rocks in just shovel him in there and pushing around and then I got to see him. Pre diaper change. That was a that was something else. But man, it's really cool to it for me, you know, I have a 12 year old and a nine year old and I've purged probably those first three years of their life from memory. So I think like, when you get to, you know, when Nixon's 12 or so and you get to go back, you know, I'm gonna go back and listen to that interview and where we talk about him. Like, oh, man, that little turd.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I was thinking about that today before before. We call each other here, just being able to like, look back on this interview and see where I was at this point in my life because it's, it's funny. I mean, he, this is his second cage. He was three weeks old last year, we brought him out and everybody thought we were crazy. And he said, Why are you taking that baby out there? So because he's a part of our life. I'm not gonna just because he's a baby, take away an experience for him. And Leah has been amazing as a mother, you know, being able to take the load off me because I mean, that's a that's a tough, tough couple weeks for everybody can you hammers she had just given birth to him, and we're in the middle of my cars are essentially a very Cassie so she has been awesome and fully supportive. And like I said it began this interview. It's It's It's a team thing like I do the driving, but I mean, to me, that's the easy part of it. That's my deal. That's what I'm what I excel at. But without all the help from everybody else, you know, we wouldn't have the team that we do.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, she does a lot for you. And I know, I'd scheduled with her she was to actually be one of the K wage sessions.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. And she she had like, early hammer long. And we, we kind of joke about it's not funny at all, but we were all really sick through that month of January. And she would it was me first. And then I don't know if we didn't have some form of cod died. 19 I don't I don't know. It was bad. I had weeks of it. And it was respiratory and fever and flu and I had to fight through that. And it wasn't until like, really after qualifying that I really started to feel better. And I thought I was going to have to race another another qH sick because the year before I raced sick as a dog, and that was a that was hard. That was really hard.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, you still did pretty well, though.

Unknown Speaker :

Well, you look back though, and you're like, man, everything has to fall into place to to have your day and this year was Josh's day, for sure.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Now you guys you Only you guys have a have a farm there in Cumberland. You mentioned the chickens. I think you're you're in the goats though from what I've seen you've got you got a got a herd of goats.

Erik Miller :

She is for sure like all the

Wyatt Pemberton :

other birds they're not yours.

Unknown Speaker :

Oh they were their goats they're not mine I love them. I think they're great because they're, they're useful they're functional like they they clean up all the crap that everything else won't eat so it's like a perfect component of a farm and you know we don't have a full functioning farm but it's just you know, kind of a little hobby thing that we enjoy and like I said can really bring mixing up around that to show him how this all works as far as life noise food comes from but yeah, for me, that's her stuff, the the property and managing that and everything that's kind of my wheelhouse, you know, I enjoy all that kind of stuff.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, you brought up the you know, Knowing where your food comes from and if anything this this whole virus thing is shown so many people well I mean I just saw I just saw it yesterday that uh that they had to come out you know, Department of Homeland Security has to come out and say in add agriculture to the industries that were you have to have them and those got it they actually had been omitted from that list and that's felt insanely crazy and I and but it also makes me think about when I've seen social media posts like people saying like about hunters, why do they need to shoot in them? Well, why can't they just go get their meat at Kroger like the rest of us. And

Unknown Speaker :

it's so crazy that the society thinks that way and why it's so important to teach your kids like what I learned from my grandfather all goes back to that farm. Like when my great grandfather would go out hunting. He wouldn't stop shooting until there wasn't anything left moving. He had 15 children to feed and that's really real. So for me like I'm hunting is not my thing by Emma Hunter. And I do it because I enjoy it and out of practice, you know, like having this I enjoy knowing where my food comes from. So to see what we're facing today, again, like I live where I do for a reason, it's because we are in a really good spot to be completely self sufficient. I mean, I'm no prepper, right? I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that. But I'm always I always want to be ready. You know, it's just like racing, you want to be ready for anything that comes. So we're good. I've got generator hookups to my shop and my house got food, fuel, water, you name it. I've got backups for my backups. And I think it could come to that at some point. I mean, hopefully not in our lifetimes. But you never know. I mean, this is all out of left field, right. Like, lately in December, in December before Christmas, this was the last thing anybody was worried about. Now, it's essentially brought our economy to a screeching halt. It's scary. It's a scary thing on

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, I just feel the word 2345 generations removed from the farm and people have lost what that connection was like truly, where their food comes from. And that's To me is scary.

Unknown Speaker :

It's very scary because it is literally integral to sustaining life and the fact that they had to like bring agriculture in after the fact is almost comical. I mean it is it's our lifeblood like it should be one of the most focused industries and it's it's just like every trade in this country and you know you have the millennial generation of snowflakes everybody jokes about it, but it's it's serious like we've put down blue collar trades in this country for so long and push the fact that you had to have a college education and get a job and like I said, almost make those trades like what undesirable and farming that's one of them. Like, even the the children of farmers, it's scary. They don't want to do it because it's such a hard lifestyle. And I don't know if everybody's looking for an easy way out but we need to get back to what really makes this country go around. And it was one of the reasons that I wanted to go into business in the field that I did was because I enjoy making things with my own hands like I enjoy being able to to rely on myself for whatever that need may be, and to kind of be like a jack of all trades and probably why like ultra for I mean, I mean, what a better sport to try to build a four wheel drive vehicle that can be the best at all things. Automotive, right? I mean, that's pretty cool.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So Oh no, absolutely. I know you love making things. I've seen some, you know, we've all seen this stuff that you've made, but you're into woodworking as well. Are you good at it? I assume you are.

Unknown Speaker :

So this is also funny. So Leah, Leah is the one into woodworking So, so big, but my father and grandfather are into wood and they thought I was crazy that I enjoyed metal right. And I thought they were crazy that they like working with wood. And I also didn't enjoy. I didn't enjoy gardening when I was younger. My dad and grandfather both did and you know, as a kid, I thought that that was stupid. Right? And now you have one. Exactly. And that's honestly why it's funny. I'm finishing up this Jeep and Leah's into woodworking. I always kind of gave her hack about it. As we kind of prepare to build next and attractor bed, you know how to wood, wood it's hard for me because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, right? So with metal, you can hold really tight tolerances, things can be like, quote unquote perfect wood has a lot of variables in it and that's hard for me to get over. But at the same time, I have a really deep respect for it. And a lot of talented people in my family are good at that my brother in law's a very talented woodworker. My dad was his whole life saving my grandfather. So I see myself as we move forward, getting more and more into that, as we kind of move forward. I really enjoy it.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So when you decided to, I guess run down the path you are you talk to your dad, you talk to your dad into, hey, this one good, do I'm gonna get into business. And at what point kind of in there Did you say Miller Motorsports is the thing is it. It wasn't immediately out of out of college. I know at one point I remember you working for Pat, but I think you already had Miller Motorsports going

Unknown Speaker :

Yes, yeah. So the pack opportunity came out of me racing and everything. And Miller Motorsports was

Erik Miller :

infancy.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it was in its infancy. It was kind of uncertain. Like I was really kind of racing as a hobby. Because it was also grassroots at the time. And it kind of plays into like, how do you get into the sport today? And that's a multi level question. But the opportunity to work for pack came out of me racing. And I jumped at the opportunity because I kind of realized that was the direction that I was going no matter what was to work in the industry, right? When I started studying business and marketing management, that was always the end goal, right? I figured I told my dad, I said, Look, I said, if I study marketing, I can get a bunch of people to help support what I'm doing with my racing. And, you know, here's what if, what if the racing ends or whatever I said, Well, I said, I can always you know, work for one of those partners, like I'm building these relationships and helping develop these products and you know, firsthand through what I'm doing So that was kind of always in the back of my mind, I'm like, that'd be a great way to, you know, have a primary income. So I took the opportunity and went to work for Pac. And that was a really good thing because I had the freedom to work remotely. I was in product development and sales and marketing for them. And I go into the office up in Detroit, you know, once a month and spend a couple days or a week and then come back and so I still could run my race program handle everything that we had gone on the shop and and work for pack, like I said remotely during the day. So I was juggling a lot I did it for for three years. It kind of got to the point. For me, I learned a lot from Pac because it's a it's such a large corporation. It's a family owned deal that is over 100 years old, which was really cool. So it was cool to see the corporate side of things while frustrating at the same time,

Wyatt Pemberton :

right to know you were predominantly in just the suspension spring side of the business or were you doing the drive train springs?

Unknown Speaker :

No, I was in the aftermarket Division I was with Packer racing, so Peterson In America, which was the parent company, which did everything with, you know, valves and springs for seats and automobiles, anything that was a spring in a car they made for the automotive industry. So that was like the corporate side, we were kind of like the small aftermarket division that was really driven by racing. But like I said, we had those corporate limitations and frustrations because we were a spin off of that, that we had to deal with. And so it kind of really gave me that first hand experience of how a business should or shouldn't be run, per se, and why I feel so strongly about the trades today. Like why we go right from high school into college and then expected to work is a job with zero experience. It's crazy. Why don't we take a year or two and be forced into an apprenticeship or internship where you learn, firsthand working for someone, how, whatever your field of interest is, works, and then go get that formal education and now you have the hands on training. It's kind of a backward system. So it was For me as a small business owner to see how a large corporation runs and how the pros and cons of that,

Wyatt Pemberton :

and then you also ended up with some essential skills that you ended up with a CDL. Right. That's still that's an essential industry today. You can always fall back on that.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it's funny and my dad kind of he kind of laughed when I said, Hey, I'm getting my CDL Guess what? You'd be a truck driver. Now he goes, I never thought I'd have a son. That would be a truck driver, let alone own a class a truck. He's like, you know, he sat me down he goes, you realize you have a tractor trailer. I said, you realize that that semis sitting out in the drive, you know, with the trailer behind it costs less than a brand new one ton truck these days. Like it's just kind of crazy how you, you know, needs necessitate what you do in life. And I went through some delays in my time hauling all over this country to go racing. But yes, I have a CDL I got it because a pack. And the irony is I had to get that CDL to drive an F 450 with a race trailer behind it. Right. We already had a class a truck at that point. That was just it was an RV. Right? It was Private for my own personal use. Yep. And they're getting my CD l four pack and still hold it today. And yeah, that kind of gave me a little hack about that. He said, Well, if none of this stuff works out, because you can always go be a truck driver. So a dad, I said, I like to be able to do you know everything and not depend on anyone.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Oh, man. So you early years of offroad early years of racing, we touched on Paragon a little bit but what was that? That was about Oh, six and you're tj.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, yeah, that that first X ray event. I mean, I was I was doing that new rock series, which was a local rock rolling deal. You rock a little bit of Iraq. I was actually building a car in 2008 Pro mod vehicle that I worked with a friend out of Missouri. His name was john markavitch. met him through X ray and my jeep

Wyatt Pemberton :

Marco customs. Whatever happened to Marco

Erik Miller :

dude, Marco is he's down in Tennessee. He's got a farm

Wyatt Pemberton :

circuit. He was in Columbia, Missouri. I remember he was at Columbia, Missouri, and then I don't know somewhere around 2012 or 13 in my bookie, he left the scene.

