Steve Pinto, 31, of New Hyde Park displays a monster...

Steve Pinto, 31, of New Hyde Park displays a monster truck be built in his RC Motorsports home workshop. Photo credit: Newsday/Amanda Blanco

Most entrepreneurs can’t count the New York Giants among their first customers. Steve Pinto billed the team more than $14,000 on his first sale.

Pinto, 31, is the founder of RC Motorsports, a remote-control car company based in the workshop of his New Hyde Park home. There, he builds raceable vehicles varying from monster trucks to Porsches that can go up to 120 mph.

Growing up on Long Island, he raced scooters, bikes and cars with his friends.

“That’s where this really all started, tinkering with those motors,” he says.

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A trained mechanic, Pinto left his dream job at Ferrari-Maserati of Long Island to start RC Motorsports. He quit the Plainview dealership in 2017, launching his business shortly after. 

“Leaving your job is scary,” he says. “You take your life savings and try something that no one has ever done before.”

Pinto’s risk-taking has paid off. He says he has yet to see any serious business competition. “People come here expecting it to be like a RadioShack,” he says, dusting off his own childhood remote control car from the chain store that he pulled from a closet. Compared to the Ferrari and Porsche replicas posed around his workshop, Pinto’s old car looks more like a "Toy Story" character.

Establishing an Instagram following early on helped set RC Motorsports apart in the car hobbyist community and gain popularity with celebrities. “Social media is free advertising,” he says. “You have the masses at your fingertips.” Pinto's Instagram caught the eye of the Giants, who asked him to create cars for the team. He built a 1965 Ford Mustang for Odell Beckham, a Hummer H1 for Brandon Marshall and a 1968 Chevy Camaro for Sterling Shepard. With almost 40,000 followers, Pinto has sponsorship deals with parts manufacturing companies Powerhobby and T-Bone Racing.

Pinto sells 15-20 cars a month on average, starting at $200 each. His customers include professional athletes and celebrities like Drake, who had Pinto replicate his $3.5 million yellow LaFerrari. Most of Pinto’s clients are typical families. “Dads come here all the time,” he says. “They say they’re looking to buy a car for their kids, but it’s really for them!”

Many of his customers return for repairs and upgrades. “The first thing guys want to do is show it off in front of their friends and families,” he says. One father asked Pinto to upgrade his car’s motor for his son. Later, the man returned to Pinto to have the car fixed, admitting he smashed it into a mailbox himself. “Everyone thinks they’re Michael Schumacher,” Pinto says.

Pinto credits his success in part to the support of his family, especially his parents, Clara and Carlos Pinto. “I got my creativity from my mom,” he says, who, as a teacher, decorated her schools every holiday season. He turns to his father, a retired CPA for financial advice. “I call my dad our CFO,” he says. Pinto’s parents spend summers with him in their Long Island home, returning to Colombia in the winter months.

By working primarily out of his house, he saves money on rent. Although Long Island is expensive, Pinto’s business allows him to pay the bills and live comfortably. And while data from Newsday’s nextLI shows that many millennials plan to leave Long Island in the next five years, Pinto is here to stay. He wants to build his business in his hometown community. 

“It’s where I grew up,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to take it anywhere else.”

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