Shooting and driving with the Alphaform REDS JQ Racing team at Revelation Raceway
Monday, Feb 16, 2015 04:41pm
By Aaron Waldron
At the 1/8-Scale Off-Road World Championships in Italy last September, Joseph Quagraine threw a launch party at the villa he rented for his team and invited all of the media. Drawing inspiration from the factory teams in Supercross, which require their riders all use the same equipment, wear matching gear, and work as a team, Quagraine launched a new-to-RC concept for his roster of drivers around the world: Alphaform REDS JQ Racing. His goal is to build up the team into a package that could be marketed to sponsors, even outside of RC, and is now working on laying the foundation to do just that. Escaping the cold Finnish winter and squeezing a few Supercross races in between going to the track virtually every day, Quagraine has been in the U.S. since New Years Day and will be staying through the first of April.
Perhaps the biggest splash for 2015 was signing former National Champion Jeremy Kortz, a veteran whose career spans over three decades and has remained one of the most recognizable racers of the 21st century. Quagraine pointed out that having Kortz on the team is a new opportunity for him to help refine THE Car as well as any upcoming projects, as it’s the first time he’s had someone on the team that’s faster than he is!
On Friday, he again invited the media out for pizza and refreshments, this time renting out Revelation Raceway for a photo shoot, presentations by the team’s sponsors, and the chance to take his personal race car for a spin. Not only that, but a couple of the associate sponsors of Alphaform REDS JQ Racing that attended each brought with them new products to show off to the public.
The most exciting of which was most certainly from AKA Products, as Mark Pavidis and his son Ryan drove the team’s race van to Revelation and brought with them two never-before-seen 1/8-scale buggy tires that will debut at The Dirt Nitro Challenge. Mark met Joseph during his first trip to the U.S. in 2003 and they’ve shared a good relationship ever since, which is why the tire brand was excited to be the official tire provider of Alphaform REDS JQ Racing.
The Chain Link is named after the 1/10-scale 2WD/4WD tire that bears a similar interlocking bar pattern, though the tread on the big buggy version has been beefed up to suit blue-groove tracks with high wear.
The small, closely packed lugs of the Rasp are built specifically to provide the most possible grip for short qualifying races. Ryan Pavidis ran this used test set on Revelation’s dry and dusty track and his car looked hooked up!
When Joseph started racing, his first speed control that he purchased was an LRP - and he’s been running their equipment ever since. The German brand was impressed with Quagraine’s vision for the team and agreed to provide “Blue is Better” power for all drivers.
LRP America’s Shawn Ireland and JD Mora drove up from Orange County on Friday and brought with them items from the ever-widening range of LiPo batteries, which not only have a new cell construction and chemistry but come in new configurations that no other brand has yet offered.
New LCG stick, saddle, and shorty packs are significantly shorter than previous versions of these batteries, changing the car’s center of gravity for improved handling.
Fitting in the same case as half of a saddle pack, this new new 2600mAh “Super Shorty” is not only significantly lighter than the typical 2S short pack, but offers even more weight distribution adjustment options.
The new 4800mAh square pack is perfect for 2WD buggies and those who use saddle packs mounted next to each other.
LRP America will continue to increase the number of the German mothership’s 2600 different items it brings into the U.S., including new RTR vehicles, airplanes, and quadcopters. Among them will be an updated 1/8-scale ESC due in April, with increased durability and higher quality FETs. The new unit will feature the new v2.6 software with a revised current limiter, which will be offered for current iX8 owners to download for free in March.
Kortz is the only driver on JQ’s team who won’t be using REDS engines in 2015 and beyond, maintaining his long-time relationship with Werks Racing. In fact, the engine that Kortz was breaking in on Friday for The Dirt Nitro Challenge was a new prototype powerhouse that, according to the 2004 Worlds podium finisher, may be called a “Kortz Edition” - hence the blacked-out head with no badging. In addition to a new carburetor built for a smoother idle and easier tuning, Kortz said the engine was designed to provide improved fuel mileage and a more controllable power delivery than the company’s previous offerings.
In addition to giving Mark, Shawn, and Jeremy the opportunity to show off new products, JQ spoke about the additional companies who’ve signed on for 2015:
Alphaform Prototyping is a company specializing in 3D printing, and the reason Joseph kicked around the idea of making cars in the first place. He met a racer in Finland who had enlisted the help of the German company to produce some hand-designed parts, and after introducing himself Alphaform used Quagraine’s creations as a test mule to develop materials. The first prototype that JQ and Alphaform built in 2009 would barely stay together, but within two years they had a running prototype - that would still break in a crash. At the 2013 European Championships, Joseph ran 3D printed rear arms from Alphaform, that had been spray painted black so no one would know what he was up to, and they held up to the stressed of high-level racing.
JQ contacted REDS Racing before he even started up the team, and they jumped at the chance to get involved. Joseph said that REDS is very dedicated to racing and takes it seriously, so the opportunity to work together was a perfect match.
Joseph met the staff from Savöx at the Nuremburg Toy Fair a couple of years ago, and has been running their servos ever since. His whole team uses the SC-1268SG in Nitro and the SC-1258TG in Electric.
After meeting Maurizio Fantinel while racing in Italy, JQ convinced him to wrap the team in Maugrafix decals and help provide artwork for other promotional items, such as the beautiful tents and shirts that JQ and Kortz were using and wearing on Friday.
Accessories for the team will be provided by GHEA, and though no deal is yet in place, JQ felt comfortable enough with ongoing negotiations to use MIP tools and Lunsford titanium hardware that he had their logos added to the team’s apparel as well.
After the press conference, Quagraine and Kortz put on quite a show for our cameras while racing each other around the track on a beautiful February afternoon in SoCal. With everyone’s photo and video requests met, JQ fired up the “White Edition” buggy he’ll be racing in Arizona and gave each of us a chance behind the wheel. Even though the very rough and difficult course at Revelation Raceway was made more treacherous by loose and dry conditions, Quagraine had no problem logging very fast and consistent laps - and even though I crashed my brains out, the car’s potential was apparent even when commanded by my rusty fingertips. The car accelerated hard through bumps leading up to large jumps, and leapt through the tricky 8-pack as long as I nailed the proper throttle input.
Since he first announced his intention to bring a 1/8-scale nitro car to market, Joseph Quagraine's JQ Racing line has drawn criticism from everyone - fellow racers, industry media, other brands, you name it. And whether you're a fan of his or not, you can't help but respect what he has accomplished - even some of his most vocal opposition have changed their tune, preferring to jump on the train instead of get run over by it. It will be very interesting to see how Joseph and Jeremy, who were both in the B-Main at last year’s Dirt Nitro Challenge, and the rest of the Alphaform REDS JQ Racing team will fare this week!