Interview with Todd Hamilton, Chainsmoke Racing

One more interview while it’s still cold outside to round out the who’s who in the Ohio downhill scene. It’s been a long winter, and if you’re like me you’ve spent some time on the Chainsmoke forum making plans for the upcoming year with fellow speed freaks from the area. But now that the sun is out and it’s time to log off the internet and login to some dirty fast trails, and when you do you’ll undoubtedly run into someone from the Chainsmoke team. Here’s an interview with their team manager, Todd Hamilton:

Tell us about Todd, how long you’ve been riding, what inspires you.

Well I actually got back into biking 4 years ago by winning a Gary Fisher Cake
3. Rode cross country for the first year through out Ohio. Then I heard about
Horn’s Hill through the SpokeJunkies. Bob Bevard was putting a call out to help
build DH trails in Newark, I had to go check it out. After helping out and building
trails I was soon hooked. Bought my first DH bike soon after that and it has been
all downhill from there. The camaraderie and competitiveness in the sport is what
keeps me coming back for more. Seeing the youth numbers grow every year is
outstanding too, it’s all about growing the sport I love.

You’re the current head honcho of the Chainsmoke Racing team, which has long
been Ohio’s foremost gravity squad. I remember back when I was at OSU, going
over to Mark Van Meter’s house for a party and him showing off his brand new
thermoplastic GT Lobo, and it seems like Chainsmoke has been around ever
since. Can you give us a nutshell summary of the history of the team and where
you came in?

Mark VanMeter decided to start a forum and a race team in 2008, it was an open
call so I signed up. I had no idea what I was getting into as I had never raced
before but Mark super supportive. Mark and I became good friends as a result
and I became his right hand man with the team helping out with the website and
what nots. In 2009, Mark decided to take his life in a different direction and got
out of riding. I didn’t want the team to go away so with a ton of help from Justin
Martincic and others on the team we moved on. It’s been getting bigger and
better every year.

What is it about Chainsmoke Racing that has given it staying power? Do you
guys have a particular ethos?

It started out as a bunch of friends that would hang out and ride together
anyway, so why not start a team and get a few deals to help riders get the gear
that they need that otherwise couldn’t. It’s grown from that to a legit race team.
Granted it’s not all about results for us but about having a good time every
weekend we go to a race. We’re all still a bunch of friends that would hang out,
have a few beers, and ride our bikes without it being race day.

So who is on the team for 2011, and what races are you guys hitting up?

Coming in from last season: Steve Pervis, Doug Tate, Richard Garyantes, Brian
Benini, Wes Plyer, Ken Martin, Brad Smith, Mike Dart, Justin Martincic, and
myself. New to the team this year are: Roxy Racioppo, Ninja Bob Safrit, Trevyn
Newpher

U21 Team:
Phillip Steele, Eric Hickman, Ross Ciminelli

We plan to do most of the Gravity East Series and Snowshoe Race Series
A few of the racers are trying to get to the US Open and/or the Nationals. And as
many races as we can get to in between

Any shout outs to your sponsors?

A big thanks to Specialized Bikes, Elka Suspension, Marrow Racing
Components, Twenty6, Snitgers Bike Store, SixSixOne, ONEIndustries,
American Classic Wheels, Smith Optics, Azonic/O’Neal, Schwalbe Tires, Cyclist
Connection, and Legends Brewing Company. A few have been on board from
the start and a few are new to us this season, needless to say we are stoked to
have all these great sponsors supporting us in the 2011 season.

I always like to ask what ideas people have for the Ohio gravity scene, what it
needs and how to grow it, so take your best shot!

With downhill growing so quickly everyday, we really need bike shops that
support the gravity side of riding. Without that you don’t have the everyday rider
seeing the big bikes when they walk into a shop to strike interest. We have a
great network of trails built and maintained by some of Ohios finest, if we could
keep that ball rolling it will defiantly put Ohio on the DH map.

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