TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Jonathan 'JJ' Wang
Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015 06:00am
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
If you’re an on-road racer with an ear for international competition, you’ve probably heard of JJ Wang. If you haven’t yet, you will after this week - he one of just three ROAR members competing at the IFMAR Worlds for 1/8-Scale Nitro On-Road, which just wrapped up controlled practice in Brazil today. The Chinese-American was introduced to RC racing at a young age by his hobbyist father, who then built an RC track and hobby shop in Shanghai so his son would have a place to race. The track time and dedication paid off last December, when he qualified for his first IFMAR Worlds final in Bangkok, where he finished fifth. He won the Warm-Up in Americana City back in August and is among the top five after controlled practice. While we wait to see if JJ can win his first World Championship this week, we put together this Talk It Up Tuesday interview so that you can learn more about him.
*EDIT - The above paragraph previously mentioned Wang as being the only ROAR member.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
JJ Wang: I am 17 years old. I was born in Taiwan, but I have spent most of my life in Shanghai.
AW: How did you get into RC racing? When did you start?
JJ: My dad and I have always shared the same passion so he was the one who introduced this sport to me 10 years ago.
AW: When did you decide to start taking racing more seriously, traveling to larger races and acquiring sponsors?
JJ: I started off as a kid who was just trying to get around the track but I soon realized that I loved it so much that it has become a big part of my life now. My dad and my first coach came up with the idea to travel to other places because that was the only way to gain experience and compete with other racers away from home. I soon became more comfortable with racing and decided to take a step further and travel to the US as well as many other countries.
AW: Has on-road racing always been your favorite? Can you rank the different classes you race in order of how much you like them?
JJ: I started my racing career with nitro 1/10-scale cars, but throughout the past 10 years I would consider myself a cross-platform driver. I pretty much race all the categories. My favorite category is 1/8 nitro as it is the F1 of rc racing. I have been getting into more 1/12-scale racing so that is my second favorite. 1/10-scale EP is next followed by 1/10-scale Off-road, 1/10-scale nitro and 1/8-scale Off-road.
AW: How do you balance your responsibilities, like attending school and completing homework, with racing and practicing?
JJ: It has been hard missing so many days of school for racing. But I love what I do and my school supports me in what I do so it has been fun. However, the past few years has been hard due to the fact that I am applying to college now and the process prevents me from attending many races and I have limited time for practice.
AW: What are your plans after high school?
JJ: I am applying to college right now and hopefully I end up somewhere where racing is still an option. I am looking forward to racing in the US and we’ll see how things go from there.
AW: Do you anticipate being able to continue racing at a high level through college?
JJ: That is the plan for me. As I mentioned before my dad also has the passion to race so as long as I have time, we will keep doing what we do and continue racing.
AW: What has it been like traveling the world with your father and racing against so many different people?
JJ: It has been unreal, I cannot ask for a better childhood. I have travelled all over the world and have made so many new friends. I am happy to be able to experience racing abroad and racing at such a high level has definitely helped me bring my racing to the next level.
AW: What are your most proud racing moments?
JJ: I have so many good memories from racing but by far my proudest moment in racing is when I made the A main at last years’ 1/10 GP Worlds in Bangkok. It was unbelievable and it felt like a huge accomplishment to be able to compete with the world’s best drivers.
AW: Do you have any particular goals for your RC career?
JJ: To become a World Champion one day.
AW: Do your life aspirations include RC?
JJ: RC has become a big part of my life and it feels good to be different than all my friends. I love what I do and it’s been fun so that’s the most important thing.
AW: Can you choose a favorite place that you’ve visited?
JJ: I cannot choose a favorite place because I enjoy every race I go to. The past few years I’ve been doing more racing in Europe and it has been a fantastic experience. Also I would never have thought of going to Brazil for racing so that has been a fun trip too.
AW: How do you explain to non-RC friends what you do?
JJ: I explain to them that this is not just some toy car you buy from a toy shop, this is a professional sport that requires not just hand-eye coordination but also skills. My friends understand what I do and they are fascinated by what I do.
AW: What’s the best part of racing RC cars? What’s the worst part?
JJ: The best part of racing is meeting new people all over the world. The worst part of racing is when you are not having fun.
AW: When you’re not at the racetrack, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
JJ: Outside of the racetrack, I love to play sports such as baseball and basketball. I have been playing on my school varsity team for a few years now. I also really like to eat so please when you see me at the track, bring me super Gyu Gyu.
AW: What is your favorite track? Favorite big race?
JJ: My favorite track is RCI V2 - my home track and also what I call my home. My favorite race is the Reedy Race of Champions.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most?
JJ: There are so many people that have impacted my racing career but I would like to thank all my teammates for the help and support throughout the years and the supporters all over the world who believe in me.
AW: What’s the best piece of advice you could give an aspiring racer?
JJ: My best piece of advice to an aspiring racer is to follow your dreams and to never give up. I believe is the most important thing is that you need to enjoy what you do and having fun is the key.
AW: What is your goal for the World Championship in Brazil? Did making the final at the 200mm World's in Thailand last year and winning the warm-up raise your expectations?
JJ: I go into every race with the same mentality. For sure I have more confidence now, but I will do what I do best and that is to work with my mechanic to find the best setup. It might be the World Championships but I look at it as a normal race - so I try and enjoy the atmosphere and have fun at the same time.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JJ: Thank you LiveRC for giving me the chance to talk about my life and see you all at the track soon!