Unknown Speaker :

Marcos got us figured out Yeah, he did. I mean he actually he moved to Australia for a while he got married moved to Australia. He's a big hunter and Mark was super talented with you know, metal fabrication anything you know he's really good with his hands and went over to Australia spent a few years and actually came back and bought a farm here in Tennessee. It's been a couple years since I talked to him but he just you know, john, I saw eye to eye with because he was one of those guys that just kind of was to himself laying low and kind of only relying on itself and himself and he's got that that farm down there now and I know he's doing doing work out of there as far as fabrication goes and essentially just living off the land. That's that's Marco,

Wyatt Pemberton :

please tell him hi if you have a way to reach out to him because

Unknown Speaker :

I either reach out to him because it's like I said, it's been years and you know, we'll probably pick right back up where we left off but he was a really good friend of mine. We kind of saw it I and he kind of took me under his wing there a little bit. You know, because he knew him and I both were like, Man I'm just so outclassed in this GPS like you got to get into a buggy. And I just I didn't have I never built anything from scratch. I didn't have the skill set, john built a couple cars. And he's like, well, he's like, I will help you do it out here if you want to, you know, it'd be a really good partnership, I think and so, so we started building the pro mod car together in in Missouri, at his shop there Marco customs. And that was it was going to be actually why it had the drive train to a moon buggy, that I was going to build a stock mod TJ out of right. And big rich kind of kind of told me at that time, it was like 2008 He's like, Yeah, he's like, we're just going to kind of focus on Pro mode and unlimited and not really give the the stock mod class much coverage. And I was like, I just I think that's the wrong move. I said, that's the way for guys to get into the sport. I think that you know, if you just focus on those two classes, it makes it unattainable for the every guy that's coming out and watching as we need to grow the sport. And that's why I love that stock mock class so much because it was attainable, right? It was stuff that guys were Almost driving anyway, so the class had gotten crazy people were starting to build specific cars for that. Jeeps, you know, whatever. And I started thinking in my head, how can I bend the rules and build something really, really cool? And I said, there's no reason you couldn't shove a moon buggy drive train in a little in a TJ right? Just do a ground up build with the frame. So I had an Ecotec and a powerglide of five oh, Atlas offset spider shacks, housings, I was going to build this myself at home. And rich kind of shot that down and said, you know, you just not it's not what, where we're going right. And we rock was pretty much the premier rock crawling body at the times, john and i got together an X ray event and decided to switch gears and build this pro mod car and I said, Well, I got all this stuff. Let's do it. And he kind of took me under his wing and helped me and, man I learned a lot from him just about, you know, chassis fabrication layout. And, you know, he was definitely one of the people that showed me that stuff. And it's funny, we keep looking back, Clayton from Clayton offroad. He was one of he was my first sponsor. Right, we actually built my TJ, in 2000 in oh four for 2005 at a shop up in Connecticut. So it's funny you circle back and you're like, how did you get where you're at, without really any formal training? I mean, I didn't have any. It's not like, you know, my dad did this or anything. I was kind of forging my own path here. And it's it was a few certain people like that that really helped me. And Clayton was always optimistic. He said, Yeah, you know, we'll help you build this. And he was our first sponsor, and he was kind of close up in Connecticut because I was in school in PA, but it comes full circle. So Clayton helped me out and then Marco did and we built that thing to a to a roller, john and i before I took it home to finish it out. That was eight, right in that season. I'd kind of taken off to build this buggy because it was it's a big deal. I'm a kid like trying to build a car. And so you're at what direction I want to go. It was then that season I had off finishing that car for 2009 Well, what came in 2009 RCP right, so I still had a jeep. I'll kind of let you segue into that thing.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, right. Well, that was when I met you in 2008 x Ra. And then yeah, I remember with the RC key was a really big deal around that we put ourselves back in our bodies 10 years ago, it was all pirate was lit up about it because it was kind of a, I don't know a realization It was a recognition of East Coast racers that there was truly racing outside of California or they're outside of the West Coast because pirate was predominantly all West Coast guys, they really didn't acknowledge that there was people that we're into off road outside of outside of their little part of the world. And then here you came along, you know by 2010 and you know, winning king of the hammers a little bit later, but this Maryland guy winning king of the hammers, I mean, it blew some minds. I mean, they in their book that was their little baby, it was always going to be like Shannon Campbell or Randy slawson winning, even when Lauren one it was a kind of almost a wake up call for him. They were like who's This guy.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. And that's funny you bring up pirate and Who's this guy? There was a thread that was started right after co h in 2010. And it was, who is Eric Miller? That was the title of the thread. And I laughed when I first saw it because I was you know, a college kid on pirate on the east coast. And like you said, it was primarily a West Coast thing we had finished fifth that first year in, in that twisted customs car. Man, I look back at that race and all the things that we didn't know and the things that we did wrong and I don't know what the time was, but it was something like that, or Lauren had us by 18 minutes, something stupid like that. Right? It was not a huge time deficit when you all things considered when I look back at that race, and really, I had a flat and just being dumb didn't have a jack because it had fall off the car and it took Robbie and I probably, I mean, if I had to guess a half an hour to change a tire in the desert flux in the car out digging a hole in a ditch, blah, blah, blah. I look back and I'm like guys, we were literally if you could pick one thing and change it right everybody does that. about that. races, what can I improve? What what would have been the defining moment for me a tire change. I said we could have won this race. And we did so many things wrong. And that lit a fire for me and gave me the confidence to know that someone from Maryland can win this race, a kid can win this race. And that race really set in stone for me, my just 100% drive to focus on and make that a life goal of mine is to win this game of hammers race. And if it wasn't Two years later, we did it. And we were damn close in 11 when I had one of those bad finishes where we had a big mechanical

Wyatt Pemberton :

and again, you say bad finish. It was 14. But

Unknown Speaker :

well, I know. But all things considered that 14th and the 24th are probably some of my most proud finishes because I was not a race that I worked harder for let's put it that way. I've put some miles under my belt with some parts on my back to make those two things happen. And a lot of guys would have quit law guys would have given up

Wyatt Pemberton :

and they have so we did we kind of jumped forward just ahead Yes, we went to you. He it's it's great because this kind of that kind of 2008 2009 2010 error for you was huge. I mean it was huge for the sport huge for the industry huge for King the hammers blowing up. But you went from your, you know, your pro mob build to sit and back and go on. I need something else and you ended up with a twist of customs car. I'm just confirming. Was it Yoshi whose car was whose it was I don't remember how you ended up in a buggy though. And I know there's a story like around you talking to your father about it. And the direction you're wanting to go? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker :

it was one of those things where we sat around, we were building that pro mod car after I qualified through the RC q which, you know, we can come back to we're sitting around a campfire up up in Brant Lake, I was part of the North Jersey Jeep club. And a lot of those guys that were part of that club were a part of my race effort for RCT right and they were going to come out and help me It came the hammers and we were kind of trying to put On paper the what we needed to make that pro mod, even a rock racer, let alone the endurance race car. A big big chunk of change later after added up all the parts I was like, This is stupid like this car is not it's an inch and a half oh nine, five proma that's 48 inches wide with a four cylinder cylinder on it like, this is not a college car. I'm joking myself if I take this out west to if I'm going to put the time and effort into take this car out there and mind you, I still had all I had it was a beat of YG at the time that you know all of the direction from my TJ which met its fate just from years of trying to follow guys like yourself in two cars, right rock rollin All I had was my jeep. And I say that because I was Jeep on 35 as following guys and buggy country and cutting lines that cars on stick, you know, 40 inch sticky tires and the eights were running. And we were on all this stuff in jeeps and that's kind of what you know led me to build that first buggy but as a transitionary thing, we were wheeling every other weekend, so I was always in my jeep kind of getting seat time but Man, it really showed in the aesthetics of it because that thing was just completely hammered.

Wyatt Pemberton :

raisin completely reason

Unknown Speaker :

that poor what Lola TJ like I said I had to pull the good parts out of it to put in a y j that are linked and put on air shocks just to have another vehicle to recreate in. And that's the vehicle that qualify for QH and a y j on air shocks and 30 sevens and oh my god, look back and we thought we were fast we really did nothing. So so the twisted car came to be after sitting around that fire and figuring out what we really needed to invest to go out west and even have a chance of competing so my plan at that point was to you know, we're running out of time this was like the end of the summer, and K which is in February. So my plan at the time was hopefully to get a twisted customs roller or or you know, chassis that was suspension and drive train mounts and finish it out myself and go out there for that first race and like Kind of gravitated toward their their cars because they had a signature look, I think that was important, you know, always the buggies looking like something. Those guys were always very successful. So I called called up Jason and and talked to him out there and told him what I was after. And, you know, they they kind of laughed and said, yeah, we can have one you can deliver to the lake bed this, this roll, right? And I'm like, that's just I have to have something to race. And they're like, Well, you know, we're kind of Firestone on some stuff off and actually scaling down the size of the shop and the operation. We're getting rid of some of our cars. We have one for sale. And I told him I said, I'm not interested at all. I thought that they were selling that YG that had the yellow to work. That was a promo xR a car was had been around forever. I think both Brian and Joe from raced it together. And he was like, No, no, no, no, it's not that car. We bought one last year that has only raised co H and like one or two other x rays and has been parked. And I said, Okay, you know, now I'm interested Because I didn't want some an old record, like I was gonna build that anyway, I knew that that wasn't gonna work. Ah, he told me about this thing. They built it specifically for kena hammers, they built it 54 inches with the VA, and you know, big two and a half inch coil overs, which is funny today, right? That was a big thing then. And all spider tracks running gear and tell me the price on it. And it was literally a fire sale. And it was actually a lower number than all those parts. I needed to convert my rock crawler in any way to go raise kingo hammer. So, you know, I kind of went to my dad and said, hey, look, I said this is like the fall already. I said, I've got to build something. I want to build something. But the time isn't there and I don't have the experience to do it from scratch all myself right now. I was very real about that. And I don't think I would have even made king of the hammers, let alone done. Well, if we went that route, I essentially asked him for a loan to get this whole thing going and ball rolling down the hill so we can pick this car up, come home, brace it back east here. That rash they had a series going on there at the time and then stripped down over the winter and go racing ahead was in February and that's what we did my buddy Jake and I, you know my my dad took my word for it and and you know, invested in me and had faith that I would be a man of my word and pay him back on his investment and you really gave me the road to go kind of prove myself to them and make something of myself and went out there bought that car and brought it home first race I raced it at Rush DNF I stuffed that car on on one of those ridges on its nose all in a mess and tried to try to back about it. I mean, literally it was just up on its front tire stuffed in a hole and you weren't getting it out, blew up a front stub and this is this is actually a turning point for me. You know I thought this thing was what a machine right indestructible like wow this thing is not there was a spider tracks outer and DNF that first race and again looked back at it and said what could I have done differently? Well, colo spider tracks it. Need to get a stub Tom Kingston, obviously, who own spider tracks at the time they were a smaller company said to me, he goes, he goes, wait, you broke What? And I told him and he said that from this the twisted car that they built last year. Yeah, that's a 335 point stub, he broke that. I'd love to see it. I said, Okay, sure. He said, Who

Wyatt Pemberton :

He Who are you?

