Gene Husting Inducted into the R/C Hall of Fame
July 1, 2006
[This is the speech given by Gene Husting's daughter Julie at the ceremony.]
To fully understand why my dad is earning this award, you really have to go all the way back to the beginning. What you may not know is that his racing career and love of cars started long before he ever even heard of R/C cars. In fact, he bought his very first car even before he had a driver’s license! He even sanded it all down and gave it the perfect paint job even before he was able to drive it!
That car turned out to be not "cool" enough and so he sold it and bought another car. He has been working on cars and rebuilding engines even as a teenager. He even put a second carburetor on that car and had to take the hood off so that everyone could see it. He was into street racing during this time.
Unfortunately, people took one look at the dual carburetor and wouldn’t race with him any more!
Gene soon had to put cars and racing on hold because he had to go into the Army during World War II.
When he got out of the war he couldn’t wait to get back into racing. This time at the dry lakes and drag strip racing. He built the engines while his partner, Reece Adams, built the cars.
Their ’34 Ford flat head-powered Coupe set records at all six drag strips in Southern California, and then with a new Chrysler-powered Hemi engine he won the high points of the year award over 400 competitors at the dry lakes. They never lost a race on the drag strips in Southern California!
After that, Gene designed the first-ever long dragster and on its very first run at Lions Drag Strip it broke the track record! Mickey Thompson, the track manager, was there to see it happen. They never lost a race with this car. 2 ½ years later Don Garlits built an almost identical car in length.
About this time our family was getting larger. My dad now had four children and could no longer afford to race real cars. So, he got into slot car racing.
In a short period of time he built the longest dragster running. It was the first ever sidewinder type car in the 60 slot car tracks in Southern California. This car also broke a record—it was the first car to go below one second—at .93 seconds. That record was not broken for 21 years!
Of course, he needed a new design challenge so he started slot car road racing.
He built the first-ever 1:24 scale sidewinder road-race car. He beat the best racers for 13 weeks in a row with this car.
Soon Gene discovered R/C car racing and he quit racing slot cars. At the time he was working at the Shell Gas Station that he owned in Gardena, CA. He had bought a Delta R/C car and was winning races with it.
Roger Curtis, who owned Associated at the time, was one of Gene’s customers at his gas station and raced with him, too. It was at this time that Roger asked Gene if he would like to be his partner at Associated.
After learning the basics at Associated, Gene designed a new 1:8 scale gas car—the RC100. The RC100 was an immediate success. Racers around the world were telling them how great the car was. Gene’s racing was still going strong, too.
The first ever World Championships were held in Pomona, CA at the famous Thorp Raceway with the collaboration of Gene, Ted Longshaw from England and John Thorp. Racers from all around the world came. This was the beginning of what was to become IFMAR.
Gene came in 3rd place behind Butch Kroells and Bill Jianas. He was 50 years old. Way to go, Dad! The RC100 took the top five places.
Not only was Gene instrumental in getting IFMAR started but he was also very active in ROAR over the years. In fact, he was even the Vice President for a time during the 90’s. My mom, Midge, even wrote the REVUP issues in the early days of ROAR.
Gene told Roger that they needed a 1:12 scale electric car. The RC12E was born—designed by Roger. This car was also a favorite worldwide. At the same time, Gene was working on the RC200.
After that Gene designed the RC500 suspension car and asked Roger to join him at the SCORE Off Road Show to learn how to build a 1:10 off road car from real off roaders.
Roger then designed the still-famous, original RC10 Off Road Buggy. The car had orders for more than 8 years. It was so popular, in fact, that they had to move to a larger building in Costa Mesa in an effort to catch up with the orders.
A year later at a 1:8 gas race in Germany, Mike Reedy suggested to Gene that Associated start up a new electric motor and battery department. Gene thought it was a great idea and Reedy was hired and became a big part of Team Associated.
Awhile later Reedy recommended to Gene that Cliff Lett should be hired to head the R&D department. Gene and Roger agreed and Cliff was hired--another very important addition to Team Associated.
A few years later Gene came up with the idea of making an electric truck. It was not a popular idea and he was opposed by everyone because trucks aren’t known to be race cars, but Gene insisted. Pretty soon the trucks were outselling the buggies!
A couple of years later, Gene came up with the idea to build a gas truck, and the RC10GT was born. This was another great success. Unfortunately, it was a little too successful as the engine distributors were not able to keep up with the orders for the truck.
Gene talked to Chris Chianellie, his friend at Radio Control Car Action, about his problem. Chris introduced him to Mr. Aling Lai from Thunder Tiger in Taiwan. The engines that Mr. Lai sent passed Associated’s tests to perfection. So, Gene went to Taiwan to talk to Mr. Lai some more.
Not only did Mr. Lai agree to produce a totally different type of engine that my dad designed, but he also offered to build RTR versions of the gas truck using the new engine. Mr. Lai even started changing ALL of his engines to Gene’s design, which took him two years to do.
Gene then went to China to supervise the initial assembly of the RC10GT RTR. China was a whole new revelation for Gene. He was very impressed by how friendly and easy to work with everyone was. Of course the GT RTR was even more successful than the kits.
In addition to building world-class R/C cars and driving them himself, Gene was also the team manager throughout all of his years at Associated. I have three older brothers. That’s bad enough growing up the only girl but at times it felt like I had many more brothers! That is because Gene often treated the racers like they were his sons.
He loved racing and loved working with the drivers. Winning was important, of course, but he would be the first to try to lift the spirits of a driver having a bad day. Winning wasn’t always everything. He was always encouraging them and trying to help them make their cars better. His help wasn’t just limited to the racers on the Team. He was happy to help or talk to anyone that asked.
He went to as many races as he could and especially enjoyed going to the World Championships. He didn’t race in his later years but he shared in the excitement as they won 16 world championships.
Gene also was a regular columnist for R/C magazines. He wrote for RC Modeller which was a plane magazine and his article was the only one on R/C cars. He also wrote for RC Model Cars which was the first magazine for R/C cars.
At the age of 72, Gene decided to retire. He is 79 years old now [in 2006] and if you think he has taken up golf or given up on R/C cars and racing you would be sadly mistaken! Not only was he the team manager for all of those years but he was a videographer, too. He has filmed many World Championships, Nationals, Reedy Races and many more races over the years.
During his retirement years my dad has been putting his collection of these videos, photos and articles onto DVDs. He wants to share the history of R/C cars with everyone and has decided to make his 31 volume DVD collection available to the public.
I am very proud of my dad, not only for his contribution to the R/C car industry but for the man that he is. Congratulations on your induction into the R/C Hall of Fame!