TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Loran Whiting
Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 02:33pm
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 met Loran Whiting and her dad, Jeff, at the 200mm IC World Championships last year in Bangkok, but I had already begun following her racing career as one of the top nitro on-road racers in the U.S. The daughter/father team traveled to the entire Euro Nitro Series last year, and Loran’s younger siblings often join in the fun as well. Racing is far from a full-time gig for the University of Louisville grad, whose degree in Computer Information Systems landed her an analyst position with a Kentucky-based health insurance company. Loran finished on the podium at the WinterNats warm-up this year and scored a top five at the big race the following week, but it was the long-time XRAY driver’s switch to Capricorn that really thrust the 22-year-old back into the spotlight. I sent Loran a Facebook message to catch up (and tease her about racing off-road) for this Talk-It-Up-Tuesday interview.
Aaron Waldron: How did you get into RC racing? When did you start?
Loran Whiting: I have to give my dad the credit. He started racing RC in the 80s and never stopped. When my younger siblings and I were little, we started with motocross, but Dad quickly got very daddy-esque and guided us towards a safer alternative in the motorsports world. He took us to a bunch of different on-road RC tracks, both on asphalt and carpet, and we all just fell in love with it more as a family.
AW: Has nitro on-road racing always been your favorite? Can you rank the different classes you race in order of how much you like them?
LW: Definitely! I think nitro on-road just has a certain intoxicating atmosphere: the smell, the sound, the intensity of long races, the adrenaline of the fast speeds – all of it keeps me coming back. As far as ranking the classes, I’d have to go with the list below. Some offroad classes made their way on to the list, but they rank pretty low for now, haha.
- 1/10 nitro sedan
- 1/8 nitro onroad
- 1/10 mod electric touring
- 1/8 nitro 2WD pan car
- 1/10 2wd Mod Buggy
AW: When did you decide to start taking racing more seriously, traveling to larger races and acquiring sponsors?
LW: After a few years of parking lot tracks and smaller club races, I finally bugged my dad enough to let me travel with him to some bigger races. I think my first big, big race was the Florida WinterNats when I was about 14 or so. I was super pumped because I got to meet people I had only ever seen on Ray Wood RC videos! I think after that experience my dad realized that I was pretty into the whole scene and we made an effort to go to bigger races more often. The sponsorships for me and the family came as we all improved and promoted the products we were using and representing through our respectful character at the track.
AW: What are your most proud racing moments?
LW: Honestly, my proudest RC racing moments involve my family. I can’t tell you how many times I have shed tears watching my brother or sister race super well and come off the drivers’ stand smiling like geeks. It’s really all about family to me – if they are having the time of their lives, then so am I. I’m proud of some of my A-Main finishes, but they don’t compare to the family stuff.
AW: Do you have any particular goals for your RC career?
LW: I think one of my main goals right now is to keep improving my driving. I’ve been told I’m too nice and not as aggressive as I should be on the track, so I guess I need to find my inner feistiness. Other than that, I just want to continue being a good ambassador and help grow the hobby in the best way that I can.
AW: How have you maintained a balance between real world responsibilities and traveling so much for racing?
LW: It’s funny that you ask this – because almost everyone asks me at the track “Don’t you have a full time job? And they are cool with you being gone so much?” The awesome answer to both questions is YES. My technology-based job is super flexible and allows me to work remotely all the time, so I’ll either work after, or even during, the race day. My bosses are really into my racing too and have even mentioned that they would build me a track in my home city – which I think is just a ploy to keep me from traveling all the time. But in all seriousness, they support me 100% and are always willing to help me balance my work load and RC aspirations.
AW: What has it been like traveling the world with your father and racing against so many different people?
LW: It has been – hands down – one of the coolest experiences ever. I have wanted to travel ever since I was younger and when you add in racing and getting to share it with my dad, it was just amazing. We met and raced with so many people and experienced so many different types of tracks that it almost feels like it was all a dream. We learned so much and I think it definitely helped our driving and set-up skills. Can’t wait to travel overseas again.
AW: Can you choose a favorite place that you’ve visited?
LW: Bangkok for the 2014 1/10 Nitro Worlds. I think the vast differences between that area and the U.S. just totally blew my mind. Eating at awesome restaurants like Gyu Gyu Tei and Bacco, participating in their Festival of Lights, racing at the HUGE RC track, seeing so many displays of Thai culture – all of these are things I couldn’t possibly forget.
AW: How does it feel to be able to share such a hobby with your whole family?
LW: Sharing this hobby with the crazy Whitings makes RC racing worthwhile for me. I know for a fact that I would not have as much fun without them. We all get a little sassy with each other at some point during a race week – but the majority of the time we are laughing, throwing chunked tires at each other, cracking jokes, and supporting each other 100%. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
AW: How do you explain to non-RC friends what you do?
LW: Explaining RC to someone who has no idea about it is something I think every person in this hobby has dealt with. “So…you’re telling me…that you ‘race’ remote control cars?” I usually just try to pull up some videos and preface it with a “This isn’t your average toy car…”
AW: What’s the best part of racing RC cars?
LW: The best parts of racing RC cars are probably 1.) sharing the experiences with my family (which I’m sure isn’t a surprising answer at this point haha) and 2.) sharing the experiences with kids at the track. I remember being a kid at the track – making it fun is so important. It can get so serious with people yelling and thrashing - just adding that extra bit of fun or showing a kid that you care about how they are doing can set a bright future for the RC world. Bringing in kids and keeping them in this hobby is so important - they bring something special to that track that really makes the atmosphere better in my opinion.
AW: What’s the worst part?
LW: The worst part of racing RC cars for me is witnessing someone lose their cool in an extreme way. I definitely understand that with passion comes emotion that is sometimes expressed in weird ways – but when that expression is dangerous to people at the track, like when someone throttle punches it across a track with no qualms, I tend to get a little frustrated.
AW: Is it difficult being a female racer in a male-dominated industry?
LW: The age-old question. It definitely comes with some difficulties, but I really just try to do my best at all the races, represent my sponsors in the best way, and have fun.
AW: Do you think you get treated any differently?
LW: Sometimes, yes. But I’d prefer that I just get treated like another racer. I’m there for the same reasons everyone else is – to take part in something I’m very passionate about.
AW: After such a long stint with XRAY, what prompted the decision to switch to Capricorn?
LW: There were a lot of factors that contributed to my chassis switch this year. In the end, it was the right time for a change and after some talks with Capricorn, it was decided that it would be a great fit for me and the family.
AW: How do you anticipate your RC career changing over the next year? Five years? Ten years?
LW: In the next year and in five years, I hope to learn more about all of the mechanical details and inner workings of the cars and engines. I can see our family getting more involved in the RC industry as a whole – not just the racing side. I’m not sure what the next ten years will hold, but I know I will still be in RC somehow. I feel like there’s so much opportunity in the RC world and being involved is so important to me. Even when I have a family of my own, you can bet that I’ll be gently pushing an interest in RC.
AW: Why do you find off-road jumps so difficult?
LW: The simple answer is: off-road jumps hate me. I hope someday there can be harmony. ☺
AW: What’s the best piece of advice you could give an aspiring racer?
LW: Start realistic and have fun! Making the A mains and throwing down fast laps is hard, especially at the beginning of an RC career. It takes time and experience. So keep going to those big races, keep going to different tracks, ask questions, be a good sport, and laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. You’ll learn SO much and before you know it, you’ll be achieving your RC goals.
Thanks LiveRC! You guys rock!