Unknown Speaker :

You know, and I said, um, you know, Eric from the east coast, we need to keep in touch. So I sent Tom that axle shaft back, you know, he warrantied it in good faith. And again, I didn't really think much of it at the time, because I was so focused on that next race and getting ready for it. Where, how can I improve? Well, that next race, we got that stuff, got the car back together, went out. My dad said, What do you think you did wrong? So I was trying to be fast. He said, Why don't you try to finish this time? I said, I'm serious. This is true. He said, Well, why don't you just try to finish and see how you do? damned if we didn't go out and win that race and win by a pretty big margin. And can I had to reflect on that Wyatt and say You know, my dad was right, I go, I need to finish these races before I even think about trying to get faster first, right because I was so new to all this. That was my first win in that car and it was after that we went we decided to go out for Thanksgiving holiday, right which is a big thing in Johnson Valley to go. I'd never been west of Moab. Right and I kind of went out there for Easter Jeep on my own just to see it. So I had to go see this area that we were going to go race in Johnson Valley because it was so really mystical loss. We didn't know what the heck, I never been to the desert, right? I never run a desert race. So we loaded this twisted car up and on a flat deck trailer with my wife j and Kevin ladder and my co driver Robbie and myself drove it out there in my dodge. We spent the week on the lake bed. We pulled up with an equipment trailer and this old dodge dually you know we're surrounded by diesel pushers and toters and toy haulers and you know, like a mini king of the hammers on like better Thanksgiving or we're like what The hell are we getting ourselves into? Right? We're these rednecks from Maryland with a beat why j and on this equipment trailer, we spent that entire week out there going off, twisted his old kale h route. I got to see the old course that was in that low Rance. And I just kind of went through it like it was like I was studying for an exam and just learned, what were the gotchas out there. Because, I mean, you watch desert racing, you see, the trophy trucks just, you know, ripping down the sides of roads doing harm miles an hour. And you just think from an East Coast standpoint, desert racing is all about speed can be further from the truth, right? That's what it looks like from the outside. But when you actually go out and and see what what you have to navigate and get through, man, there's a lot of pitfalls in the desert. That's where that race is lost. Right? That's where king of the hammers is lost to me. And I learned that that first Thanksgiving and if it wasn't for that first pre run and doing that, I don't think I would have finished in 2010, honestly, so it kind of all fell into place. We did that pre run brought that car home. stripped into a bare chassis and prepped it fully for qH and went out there that first year finished fifth. So that's kind of the short of how it started.

Intro/Outro :

Stay tuned, your talent tank is in full yet.

Wyatt Pemberton :

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Intro/Outro :

Now back to the show.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, you went to ej, ej s and Moab and that was me jumping back just right in front of this was that really your first time out to Moab? Is that when you kind of fell in love?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it was I mean, I was I was 18 at the time because I was a freshman in college and yes, I convinced my my buddy my best friend from high school Jordan who was my first spotter for new rock and all that stuff and I convinced him said hey you know he was him and I were always we race mountain bikes together and not you know spent all high school you know exploring stuff camping the whole nine yards. I said, Dude, let's let's take our spring break like forget going to the beach. Doing all that kind of crap because it's not our scene. So let's go to Moab. And he was like, pre serious and like, Yeah, let's do that. Like he's like, well, I don't even know where to start. I said, neither do I. But I know where it is. Let's go.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Right and so I love this plan.

Unknown Speaker :

We Yeah, that was the plan. That was the extent of the planning. I know where it is. Let's go. I didn't even know we weren't even signed up through the rhetoric for real or anything at that point. We told my wife or my TJ out there, just Gemini man that trip again. It was one of those like, life experiences that really kind of molded me because we were just we were just stupid. 18 year old kids. It's funny because that trip is where we met john Kappa and Christian Hazel just by chance they were fooling around on dump off and we were going to run Hell's revenge for the first time alone. In this TJ It was like an O three Rubicon that we clicked and Adam and I had done a one times under and you know, I had to be Dan stripping down because I knew I was going to compete that year. And those guys saw the Jeep as we went across the ridge and I waved that on because I knew what Trucks look like and all that. And they caught up to us on escalator. And they were like, so what's your Jeep? You know, what's your story? And, you know, didn't really think much of it. I said, Yeah, you know, we had this Jeep, it's just my daily driver. We're gonna compete with it this year. And they were like, is that thing really? rukon? I'm like, Yeah, like, why, you know, they're like, things like, almost knew you're gonna compete. But then I'm like, yeah, that's what I got. You know? It's like, it's my car. I that's, I don't know how else to do it. They have a stock classes. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do. And they thought that was just the craziest thing. They said, Well, we might if we tag along and take some pictures, like this thing's really cool. I'm like, Yeah, that'd be awesome. So we went with them for the day. didn't think anything of it. Right. And that was an April. Get back. They contacted me said, Hey, just submit some specs on this thing. Like we might do a little write up on it. In the future. We thought it was cool. Nice meeting you. Sounds great. They called me in November. I was a sophomore. You know, starting my first deal of business classes starting marketing the whole nine yards. It was john cafe said hey, I finally got that far. Michael Dunn is going to be in the December issue. So check it out on the newsstand when you get a chance. And he kind of chuckled at me. I said, All right, cool. You know, I didn't think anything of it. I walked in, like I did every month to Barnes and Noble to pick up four wheeler JP, the whole nine yards, right? Because we

Wyatt Pemberton :

used to do that.

Unknown Speaker :

Every month, I loved it. And why it hit me it slapped me in the face. Like, there was this gold truck on orange Mr. W's on the cover of GQ magazine in December 2005. And I was like, holy shit, that's, you know, that was me. I was like, that is and he didn't tell me it was the cover shot. Right. He let me he let that be a thing. Yeah, so that kind of was like so surreal, and really showed me like, wow, I can do something with this. I can do something with this. As far as a marketing standpoint, and I use that first article and JP to really kind of Garner my first set of sponsors for 2005 because I had nothing to go off of. I was just some kid that wanted to go rock crawling. So you know, I had no credibility. Right whatsoever. I'm just Joe Schmo, I'm gonna go compete, help me out, right. And I got my first round of support through a lot of people that I had already been using their products, like, you know, BF Goodrich and you know spider tracks and people that really kind of help help me get started. And I think that's that's a cool story.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I do I love that I think we're I keep trying to highlight it and I think in your you're spot on, and it means your life, but it's all the little touch points that happened early on in between 2014 2005 2006 all the way through nine, you kept having these really insanely cool, good people, great humans come into your life. Tom Kingston at spar tracks. An amazing human that guy. I mean, love to get inside his head. I don't know I'd probably it probably is in binary. I don't know. But yeah, that you've had these amazing little, little touch points that have directed you and shifted you into effectively starting Miller Motorsports. And then When you guys in with the twist a customs car from, from Jason Polly and Joe from with your dad support and Miller most sports being born, but you you're almost playing it versus you were in Cumberland, Maryland in the middle of nowhere you prep out of a pole barn. And you get you know, I think one year if the story was told to me correctly, that for one one year, your father gave you a welder for Christmas. That was like,

Unknown Speaker :

That's right. That's very true. And that's because I didn't have anyone to like, kind of show me the way and it's funny. My oldest brother Robert, he's a in a metal fabrication. He's like I said, he's a physician as well as my other brothers. But he was he has this engineering mind, right? He should have all my brothers. None of them should have been doctors. They all have these amazing talents in other industries like my brother, he should have been an engineer. My youngest brother, he's, it's funny. He actually retired and he does some volunteer stuff with Habitat for Humanity. So he's a carpenter. He's phenomenal. My middle brother Doug, he's Probably one of the best athletes out of all of us and a super talented musician, like all of us have these skill sets outside of like I said, I was good at medicine, but I just I didn't love it. And those guys, it wasn't their passion. Like it is my father's My dad was very, very passionate about medicine, and helping people. And it was why he was so successful his job and he always says he never worked a day in his life because he enjoyed it so much. But I circle back to that welder for Christmas, when I tried to help me where he could because this was this unknown for us. Like, the first thing that ever happened was when I had had that TJ was tore the gears out of it right, just from being stupid kid and running mud, right, got water in the depths, wrecked the rear end had to re gear it anyway, because I was going to bigger tires trying to learn all this stuff. And he's like, well, how are you going to fix that? I'm like, I don't know. Take it to a shop like Well, I don't know. What's that gonna cost? I don't know. gears are 1000 1500 bucks plus the labor I mean, you're two grand or more, right? And he's like, well, that's crazy. You know, like he goes, I don't want to do that. I'm like, I don't blame you. Here's what's the other option. It's sitting. I'm like, Well, why don't you do it yourself? And like, because I don't know how he's like, Well, why don't you learn? I'm like, Alright, I'm, I would love to learn. He goes, Okay, so do it. I said, Well, I don't have the tools he goes are only if you deal. You figure out what tools you need. And you figure out how to set up gears. And I will, I will buy you those tools. I said, Alright, that sounds like a great deal. So he invested in me, so that I could learn these skills because I didn't have any other way to do it. And I really am so grateful for that, because without his support in that regard, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn how to set up gears as a welder for Christmas when we were building that teacher to compete because my brother taught me how to weld on a little Miller Thunderbolt stick while they're at the you know, on a summer vacation, but I didn't have any equipment to do it. That was my brother's wall there. But you know, my brother showed me how to weld got me interested in hooked in that. And then my dad being there to say, all right, well, if you're gonna build a roll cage, you need to weld it together. And I said, Yep. And I bought a used tubing bender from Clayton Clayton and bought a better one. And so it was all kind of all this timing worked out well. And like I said, my dad knew I wanted to build my cage. So Bob bought that use Bender, and he bought me a Miller Matic 251. And I still at Miller Motorsports, use that well there every single day. And it's it's kind of a special thing for me, because, you know, I learned to weld on a thing. And without him, I wouldn't have been able to do that. So I've always tried to take every opportunity that I've been afforded, and make the absolute most of it and never, never leave anything on the table. Because like I said, there's a lot of people that don't have the opportunity or even worse, have the opportunity and squander it

Wyatt Pemberton :

doing less with more. Definitely huge key to being successful. I said that wrong. I'm gonna rephrase that even I won't even cut it out doing more with less, not less, absolutely more with less. Absolutely Yeah.

