TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Felix Harsh
Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 03:48pm
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!
I began corresponding with Felix Harsh when he took over the team manager duties for Bellgate Distributors, a hobby wholesaler that has been around for over 20 years and made waves last spring with the announcement that they would be introducing some well-known Spanish brands to the U.S. market. When Felix told me about how his hobby has helped him cope with anxiety, and that some of his team drivers set up a GoFundMe account to raise cash to help Felix attend the Psycho Nitro Blast a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to learn more about what he had to say - and share that with LiveRC's audience.
Aaron Waldron: How old are you, and where are you from?
Felix Harsh: I am 44 years young - I tell people I stopped at 28. I grew up in Galveston, TX and I currently live in Wisconsin!
AW: How did you get started in radio control, and how long have you been in the hobby?
FH: My oldest brother, JD Massengale. got me my first RC at a flea market in Houston. I have been active in the RC Racing hobby for close to 20 years now.
AW: How did you get hooked up with Bellgate Distributors? What are your day-to-day responsibilities for the company?
FH: I got the contact number for Bellgate from an online retailer associate of mine - one phone call and we were set! Day to day I am the Team Manager, overseeing multiple brands. I also do outsourcing in the search for new products and testing those products, and help Bellgate with customer service, sales and troubleshooting.
AW: Bellgate Distributors handles marquee brands like JConcepts, Novarossi and Tekno RC, but has also introduced other international brands into the U.S. market. What are some of the most exciting products that North American racers may not be familiar with?
FH: The brands from Modelix Racing out of Spain are all great. Those include Ultimate engines made by Novarossi, Prociruit 1/8th buggy tires, and Nitrolux fuels. The quality and engineering are above par from what I have seen from other overseas brands. These are brands that will be growing in the states.
AW: How has working in the RC industry changed the way you view the hobby as a whole?
FH: I wouldn't say its changed the way I view the hobby. Working in the industry has allowed me to expand my own views and to help others more than I have in the past. I started a mentorship program for new drivers and that has been a great success; it allows me and my team to help those that do not get much help at the track. We get to work with these guys and gals, teaching them about setup and driving.
AW: I understand that RC racing has helped you cope with some very difficult times of your life. Would you mind sharing more info about that?
FH: Yes, this hobby has helped me in so many ways. I have multiple anxiety issues, and PTSD on top of that. Being able to build and tune the cars has been great for settling my anxiety. It allows me to feel normal when I know I am not. So many people fight these conditions in their daily lives and, like I did until recently, they hide it. Telling people you have major anxiety is difficult to say the least. My team drivers are amazing and more understanding than I could have ever expected. I love them all!
AW: What’s the best part of RC racing? What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
FH: For me, the best part is having close racing where you’re just pushing as hard as you can. The adrenaline and the shaky hands when you come off the stand are addictive. What annoys me the most is the selective stock classes - there are no universal rules that are followed on the club level. I personally feel that motors should be a 17.5 with a fixed endbell, and speed controls should be wide open. Blinky is good for spec racing, but for general stock let the drivers tune accordingly - that includes the ESC.
AW: What advice would you give someone looking to make a career in the RC industry?
FH: Getting into the industry sounds like a dream job, and for some of us it is. If, you are looking to get into the industry, start working towards your goal. Just don't get discouraged if you don't get a spot right away, as there are hundreds of drivers that want these very few jobs. Keep learning, have fun, and sometimes life will find you.
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most in your RC career?
FH: When I first got into competitive racing I went to a track in Pleasant Hill, MO called Real RC Raceway. Steve Hale and his wife ran the facility, and were always open to help people. I'm not sure Steve realized that, just by helping me at the track and giving me a place to race, he gave me a drive to be in this industry. More recently, Richard O’Hara from Bellgate has been a great boss and has helped me grow my knowledge of the industry and has allowed me to help get our product lines growing. And as I mentioned early, my oldest brother JD - who passed recently - got me started in the RC cars and I thank him now and forever for giving me the outlet I needed.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
FH: Thank you and all the crew at LiveRC you all do an amazing job. Lastly, I want to encourage the female drivers to keep with it and show us guys what you all are capable of. I have a little girl here at home that is starting out racing, and she could use more female role models to look up to.