L.J.: Rich, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to catch up with us. We’re all big fans of Pinks around here, but I want to hear more about your new project, Armdrop Live!
Rich: You know, Pinks All Out rocks, but it’s only 16 drivers and we’ve got to cart a camera crew around. With Armdrop Live, I can get to more tracks, we can have a more fluid experience, and we can bring in more drivers. With Armdrop Live we start with 256, to 128 and on ’til there’s one driver left standing. There are three kinds of tracks in this country: open, closed, or demolished. That’s no good, we need more tracks, more places for people to race, not on the streets but on sanctioned tracks. We’re bringing bracket racing to the next level.
L.J.: Speaking of Pinks, tell me what the process was like getting the show developed. In other words, what’s it like getting kicked around in Hollywood?
Rich: It’s so exciting. I was managing a gym in L.A. and peddling a bunch of ideas and getting nowhere. Not because they weren’t good ideas or because I wasn’t working hard enough, I was simply being outsold. I didn’t know then how to close the deal. We sold our first four episodes to SpeedTV, who took a chance on an idea that quickly became one of their hottest brands, for a fraction of what they’re selling for now.
L.J.: So now that you’ve sold the shows, what are you rollin’ around in?
Rich: I’ve got a 2006 Chrysler 300C all-wheel-drive with the Hemi. I’ve had it stretched so I can lay down in the back I hate to fly on long trips. It’s got satellite TV so I can catch up on news, TV shows and all of that while traveling from track to track. It’s like an RV, my 300C-RV.
L.J.: We’ve noticed most of your crew are previous contestants on the show. How does that work, and when will see one of our favorites, Trevor, on your team?
Rich: Trev is definitely one of the most memorable guys on the show, and he’s one of those guys that makes the show what it is today. Yeah, all these guys: Nate, Charles, Ken, all past contestants, all brilliant guys and are now working with me in one form or another. You know, if I took this show to Hollywood to cast it, I’d have a list a mile long of actors, but this show isn’t about acting. These guys gotta live and breathe it, and that’s why we use past contestants.
L.J.: Tell me more about “RCE” or “Rich Christensen Enterprises.” What is it and what other ideas are you working on?
Rich: You gotta understand, I’m a “cash the check” kinda guy, the creative guy, and I’m definitely not a traditional business man. Once you start getting me into spreadsheets and attorneys, I can’t work, so I have people to handle that, and they do it through my production company, RCE. We’re always working on something new and our current project list includes Pinks and Pinks All Out, Drag Race High, Pass Time and our new project, Armdrop Live. We’re putting together these Signature Series and we’re looking for partners, not just any partner, but the best-in-class kinda partner. We’ve teamed up with NAPA Auto Parts and other great companies like SureFire, Gatorz, Spec Clutch and Precision of New Hampton.
L.J.: Rich, as you know, one of my goals here at Performance Business is to give our readers one good idea, something they can run with today to help differentiate themselves and increase their sales. So, say you own a store there in New Hampton, Iowa. What would you be doing to get a leg up?
Rich: Man, it’s real simple. I’m always telling my guys how brilliant they are, how smart they are, and it’s true. These guys are brilliant. Same thing goes for your customers. You’ve got to respect the genius in these guys and you’ve got to respect every one of your customers. Never talk down. Always talk up. Always talk up.
L.J.: Lastly, one of my colleagues and a racer, Denny the “Griz,” wanted to be sure to thank you for hanging out well past midnight to sign autographs for all the fans at last year’s event here in Michigan. After a long hot day in the sun, your devotion to your fan base is evident.
Rich: Man, no, thank you. It’s all about the fans. These fans are great. You drive through any town in North America, and you’ll find these fans, working on their cars, especially today with a tough economy, and they still come out to cheer us on. I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, and my goal is to work as hard as I can to give people a break, some entertainment, for an hour, half an hour, whatever. I’ve gotta give them a smile. That’s my job. And I love it.
L.J.: Rock on. See you at SEMA?
Rich: You bet. We’ll catch up then.
RICH CHRISTENSEN, TV Personality, Pinks
You workout 7 days a week, so what kind of heart-pumping tunes are on your iPOD:
Man, it’s the complete opposite of what you’d think. I need mellow music.
Last book read:
The Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
Favorite place to drive:
Anywhere here in my hometown of New Hampton, Iowa. I love those country roads.