Unknown Speaker :

That's been My whole racing career from trying to race a Jeep up through really where I'm at now and where I still currently am, because I'm still racing a straight axle car against a field of independent cars. And we I mean the numbers show it we are holding our own and doing it doing it very well.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So no chicken wings, nothing yet

Unknown Speaker :

and nothing in the pipeline. I mean, we've talked about it like obviously it's it's not a secret that for a lot of the racing venues Reno and you know, Ridgecrest desert stuff Peck even some of the desert section is the king of the hammers independent is is king. I mean, it absolutely has its advantages over a solid axle platform. But I built the cars that we run today for one reason and that was to winking and the hammers and to do it in 2020. And it'd be our platform with a different driver and maybe right behind Josh to solid axle cars on the podium. When you know, this whole trend is is independent is so special to me. I think it's funny because irfs is definitely superior in these venues were racing today. But if you took the top 20 Ultra for guys, and I'll stand behind this, and you put those people in a pro chassis or another, you know, proven reliable solid axle platform, those same guys would be finishing right where they're finishing. It's not the independent. Right? It definitely is more forgiving in the desert. But it's the it's the teams. It's the talent, it's the components. It's, it's so much more than the suspension. I think people really overlook that because we're doing more with less, but it's not just the suspension. That is why those independent cars are successful. Well, I you know, talking with Bleiler about this, I think you guys heard a significant advantage in the rocks, just not in the survivability in the endurance of the solid axle. But in the stability, maneuverability. Absolutely. Those cars we talked about, you know, we'll get into the straps. I'm sure Josh talked about that. But I even increased my steering angle A little bit more for that. This king of the hammers with the added wheelbase to kind of get me back to my status quo of where I was before. And we were able to do that, ironically, because we ran the prototype spider trucks pro you joined this year, which gave us the ability to do that and maintain the strength. So it's funny, I'll circle back but that first broken stub shaft connecting me to Tom Kingston and him seeing the I don't know if he saw the value in me, but he was just like, kind of blown away that I've grown back because it had never been done. It had not been seen. He'd never seen it with his part. And like you said about Tom. I mean, he is as thorough as it comes. He knows his parts inside and out. They're engineered to near perfection, and why I still run his components today. But yeah, it was that first partnership with spider tracks that showed me like, Okay, this is something that can actually be a real thing, you know, getting support to go racing.

Wyatt Pemberton :

How did the pro chassis come to be something of a production chassis, there's a handful of them out there, you've got the gilberts running them, you guys run them, the boilers run them up. Got a couple out you more than a couple. You've got quite a few of them out there. How did that you go from the twisted customs car to building your own chassis in house there at Miller Motorsports to then finally, I know you shopped around your chassis to a couple different builders to see if they could build it for you under your name. And then you ended up with Josh at Big B.

Unknown Speaker :

Right. So that all stemmed from racing that switch the car and winning King from 2010 to winning king of the hammers in 2012. With that, I mean, we we raced that car, aggressively. I had three years of just racing was my entire life. I mean, it didn't really change. But when we were racing the car, we raced it hard, and we saw the caveats of it. I mean, it was a refined pro mod car with the bigger motor and bigger shocks, but it was essentially the rock crawling platform. Just to be blunt. It wasn't really a race car. And so we made a lot of changes over the years to adapt to the changes and ultra for racing and where Where we were headed so I took a lot of cues. So suppose the car had its had its downfalls. And we learned a lot working on that car, like I retrofitted bypasses onto we changed the rear layout completely to integrate a toolbox and a lower amount of spare tire, you know, went to an LS three in that thing, a whole bunch of different stuff. I mean, that car was framed off three, four years in a row with major changes, you know, cut the subframe off the tail off at the nose off it, you name it, right. So essentially, I had like this little twisted cab. And literally, it was twisted at that point like the thing was not safe after I crashed it in Antelope Valley and at the end of 2012 to race in 2013. It was just not so

Wyatt Pemberton :

yeah, I remember you guys were doing something with a subframe like driving 7075 aluminum Yes. Inside of the DLM. Is that right?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, you're correct. And that came out of trying to build the subframe of that twisted Carter to not cave in when I would hit rock I mean, we all were in uncharted territory and ultra for with the speed that we were going and the terrain we were trying to traverse. And yeah, repairing that car. I mean, I'm literally the one year we cut it apart. The two front leading suffering tubes were so far caved in, they were concaved that literally the OD the tube had concave to the other side. And the intention, the other side of the tube was almost flat. And that gave us the idea to sleeve it right, we can cut it out and sleeve that with with solid aluminum behind it. And that issue went away. So we took everything that we have learned over the three years of racing the twisted car and winning King in the hammers with it, which was a lot a lot of data and cues from you know, we're all heavily invested in racing and from desert to short course, you name it, if it's a form of off road racing, we follow it just because we're Maryland doesn't mean we don't and we took all the cues that you know we saw over the years from trophy trucks and short course vehicles and Ultra for cars and tried to meld them into the what the dual best unlimited four wheel drive built to win Kane the hammers, and that's how the pro chassis came to be as far as its design, its layout, its structure, I wanted it to look like similar to a twisted car. So much so that I even called Jason up before we built that thing and said, Hey, I'm gonna build my car because I have the time and knowledge and ability now. And I want to use a lot of the design cues. Heck, I want to put the same front clip back on it. Are you cool with that? And he's like, yeah, you don't even have to ask me that. I'm like, Well, I you know, that's too I'm not going to go building a car that looks like yours and say Here it is. Because it is drastically different. And it's funny, because Jason gave me kind of the ultimate compliment a couple years ago, he said, Man, I hope I'm in a position one day to be able to own one of your cars. And I laughed at I laughed at Jason and I said, Dude, I said I feel the exact same way. I hope I'm in a position one day where I can call you up and say Jason, I will Another twist a customs Rock Crawler and I want to go pick it up, you know, I hope I can put myself in that position because those things are awesome.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Absolutely both ways I can see how that's a two way street that anyone would love to be on. One of the things that you do with your car that I thought aesthetically, it just made me smile was right after I rolled my car out and I stole the line from it. It was from Josh Daniels at Dan's yo performance his his class one car Sheila how the brow you know, the above the windshield, the roof rolled forward and had a nice beautiful curve to it. It was kind of one of the earlier desert cars that had gone that route. And having that conversation with easy Rick Mooney ham about, Hey, this is kind of what I want the brown car to look like because the brow that it had on it. When Dave Schneider DSI had sold me the chassis was different. It was a Trent fat brow. Ya know that? downward? Yep, downward V and I yes, it didn't have that desert vibe that I really wanted to go forward. So you know, pick up my roof off and that was what went on. And then after the first couple races, you went to the roll group as well. And I just smiled. I was like, it looks so much

Unknown Speaker :

better. It does. And so the roll the roof is it was a thing when we did it because I liked the flat roof look, as opposed to like, you know, Lance's Chupacabra and Travis Carpenter had that. I think it was a trump card that had the roof was almost like it got rolled like a ball. I mean, it was just it got to the point where it was like too much rolling his roof.

Wyatt Pemberton :

There was an era there were a lot of people that it was like, they got the harbor freight tube roller, and they just went batshit crazy,

Unknown Speaker :

right? And I liked the look of the flat roof. But I love the idea from an engineering stamp point of the third dimension that a rolled roof gave you in chassis design. So I said, Alright, let's integrate it and make it so subtle that you have to look at it twice and say is that actually rolled so we literally rolled it like it's a half an inch roll like a degree off. So it's there and it's there for functionality, but it gives it that little aesthetic wear, you know, it's rolled and it's pretty cool and I'll touch on that later when we talk about the business in the direction of the chassis sales, because we kind of change that up for one of our new products.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Oh, cool. Excellent. So yeah, so you ended up just trial and error with the twisted customs card and then building your own car and then that ultimately ended up becoming the pro chassis that you're offering and selling today. How many those are racing an ultra for today?

Unknown Speaker :

It's funny because we started serializing Oh, and Casey Gill Gilbert will tell you he has the first one he does and he has like the first pre prototype prototype I call it negative Oh on mine was 000 right? But he had built one and then Bleiler his original is the first real production car that's oh one and that was the car that uh, that he started racing ultra for with anyway, he has to now I'm sure you guys know that at this point. But there's probably 10 actively racing right now with a couple more in the works and, you know, kind of devising a plan to make them more attainable at this point to get more out there.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Ended Your phone start ringing off the hook after 2020 where you put one in third. And why would put one in first?

Unknown Speaker :

Yes, it was, I think, again, it solidified the fact that you don't have to have an IFSP or even guys with IFRS cars call me to say, well, maybe I want to build one just for King of the hammers or you know to use as a prerunner and keep my IHS car round for some other races. And I'm like, if you have the ability to do that, that is a fantastic way to approach it because there are races like, I wouldn't race an IFRS car on the East Coast, you will get smoked by a narrow straight axle car at some of these venues. So they'll have their place

Wyatt Pemberton :

trees. Yeah, just just the trees. Well, I think the first time I ever at least remember racing against you was in Kentucky, and I feel like it was 2015 maybe it was 2014 But uh, it was that Sturgis event. I show up with this. god awful large. Well, at least with with in length, you know, desert car. It's a desert car. Oh, yeah. And, man, I bent my rear axle housing coming out of the woods like I think I was in the airport 10 feet in the air and hooked a tree with it and I'm surprised that treated you know come down but yeah bit my housing from there but we know tangling i i don't i was in front of you on course and we went into this this concrete pile it was a pile of fucking concrete yeah off the short course it was a right skews my language about it because I'm custom because there was chunks of rebar sticking out of this thing. And I I go through it and I literally ripped a tire like damn near rip the tire off and I do one lap and it's now it's rip my brake caliper is now I don't have front brakes at this point. Come in. I think it was the surely Shirley's and somebody else jumped on and help cut the tire and wheel off my car to put another one on. I think I finished 11th but you you flatted a tire directly behind me but you kept going and then post race you were yelling at me and I was like, What the hell did I do today? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker :

yep. I remember that very well. It was funny. Yeah, that was a hard race that was nasty that again, I don't know the year or anything but I remember being right up there in front and coming to pass there and it was I don't know if we were on a physical first or whatnot, but we were up there and lost that tire and that was like, you know, that was the the race for me we still I think we still finished I don't know how it went. But that was the wind for me. And I was like, Damn,

Wyatt Pemberton :

it was the the heat where you and Lauren tangled front bumpers, like yeah, and you rotate it around and we were stuck about Yeah, half the field went by you guys in dust and never knew it. Like never knew that we went by you because the dust was a crazy race.

Erik Miller :

I love it. I love old race stories. They're so good.

Wyatt Pemberton :

But yeah, so you've got you've got the pro chassis going now and I think you guys did you and Josh again proving You do not need an IFRS car to go winking the hammers that you've really solidified it and when we go back and look at the stats of what you've done with your chassis in just the last six starts aka ah that You haven't finished up the top four. I think, man that that sends a huge signal that I know Don't get me wrong, I do love is in the fact that the older you get the better. It's, you're not beat up the next day, like you're not even you know, it's it's fully feels like cheating, you know going from a solid axle car to go to IFRS car, your orbitals, you know your herbal sockets aren't bouncing, you know, I mean, you're able to keep better vision a little bit better control the car, but at the same time you're set you're giving up, you know Cush and comfort for endurance, and the solid axle is certainly proven to be an endurance winner.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. And that that falls into I agree with this, too. And it falls into the fact that the trend has leaned IFRS it's kind of like the data is skewed because the top drivers are picking that anyways, it's like this, the COVID numbers right now of the number of cases it's like well, we don't have all the data Well, we don't have all the data because these guys have already crossed over and I fast cars back in the day. Solid axle cars were rock crawlers they were donkeys like they were never built as all out race cars like this pro chassis platform was and that's that's one of the things in 13 when we built it that winter we crashed it there in Antelope Valley. Like I said, we came back to the shop I had, you know, it was a team effort. I mean, I did not do that car alone by any means. I had Dom Balducci and john Belushi two of my really good friends had been racing with me since you know, the beginning there since like 2010 2011 and we built that car together in that pole barn that I saw Miller Motorsports out of in that that winter and we had a plan going into it but I mean, it was just a list of attributes that we were going to accomplish on this car so we took that whole really built that car in three months because it started after Halloween November December, January. I remember finishing that thing up and pushing it into the trailer to go to King and hammers because it wouldn't on you know, we were dealing with with tuning issues, but yet we built that car, it was a long winter, we worked literally 16 hour days around the clock, three of us and then all the other guys, when they get out of work come home in the evenings or on the weekends to get that thing done. It was a quite a feat because it was completely from scratch, out of our heads and three of us collaborating to do it. So you know how that goes. It's like one guy thinks this is the way to do something, another guy thinks this is a better way. You know, it was really it kind of proved to me, you know, it takes takes a good team and people being able to work together and we we really kind of put any differences aside and and forge down that path of building the best car that we possibly could. And I'm really proud because when we took it from that first prototype to production, I'll circle back on how we did that with with Bleiler 90% of that car is really unchanged as far as the original ideas now we refine things. I mean, we made it so you could you know, put an impact on every link bolt and little things like that right little serviceability things because that's One of the hardest things about building an ultra for car trying to cram 10 pounds of crap in a five five pound bag. It makes it hard to work on.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And that's exactly what Josh said. Josh said Josh is Marian exactly what you even said. He said at one point that he and john I'll do cheap they argued one entire evening about moving a tube. And ultimately the tube was only the movement was a quarter inch. It was a quarter, but the quarter inch changed the serviceability immensely.

Unknown Speaker :

It's ridiculous when you really cut it apart, how detail oriented we have gotten with this pro chassis, from the idea in 2015 to just I had the thing was we built this prototype platform that I was racing and doing very well with and winning. And guys started coming to us and this kind of Miller Motorsports came to be and wanting us to build a car and I'm like, you don't want you just don't want us to bill you for the hours. These things take to go by hand. It's just it's astronomical. It's crazy. It really moves motivated me to do a laser car right? You know where technology was this day and age with CAD and SolidWorks and the tooling available. So I knew that was the the future and the wave. So this whole thing started out of meeting with Josh and I always want to do laser cut car we were trying to figure out how to do it. You mentioned we even talked to that first car Casey is racing. We cut the whole subframe and, and belly and cab area here in Maryland partnership I have with plasma cam, you know, we did it on a plasma table with a tube cutter attachment, because it was all drawn in CAD. And then we finished it with Jimmy's four four with Randy rod we were going to work together have because he was already doing laser cut cars out there. And we were just going to kind of add ours to his arsenal and let him sell it and us build it. And it's just, you know, Randy has a lot going on and a lot of different platforms. And I just kind of wanted to keep our ability to do whatever we needed to in house. And that was around the time that Josh had came to me and said, I want to race this, this king of the hammers, I want to build a car. I said, All right, and I just again was kinda like, Dude, this is just such a big deal and put one of these things together. He said, Well, how about we partner up on it? And I said, Okay, you know, what do you what do you mean by that? What do you want to do? He said, Well, you guys have all the knowledge he gives. You have a proven track record, you have a proven car. He goes, and I have some resources that you don't, you know, and one of the big things was full in house engineering and his job shop, right. They had full forming and laser capabilities and everything else he goes, so I can help with the actual engineering of it. And you guys like, essentially teach us like, show us the way and we'll work together on this VR guides down this crazy path of this laser car. And when I say this, it was just a chassis at that point. We were just gonna do a chassis. So we shook on it. We said yep, we both pretty much have even stake in the game. You help me out help you and we'll build a build a car together. Well, the chat Got Donald, we looked at I said, Well, we've come this far. Let's put suspension directory mounts on. We did that, and cut that. And that's the other thing about the process. You took a year of this engineering and prototyping to actually come to be Josh's first car. The original production car was built in pieces, we did a chassis, we cut it, we put it together, then we cut all the suspension brackets, Bill fixtures, and put them on that chassis. It wasn't completely designed in SolidWorks. And then we hit print and do everything because that just doesn't work. There's a lot of things that will interfere with one another. We changed a lot of stuff along the way, by design, prototype, and back and forth. And it took a year it was actually 2015 and I almost took that year off from racing. If you look back, I only raised king of the hammers and Reno and I did that because we were developing this this whole platform so the snowball started off the mountain. It was just going to be a chassis. And the way Josh and I both are we said well we did this much we did this far let's Why stop here. Go for you need before you know it We had this production platform and here we are.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I think it's a good spot. I think you guys are in a really good spot and I really had no idea until just before talking to Bleiler, I actually got it from Casey Gilbert was that you guys had the production chassis wasn't made in house by you guys there at middle of our sports I didn't know the Big B was involved in that. And that's the buyers involvement on it. I really find it to be one of the coolest partnerships going on and ultra for today.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, so we have that was the other thing Josh and I wanted the ability to you know, we partner together but we will do our own work. We actually built our own custom chassis table. He's got one I've got one we built actual tables, the whole nine yards. And so we both in Pennsylvania and Maryland have the construction ability to put pro chassis see other the laser tube and forming is done on the west coast and we do all of the in house. laser cutting for flat plate informing At big Bay, so yeah, Miller Motorsports we do assembly like like they do as well. So it's a collaborative effort between us both

Wyatt Pemberton :

totally sick, totally sick. Let's move forward. I want to talk about one little partnership because it's a question that I've had just in the back of my head. This is the forum by which I can ask a good question that I wouldn't normally find the answer to. And then we can then I want to delve into k which 2020 but last year k wage 2019. You teamed up with Robby Gordon on the Jeep Gladiator. How did that whole race come to be? How did that happen? I find it completely amazing. You guys were able to finish with that truck. But Wow, what's the story behind that?

Unknown Speaker :

It's funny, it's one of those crazy stories to Robbie's always been an acquaintance of mine. He's a you know, Charlotte based guy and I have ties to Charlotte to to my older brothers are down there. My dad has a place down there on Lake Norman so I spend a lot of time down in that that area and it's funny, you know, pack moved down there the whole nine yards, but uh, I knew Robbie just threw his Racing and being really a fan of what he had going on. And Dave Cole called me just one day randomly. It was one of those Dave Cole calls. I'm actually sitting in the hospital at Western mental health system with Leah. And, you know, waiting for, you know, she's getting induced to have had an X and right. This is the beginning of January. So we're heavy in the middle of cage prep and Dave calls and he actually called me about something not even relevant to this, the CMC race, but he goes, Oh, hey, and by the way, Jeeps on board, they're gonna race a 4600 Gladiator, and I can't think of anybody better to drive that thing in the rocks, Robert, Robby Gordon's gonna race it, but uh, he doesn't he's not gonna run the rocks, would you do it? And I kind of laughed and I said, Yeah, look, what's the catch? You know, it can't be that easy, right to show up and just drive it and it wasn't it certainly wasn't we we got out there and everything was behind schedule. The thing had to be built in literally two weeks. It was late being delivered to savvy savvy did the build of it came down to the wire Actually, I didn't know I was even qualifying the jeep. It was getting finished up that afternoon before we had to qualify it. It didn't have lockers. I went over to Gerald's compound and said, you know, are you you guys are still working on seeing like, I haven't even driven it yet. And Dave just told me that I'm the guy qualifying it, I thought Robbie was driving it and I said, like, we gotta go and just take it and I said, I have to put a wrench on every bolt under this chassis before I get in this thing. Like I can't I cannot go drive as fast as I can around qualifying loop without knowing that we put our hands on this thing. So I brought it brought it back to my pit. We spent 30 minutes like eight of me and my guys under it checking every nut and bolt with Loctite torque wrenches swap needles on it and went out and qualified put that thing on the pole with no lockers. I was worried I wouldn't even make it up shortbus let alone get that thing around the track. But what a crazy crazy thing. full commitment. Yeah, it was and if that wasn't bad enough, that being the first time I drove it Dave comes up to the window as I'm sitting like, you know, staged ready to go to guys and he goes, you'll never who Guess who I got off the phone with. And I said, I don't know Dave who is the president of Jeep? I'm like, oh, cool, like, hopefully he's like excited about this. He goes, he told me, he goes, they want to pull the plug on this whole thing. I'm like, okay, like, we don't have to do this. You tell me like I'm just driving the thing. I don't know what to do. He goes, No, no, no, that's not what's happening. said okay. He goes, this race is ran out of that. 10 not that tech. And I said, Okay, he goes, so he goes, I told him this thing is running. And that was that he goes so don't screw this up.

Wyatt Pemberton :

No pressure right at the line

Unknown Speaker :

any any walks away and I'm sitting there I look over at Rob. I'm like, Is he serious right now? Did he really just come up to me like two minutes before I'm leaving, and tell me that the the pressure of Chrysler and FIA watching this vehicle this is their first dive back into racing since God only knows how long the weight of that is on my shoulders. If I screw this They're gonna pull the plug on the whole program. And I haven't even driven a car. I said, Rob, I just said forget that that even happened. I said, I don't even care I can't do anything about that. And that's one thing My dad always taught me. He said, If you can't do anything about something, don't worry about it right? It's like a rocking chair. Don't do anything Don't worry about it. So I said let's just go put down a good time. And we had a good run and the rest is kind of history nothing.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Oh no, they got miles and miles and miles of media out of that encouraging content out of that finished that was a that was something else. Oh my god.

Unknown Speaker :

It was stressful. And Teres with Rob Bobby. That was that was pretty cool. I really got to give him credit I did in person after the race but I have a lot of respect for his program the way he did it because he has a bad reputation about being kind of a checkers or records kind of guy, especially in in the desert world with his trophy trucks. And I told Robbie the night before the race I said Listen, this is not a trophy truck. I like I know you understand that. But this thing is fragile. Like I need you to get me a car that's 100% because if it is broken or hurt, I will not not be able to get it through the rocks. Like it's really important that you're smart in the desert. He said, I know I know. The same thing that morning I said Robbie, just take it easy on the thing. And I have to give him credit because he did a phenomenal job that came back around in the same shape that left the line and I was really really impressed. So it was just a good team effort. Everybody knows the story about me in the rocks that day. It didn't have lockers that were functioning just to finish that race in that Jeep which was the goal was a feat. I had two co drivers to do it. And I needed every last bit of that and man I have never watched more in my life. It was hard bringing a gladiator on 35 through the hammers trails have no locking desk but we did it it was awesome.

Wyatt Pemberton :

It was a feat and got a lot of people on their feet. When you guys did come back in in the dark man as is impressive.

Unknown Speaker :

Well, we we really enjoyed it. I love 4600 I've raced it before and I hope to do it again. We actually won that race in 2014 in a in a Grand Cherokee. A lot of people don't know about that, but I really enjoy that class because of my rock rolling It's I think it's a good feeder for ultra for so I hope that stays around.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I think it will right

Erik Miller :

now. Yeah.

Intro/Outro :

Stay tuned. Your talent tank is in full yet.

Wyatt Pemberton :

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Intro/Outro :

Now, back to the show.

Wyatt Pemberton :

jumping forward, it's not really forward, we're just up to Current Affairs. Ah 2020 just recently in the books said it before you can look on the internet you see it's all our Facebook you you end up you know, finishing third. There was a lot of chaos post race around what the finishes look like with some timing and stuff. But that aside, how was your race? I talked to you midweek that week and everything seemed to be going really really really well. And obviously It ended up doing really well but how was another there's a lot to unpack here But how was your How was your prep How was your team? How pre running go? I think the only issue I saw you have midweek was you had a water pump that was weeping a little bit. But other than that

Erik Miller :

it's funny that that water pump when you put

Unknown Speaker :

like a problem that had been going above the water pump wasn't the weeping wasn't the issue the car that Carver since I built that had been running hot and I could never figure it out. We changed literally almost everything in the system. Never had issues with GM factory water pumps which were running and that was like the last thing that had never been changed. In the two years I've been racing that car, I kind of said we didn't have issues I that whole week felt like one issue after another and each day I felt like I was getting pushed back further further further from shock tuning to qualifying the whole nine yards it was it was pretty stressful. Just because I felt like I wanted to be further along than I was. And we had the coolant out of that car probably four times chasing this problem. We're putting a new water pump on it and The car in 25 degrees cooler like, amazing change in difference. And still I'm not sure if it was the difference in the machining of that pump, whether the impeller didn't engage as far and where it was creating cavitation whatever was wrong with that water pump there was from the dead first day I put it on, it was wrong. But we got the car together and got it all bled. And like I said, our pre run was a disaster this year, because my razor kept breaking. It's stupid. It's an old razor. It's got like 5000 miles on it, but it's part of the program as part of the prep. We go through it every year. And we just had we had some bad wheel bearings off the shelf and it literally every time I got the pre round, we lost a wheel The first time I had to come back a second time I made it all halfway around to like the furthest part out there. And the bearings started going and I'm like, dude, I can't I just can't buy a break. So again, that kind of played into the stress three during the week is like I just didn't have all my ducks in a row. So I said, Well, this car isn't you know, tested. Let's go run that. And that's one thing I always like to do. Even though I like to pre run and have a pre run vehicle to keep miles off the race car. I'm a huge proponent of testing the race car. So I always tried to do at least one rock lap in the vehicle, because I don't care what you do coming right out of the shop, you need to put a couple miles on those things to make sure they're right. I like to put 50 to 100 on them, just easy miles. And we did that we ran all the rocks and saw the new stuff. And that was really good. And that kind of put me at a place in my head where I was like, at peace I knew the car was was ready to go and we qualified very, very well in it. I think we were like, you know, seventh off the line 13th position which was right where I wanted to be within a few seconds of the poll at King of the hammers, which is all I ever strive for, you know, you don't i don't like to be right up front of King of the hammers. This race was a good good reason why I mean, it's it's anybody's game. It's nice to have a little corrected time on your side.

Wyatt Pemberton :

So during the race, there was so many lead changes, so many, I mean, there was like 1215 I don't even know what the total changes were but it seemed like as soon as They would announce somebody was the new leader. Give them five minutes and you would have another new leader because they would break or get past or break or get past it but was mostly breaking. Your name wasn't really in that kind of that, that cloud until the towards the very end. At what point did you kind of know where you were at on the road and that you had worked your way into having a good day.

Unknown Speaker :

So I knew the whole time that we were racing, we were sticking right to our plan. that's a that's a super long, super difficult endurance race. Right? It's it's 70 hours, no matter how you slice it, and you certainly don't want it on the first lap. And, you know, we always take that approach. I mean, we're, we're definitely not slow in the desert, but I am conservative. You know, I want to get that car on just like Robbie did not 4600 class for us. You have to have equipment to race on lap three. And if you have to fix problems and deal with issues and have a car that's hurt and not 100% and you don't have anything left to race on lab three, you're kind of you kind of kid yourself and you think you're gonna win and it's just Just a matter of time this race proved it, though. It's just a race of attrition. So that strategy, it played out pretty well. And you know, hindsight being 2020 my biggest issue was losing that fan relay. I mean, we lost about an hour on the road with that mass trying to fix it. We saw a fan from Jeff McKinley, my buddy there, he let us borrow one. And we figured out retrofitting that fan on in the field, that it was the actual relay in the switch panel. That was the problem. The fan wasn't wasn't coming on and off. So you know, we had to sit there there was a time at the top of chocolate Thunder where I was like paused and people were probably wondering what the heck was wrong, because I was like at 240 degrees. I was trying to mitigate this car overheating because if you boil your cooling system over King the hammers, I mean, unless your bladders full and you got a heck of a drink or full like there's no water in the desert, so you're kind of your race is over unless you're hiking and you lose valuable time. So I was trying to keep forward progress while cooler keeping the car cool with one fan which doesn't work with these big motors. We lost a bunch of time there. So we were able to get my car linked into pit two. This is like, you know, on lap two, halfway through the day, we were doing pretty well. But at this point, we lost a lot of ground because we were limping so hard, and all the front runners and leaders had passed us. And I knew that unless we got something fixed, that we didn't really have a shot at it because the car would not stay cool even in the desert. So we lumped it into pits. We figured out the issue and this goes back to the pro chassis platform, my team, you know, having the right hand note left hands doing and everything, everything just being dialed. We figured out it was a relay. I was able to radio back you know, and I gotta give like it's even the smallest people like rugged radios we've spent a ton of time just tuning rate videos. I mean, that's that's seriously seems like a small thing but is so important on race day and got a production switch panel that Josh had a spare of out of the trailer brought it out to the remote pit guys brought it out and we swapped that panel, you know, in five minutes, it's too big cannon plugs for quarter 20s and a positive lead into it and that switch and every approach assays belt like that. So any switch panel interchange, and that's the advantage of that platform. Otherwise, we would have had to hotwire a fan up you know, half assed or whatever but anyways, it goes to prove that for thought ahead of time, really put me off on the podium because if it wasn't for that, there's no way I would have been able to pedal back so we got that fixed and I was able to drive and have a race car that was 100%

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, I think this was another you know, feather in the cap of the protest in the feather in the cap of what you guys have going with what we've seen certainly NASCAR but we're you know now seen in ultra for is multi car teams. Bleiler has his own team. He has his own guys, he has his own stuff. But the interchangeability his car like when you get into the trophy trucks that they are a lot of one offs, but still a lot of the arms from you know the guys or trucks, you can swap arms, you swap certain parts. That's a nice Kind of cushion to have that maybe you not that you purposely set out intentionally to share parts but if you needed one you kind of know who might have one to go to.

Unknown Speaker :

No we did I mean I don't know, guys are they built premier trucks but I doubt that you can take a Fender off the one trophy truck and bolted directly onto the other eye. I'd be surprised if that would work, our cars can take a body panel off and interchange them on any of those production versions. And when we set out to build these cars, we had full intention of that the whole time. From drive lines to axle shafts like our rear driveshaft we wanted to interchange with our front so we had to carry one square it's it's all those little things like that, that really play into the consistency I've had because you have to have a good machine and you have to be mechanically sound and you have to know it inside and out to do well it can't have any errors. It's such a combination of so many things coming together. And if you don't have your car, right like that's the first piece of the puzzle.

Wyatt Pemberton :

When did you know that Josh Bleiler was first on the road?

Unknown Speaker :

I heard that Josh was a Head. Probably when I was starting my lab three and heard how far ahead he was, and knew that I was like, Alright, I hope he can. I hope you can get it together because I'll tell you right now my heart sunk, he started ahead of me by a very small margin. He was like, a couple tenths of a second ahead of me in qualifying. And we joke because I said, you know, if I follow you in, I'm gonna beat you. Right? We always kind of, like you said, we have separate teams, and we have our own stuff. But we're, we're both, you know, really good teammates, but we're super rivals on the track. So I always give him heck about that. I said, I'm glad I finished, you know, two tenths behind you so I could get that 30 seconds of corrected time. And when I passed him in the desert, out at race, mile 40, or whatever, for the first time with him pull over. I know that feeling I my heart hurt, my heart sank for him because I knew he had a shot at it this year. But when I passed, and I said, Man, somebody has a good day. That might be the difference for Josh and I didn't what was wrong, right. I mean, he had a flat that's all it was. But um, when I heard he was ahead, again, it was that kind of like, I don't know, dad. And me like I'm so I was so proud that he had he was leading the race at the very least, and hopefully could pull pull it together. And then it all falls together with him. Off backdoor, doing his doing his antics, and he almost threw it away. And, again, that plays in I asked Josh at the end of it. I said, What happened? Right? I watched that and it just looked like you did nothing like I don't. That's not you What happened? He goes, Eric, he goes, I don't know. I go. You were tired, aren't you? He goes, Yeah, I was I was exhausted. And I just, I just kind of nodded my head. I thought in the back of my head. I'm a big proponent of, you know, being physically fit for this race, let alone having your car together and your team and everything else. If you as a driver can't stay mentally focused throughout that entire race. You have to make every decision right to finish and finish up front. And that could have been Josh's race, and thankfully, they were able to recover and he built enough of a lead, but I've been there I've been cresting shortbus and lost a steering pump and salt The finish line right I can see it in 2012. And I'm like, here's my race and miraculously I was able to get the car across so that's like what I love about ky it's just the aura of it like everybody thinks he has it in the bag. And that happens.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And Marcos Marcos Gomez coming in was the exact same way. like everyone's like, oh, correct a time he has him he has he has Josh buy a lot. And then he takes that blinder eyes and semi rips off the right side of his car. Exactly. Right.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it's just anybody's race until it's over. You never say never ever. That's why we push so hard once we got that car thing.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And then just telling the story about being upside down and actually end up you know, torching this motor getting in to get the finishes. Is that what an awesome story I mean, everyone has now by this point, everyone will have heard that story. But a man when he told that to me, I was like, Wow, amazing.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. He didn't have much further to go I saw that motor firsthand actually dropping the the Williams Motor off to get the machine worked on. I'm using the same shop in Pennsylvania matco that Josh uses for his motors. You know, his engine guy needs really good. And we became pretty good friends out there this that last week he came in the hammers and it's really cool to be able to use, you know, local businesses like that to do some of this work.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, support local. Mm hmm. So yeah, so you finish you, you can cross the finish line. Second, and then you have the the weight, the weight, and then Dave tells you, your second

Unknown Speaker :

with confidence with confidence that I have never seen in Dave Cole's face because I even questioned him. I said, Really, we knew we had to make up. Like, you know, 2030 minutes on on Marcos and I, I did everything in my I did my damnedest to do it, but I knew that Marcos was right there. And, you know, I personally didn't know what to think really, at that point. I said, Are you sure? Are you sure? Twice? Yeah, yep, we've verified all the VCP all the check points, check out like you're good to go. And I came over you know, and told all my And they're all like, really, you know, because we were all running our own watches and stuff like that. And they're like, awesome, like Congrats, and that was that was that and, and we celebrated and like I said, I was I really could have cared less at that point because Joshua, and that's all it matters. second, third, whatever, you know, schema numbers, if you know one key numbers, nobody cares.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And then we find out seven days later that there was a there was a timing issue on the starts, how I mean, one I feel for hammer King having to go out and address something you address a mistake versus you know, own and still having to own that mistake for life. But and there's got to be a solution right? There's got to be a solution. We've seen this happen numerous times. And I'd love to hear your take on what what you think maybe that solution could be I have an idea, but I'm not a racer.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it's it's it's a well you were and you have a great insight to everything ultra for and I mean, like this, this podcast will What you're doing I mean, it's, it's a it's a big part of the sport now because it, it helps drive innovation. It helps. I mean, look what we're talking about right now it's going to drive the direction of the future of the sport. And I think that's really important. But the timing thing is nothing new. Right? And it's ultra fours, biggest Achilles heel, if I may be so blind. And I think that that's completely unacceptable. Being the premier offroad endurance racing body in the world. The fact that ultra for doesn't even own their own timing system is I mean, that's almost unbelievable to me at this point with the millions of dollars that are invested in that body to race and the the racers have in their programs. Just seems crazy and for timing to be the one thing we keep coming back to having problems with as a racer, it just, it kills me.

Wyatt Pemberton :

And I'm right there with you. I believe we finally come to a point with as much as on the line, you know, just just in the beginning. 400 race with a $100,000 purse on the line and first being what it is, and second being what it is and, you know, paying out to 10. But you know, using the same timing system they used on Thursday for the trophy Truck Race when there's 100,000 sorry, we'll say this on Thursday when it's the T one race, trophy Truck Race. Yeah. When there's 100,000 on the line, for first place in having the certainty that the timing is correct. And then even further, let's take it the next step upstream being qualifying if how are we confident in the accuracy of the timing and there's a several ways you know, hammer King has some redundancy, they run the like RFID trackers that trip the start finish line, there's a there's a scanner at the start finish line, but then they also run the yellow bricks kind of as a redundancy that they use for the short course in the virtual checkpoints. But I think we finally gotten to the point and, and you and I talked about it in the past and in I love about you'll be having good sounding board. out there, as I've said many, many times and to bounce ideas off of one of the things that we had talked about was a year ago when hammer King eliminated the live show. It left the racer to kind of have to promote for himself he needed to cover something that previously the promoter had covered. You know how to get the word out about what his race was and, and people who listen to this show have heard me talk about Levi, surely, and Levi going out and doing a live feed from his car. Very cool. He took matters into his own hands. I think we're at this point on timing, that it's time for the racers to really take that into their own hands and own their own trackers, they can own two of them. They're not that expensive. And hammer King would have their timing system, but the racers would be responsible for the mounting of their tracker, the charging of their tracker, and then hammer King having a cold let's call it a test loop. And you have you have to run your car. across that test loop within 24 to 36 hours before the green flag. So in verify that, yes, both of my trackers work, yes, the tracker 1682 B is associated to Eric Miller and 168 to see is Eric Miller's backup tracker. So when they see that come across their system, it pops up. Number 21, Eric Miller, and at that point, it's on you to ensure that you're not worrying about walk, pulling up to the qualifying line and having a guy run up to the back of your car while you're in their helmet on, you know, pumpers blowing, you're thinking about your run. And the guy you see a guy run up to your bumper and zip tie on a tractor and you're like, what did that guy just attached to my car? Oh, that's your tracker. Are you kidding me? How do we know that that thing works? How do we know this charge? How do we know that there was a signal the first chance it's going to get to be tested, that you're going to see it come across the computer screen is when I actually tripped the start finish the start finish line to get it to go We don't even know if that makes sense.

Unknown Speaker :

And that's what happened to me king of the hammers like they strapped to all of us a tracker on our cars were staged in line for power. I'm like, this is not okay. Like you can't expect us to go throw down the fastest lap that we possibly can beat our equipment, you know, for that, that to three minutes as hard as we possibly can. And then if it doesn't, if it doesn't clock, sorry, you got to do it again. Like, we've come too far. This is it's too too far down the line for this amateur hour stuff to continue to go on. And I like your point about redundancy. This is this is ultra for and a lot of things in the evolution of the sport has necessitated redundancy, right for reliability. So I, I don't personally think the racers should be solely responsible for the timing I think that should 100% be ultra for and they should ever done it back up. But I agree that we as racers should have another means to verify if there's four GPS sources on our car from our you know lead nav or whatever program you're running to your yellow brick to your transponder with ultra for and hello like me I'm going to start wearing have a Garmin GPS watch and start using that to help overlay telemetry into our video edits that will I mean heck I'll even put my heart My heart rate at a given time but that will allow us as racers to say, well not we didn't short course here's two verifiable GPS tracks that say that we didn't and the timestamp for it and there's nothing wrong with yellow brick yellow brick starts and finishes at the same point and as long as it clicks that and you know the like you mentioned earlier why the delta is accurate so I just think there's no excuse at this point and it's something I need to figure out.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah, we need to get there I'm just sad to see that we've had kind of two years in a row with kind of issues around timing it you know, the biggest race of the year with everything that's on the line and I get it believe me I get it with with ultra for and hammer King I get it. There's growing pains and making sure well, I guess The responsibility and I guess the weight on your shoulders the burden of ensuring accuracy. And sometimes you just can't be as accurate as you'd like to be. But it feels like there are steps that we could have taken or could have been taken to, to ensure this in so let's let's look at 21 and make sure we don't recreate this in 21. We've got we've got a bunch of time on our hands to sit around and research it and figure it out. I mean, with everybody stuck at home with COVID Oh,

Unknown Speaker :

well, I think First things first, the body needs to invest in their own timing system. I mean, that's just that should have happened 10 years ago.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Yeah. What do we have was the Nortel guy, john. Good Now, john. Good. B. That's right. And by the end of my time, it was john good to be system. It's a good system. It just the fact that there wasn't enough trackers to use when you're using the same trackers from the UTV race on Monday then you're using it for the qualify all the qualifying and then they go on to the EMC cars and they go on to grant there was only a handful of, you know t ones this year. And then they go back on to the ultra fours at the end of the week. I mean, that's right. That ended up being why Marcos Gomez his time end up being a correction. Because the tracker that was on his car that they believed was the tracker on his car was actually not the tracker on his car. It was actually registered someone else and there was a that other car left five minutes earlier. And so that's why there was a five minute time correction for Marcos. And that was the difference you know, sitting on the finish line. We all thought you had you needed to sit there for seven or eight minutes and it just didn't it didn't work. It didn't work out. That's why I think there was a the uproar from the cheap seats people going Oh, no, no, no, no, the timing The timing is way off. We could tell it was off. Anyway. It's It's frustrating. I know how frustrating you are because at the end of the day, that's $15,000 shift in what goes into your family and being able to put food on the table. That's that's a $15,000 shift in your small shops. ratio. That sucks.

Unknown Speaker :

It hurts. And that's and that's why I told Dave when he called me like six days after the fact and said, We got to talk about this and you're not gonna like it. And I said, you really call me six days after the race because this was really the first that was the first that I'd really heard about it. I mean, we all had timers gone. But I mean, his data was his data. They checked it five times. It was perfect. He told me with utter confidence that I was second place. Like, I believe that from the race promoter, and I was unwavering in that he was as confident as he's ever been. And so a week later to come back and then redact that it really is painful. Like I said, the money's what hurts me as a small shop, the biggest I mean, second, third, whatever, no one cares. It's king of the hammers. I didn't when Marco sin when it's Josh's year, you know, and that's what everybody will remember, Josh, when he What if it was the difference between first and second? I mean, the fact that it was a podium swap is bad enough, and whether the shoe was on the opposite foot for me, I would feel no different. The timing has to be fair, it has to be accurate, and at some point Point, whether there's a mistake or not. I mean, the results have to be the official results at a certain given point in time. But whether it's right or wrong, which is you can't just go back a week later and rewrite the Superbowl it just doesn't work that way. So they need to figure that out on their end.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, then there's the concern for as we are now getting less races this season because of the COVID virus outbreak, that is going to make the points race that much tighter, not much more interesting and much more important to have them right. And if there was an issue with the points at K, which said the finish times, okay, Ah, that's the biggest race of the year. Well, it might not have felt that insane, you know, down the finish, you know, it was 44 finishers. You know, maybe the guy that finished 39th it that point play could come into play when we get to Nationals. It really could. And so you're wanting accuracy for the full field. I don't know I'm sitting back going, Man, that's just it's a ripple effect.

Unknown Speaker :

It's a huge deal. The timing Racing is. I mean, that's, that's the agricultural industry, for our country it is without timing. Like you have nothing, you don't have concrete results. So, again, they need to figure that out. And we've all been advocates for them. You know, we're all kind of in this together. I've, I've actually, in years past when they've had timing issues, tried to help with a solution have tried to even get people to come out and time a race for us at line mountain. Those guys have it together up there where Josh and I actually became friends and started racing together. They run a small series in central PA, where they run timing loops through the woods and you can look at a screen 30 minutes after the race and know your time and it's accurate. It's amazing, and they're really good at it. So it's just not that hard. We need to figure it out.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I agree, man. Well, hey, let's move moving on to the future. What do we got going forward? I guess at the forefront of your thoughts currently, it's, you know, canceled races for the season. That's going to certainly come into play when it comes into what you're where you're gonna focus your efforts. reversing last year, you ran some line mount races, you ran some road course Hill Hill Climb type races outside of the virus deal. What was your kind of mindset about where you're going to focus efforts this year?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. So it's a again, like you said, it's it's all up in the air, I think we're all trying to figure out the direction that the season is going to go. But like last year, for me, I took a step back, we won the East Coast championship in 2018, which I was really proud of took a step back from that this last season, you know, with the help from the direction my sponsors because I didn't feel, you know, obviously proud of that. It's a lot of competition, but I didn't feel that it really paid dividends for us. With those those regional races. I don't think that we got the coverage and bang for the buck out of it that we need as a business. And so I wanted to take last year, step back focus more on the business side of it, because you know, it takes that to make all this go round. So we have the ability to go race, and I'm looking at it from that standpoint this year with the uncertainty in the economy. I mean, we have to have jobs. And dollars coming into the shop to build a race. So, you know, I'm at this point where it'd be cool to kind of build some content and do some cool stuff and do things that are a little outside the norm just to kind of get some different eyes on what we're doing outside of the direct ultra for consumer base that has their eyes on it like we did that hill climb that was actually a local deal. But it was an asphalt road race hill climb and we shot a couple cellphone videos and I actually placed like way, way better in pretty much unprepped Ultra for car with spools and hydraulic steering. It was nothing but lowered and put on 30 fives, please like nine out of 90 guys and they're running like lemons. f1 looking cars up these hill climbs and we were a couple of seconds out of the lead. But those videos of my four wheel fully sold ultra for car that made 750 horsepower on asphalt backing into a corner. People loved it. And that was really cool to see just because it's so different, right? Even the guys that the track they're like what the heck is this and what do you do with it? So I want to kind of pursue more We went down to, you know, bring an ultra for card as some some hillclimb stuff because it's, it's closer to us. It's here on the east coast. Derek West has been running a lot of outlaw and pro rock stuff and we went down there to race to riches. And, you know not not a lot of people know that because I actually was one of the first races that I ever went to, and actively decided to withdraw from it. I looked at the hill, because I was kind of fed some information that wasn't entirely accurate about it being a bounty hill or not, because I said, if it's a bounty Hill, I just I don't have any business record miles for four cars three weeks before I have to be in Reno for the national championship. I was told it was a drivable race level course and got down there and it was an absolute bloody hell no one had ever driven up. And I just I laughed when I was told that I said this is such a waste of my time. I said, No one will drive up that hill. I can see the shelf on it. I said that's going to be a good show for people but I doubt if anyone makes it, and that first round, not one single car made it and I it was hard for me to kind of step back and not race to drag the car down. Bring everything and kind of watch was really hard, but I knew deep down that that was the right move. So we could have a car that we then in turn took to Reno put a prototype rear suspension plate in place on it and did some testing in Johnson valley that entire week after Reno. And that was the the suspension setup that we ran 14 in the hammers and honestly, why that's probably one of the reasons that Josh and I did so well was that, that change and if I would have wrecked my car down there, and in Kentucky, that wouldn't have never happened, it would have happened, it wouldn't happen. I don't have the resources. It's just what it is. So you got to make the tough call sometimes and and know the end directive and that's kind of what we're doing this year. We're going to see how things play out. Focus on the shop. We're doing some Jeep replacement axles partnered with spider tracks and our tech for j Ks and j s that are really cool. They're direct trickle down derivative from exactly what we're racing in our pro chassis and trying to bring something new to that market that really has it's kind of the Dana Dana, do you What gets pushed in that Jeep market and they're also heavy so try to bring some race technology to that crowd. And you know, that's one of my passions I enjoy that I enjoy just going out on the weekends and my family. I've always been just a four wheeler and to get back to doing some more Jeep specific stuff is is definitely cool.

Wyatt Pemberton :

What I really like I'm gonna preface this with I really like your thought process I see eye to eye with you on a lot of your thought process in that you're very studious and prepared. For every single step calculate, if you will, I'll even say calculated and I like watching a very calculated team. Pull off the stuff they pull off. And man, your record speaks for yourself, man, Eric. I definitely covered a lot a lot what I wanted to cover with you today. How do you feel about

Unknown Speaker :

I think we we did a good job just kind of covering everything I know we went in a bunch of different directions but it all kind of based on the the timeline of my racing career and looking back on everything we discussed a minute Pretty cool to kind of take a trip down memory lane because I don't want to see you forget that stuff. But you know, everybody's so busy in their in their everyday life that it's easy to get distracted by, you know what's really important and why you do what you do and why, who you are, who you are. And again, like this whole mess going on today, it really is gonna make people take a step back and realize what's important with their family. And, obviously, you know, work is important, because it's what it takes to feed your family. But you know, tomorrow's never promised and you really have to cherish those moments you have today. And I've learned that a lot being a being a new father and I'm proud of where I've come from and where we're at today and want to continue to grow. I I don't like being stagnant. I don't like being complacent. It's just not who I am. It's that competitive. That competitive edge. I've been instilled, I think and I'm sure it will be instilled in Nixon just because of who I am. But uh, it makes life fun.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Well, here's my canned Indian interview question. What advice would you give newcomers?

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, man, I've been asked that a lot. And I've put a lot of thought in it. And it it really, this day and age is it's so much different the cost of entry into any form of Motorsports is so high. I think that ultra for is is unique in its offering and really, more easily attainable than than most others. And they've done a good job of that, like, from when I started, right, I always tell everybody, I kind of rode the crest of the wave as a, as a young kid, getting into the sport and the right things happening at the right time and taking advantage of those things to get where I'm at today, because you know, I don't come from a large race team. I don't come from a ton of money or anything like that. So for people entering the sport today, I would tell them to, you know, start with the feeder classes start with a 4600 build or or a UTV and I say that because it shows you whether you can swing it in 4400 or not because they essentially that they're just doing The same thing that we are just on a bit of a different level. So, you know, you still get the ability to build a vehicle from scratch, you have to put a team together that works well together, you have to do all the things right to be successful in those classes that you do and ultra for and if you don't love that you're wasting your time and money with ultra for

Wyatt Pemberton :

I don't disagree with that at all. And also I mean, they're like you said the barrier and the hurdle for entry to get into de is so large. It's as simple as just reaching out to your local racer if you want to get involved. Certainly there's a lot of places on Facebook to reach out to those guys reach out if somebody local to you like if the guy from the Cumberland area were to reach out to you Eric and say, Hey, man, I've watched you I've seen your stuff. I come out and you know, meet you hang out. Is there anything I do I push a broom? I guarantee you're gonna be like, Oh yeah, bring it on. Let's see what you're about.

Unknown Speaker :

So that's, that's amazing, and really how a lot of my team has come to be through that type of, hey, I want to be a part of this. We were fortunate enough to bring engineering and Last year full time with hiring Andrew shine and Andrew he's a formerly worked for Dorman products. He's younger he's 28 now and studied engineering and I knew again that was another position at the company that we needed to fill to be able to produce what we produce. And Andrew came on board, just like Nate sours did and a lot of the other guys just through mutual acquaintance and wanting to come on help Scott Decker actually brought both of those guys into help and they came out to qH and helped build the the 4600 car come work on the 4400 car and loved the sport It was just that ultra for kind of brought us together the chemo hammer stuff and I think that's the best way to get involved with it, you know, is just to to volunteer some help and go be a part of it and prove your worth right. You don't even have to invest in a race car or anything. Just get involved.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Go make memories.

Erik Miller :

Yep, absolutely.

Wyatt Pemberton :

Please do not stop doing what you're doing. You're absolutely killing it. You Continue to be in the conversation for who's going to be on the podium. The fact you haven't finished outside the top four in the last six years is absolutely bonkers to even talk about. Well done, please keep it up, keep going. We're going to work through timing issues. We're going to work through other hurdles, things are gonna happen, you know, in January, we wouldn't ever thought we had Cova to deal with and now we do. Things are we're gonna get continue to get thrown curveballs. I know you are a very good guy hitting curveball, so please stay on it. Keep going. Thank you for coming on the show today, man.

Unknown Speaker :

Thanks, Wyatt. I appreciate it. Man. This was uh, this is awesome. Keep doing what you're doing. I think this is a small bright spot for people during this time, especially enthusiasts. So I hope you guys enjoyed this podcast and keep listening to the downtime. All right, well, we are out.

Wyatt Pemberton :

I hope you guys really liked this episode. It was a really fun one to make. As usual. I really have to thank my my three partners on this custom splice. Those guys if you do anything for offroad recovery or even on road recovery or any projects Please hit Todd and his crew up at a custom splice.com give him a call machining whoa my gosh branding machine Stan and Brandon those guys over there in Fort Wayne Indiana. They do it all if they can't make it I don't know who can if if you need it made they will do it hit those guys up. They are a big supporter of the talent tank and I value their involvement. And then last but not least, magnitude performance Jason yoed and company their neck enosis, Texas and everything that they've done for for the talent tank and getting behind and supporting this. This venture in this project and everything. Give them give them a call for your suspension needs. These guys do magic with springs and then the parent company mass motor sports engines and they have they have engines on lock handbill, lots of horsepower. There your guys. Thanks, guys. We'll catch you next week.

Intro/Outro :

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