After exclusively announcing Joseph’s venture with Himoto Racing, we bring you the interview that answers all your questions* (If you do have any more, ask him in his forum!)
Click ‘Read More’ to read the whole interview!Facts:
Name: Joseph Quagraine
Occupation: Student of Mechanical Engineering, JQ Products co-owner
Home: Helsinki, Finland
Years racing: 8
Hobbies: Motocross, even though I really suck
Favorite country: Italy
Favorite race: The Euros, the Worlds, and the Nitrocross in Phoenix.
First win: Nordic Championship 2002
Luckiest race: Nordics warm up I lost the lead to Robert Gustafsson right at the end, but he ran out of gas just before the line.
Worst mistake: Letting Josh Wheeler get the last bump up on the last lap because I thought he was lapping me, and taking out Yannick Aigoin in a euros warm up qualifier.
Who do you enjoy racing against the most: Davide Tortorici
Strength: Dedication, not giving up.
Weakness: Lack of natural ability and living in Finland, 6 month season if lucky!
What makes you happy: Motocross, music, traveling
What makes you angry: Injustice, ignorance, narrow-mindedness, dishonesty
Goal: To become World Champion and European Champion, and to make my hobby into my job.
Best RC car driver ever: Masami Hirosaka
Best at the moment: Tebo, Maifield and Cavalieri.
Please tell us more about JQ Products?
Well I realized, based on all my former summer jobs, that I wouldn’t survive a job that I don’t enjoy, so I thought I would do something about that. There are very few people that make a good living racing RC cars, and even less that make enough to put some money aside and invest for the future, so it has always been clear to me that I need a “real” job. I realized that I had a good shot at finding work in the RC industry, because there aren’t many people out there that are both world class drivers, and qualified engineers.
I have been working on my own 1:8 buggy design for nearly two years now, and at the time I started talking with Himoto, it was already done. When I finally showed them my prototype they were impressed, and basically things took off from there. The opportunity of being part of a new RC-car company was just too good to miss. It is a great challenge to pull this off, and establish a new top level racing brand, but its one I am looking forward too. We will start with a 1:8 buggy, and various nitro racing accessories, but the intention is to expand from there and produce other cars also, both gas and electric, on and offroad.
Why did you decide to design your own car?
Well I have always been interested in setting up the cars, and trying different things. Maybe partly, due to the fact that if my car isn’t right for me I don’t do very well. Some people can drive anything fast, but I can’t. I designed my first parts back in the Hyper 7 days. Some shock towers, just for fun. I did my first good parts early in 2006. I was trying different stuff for the worlds in Indonesia. It worked out really well. I ended up running a heavily modified car at the worlds and it was really good once the track got rough. Too bad my engine cut in the semi! That’s pretty much the car I have run ever since. I have tried a bunch of different things since then, but I haven’t really been able to run everything at races, because my car would not have resembled a HoBao anymore. I did make my own body shell too which I have run quite a lot. But the mold looked a lot better than the body!
As for my own car design, I started that about the same time as the other parts, early 2006. Then after I broke my arm in motocross shortly after the 2006 worlds, I worked a lot on it since I couldn’t do much else, and it was pretty much done then. The car I have now is the second version really.
Why did you leave HoBao? Why didn’t you work with them?
They were doing their own thing, and there was not much I could do really. So I just kept to myself after I realized that to be honest. I just made my own parts.
Why did you choose to work with Himoto? They are not into racing are they?
I was slightly skeptical at first, but the thing is Himoto do a lot of OEM for other companies, and as for their own products, they focus on both the hobby and toy end market. However, they have been working behind the scenes for a while now, acquiring the knowledge, contacts, and the people needed to develop and produce the best possible products in order to enter the racing market, and knowing this made my decision a lot easier. But one main point was definitely also that they were willing to start a completely new company for these higher level racing products. There are now a number of experienced engineers in Hong Kong that I will be working closely with on both current and future projects. I have no doubt that JQ Products will produce high quality and innovative RC racing cars and accessories in the future.
Tell us a bit more about Himoto?
Himoto Racing is specialized in designing and manufacturing diverse racing 4WD model cars in Hong Kong and China, since 2004. Himoto produce their own 1/8,1/10 & 1/16 scale nitro and electric powered touring cars as well as nitro powered buggies and monster trucks for RC fun. They also do a lot of OEM for a bunch of companies. Check out more at www.himotoracing.com.
Will JQ Products act as its own company, brand name and product? Considering Himoto produce for several other RC companies, isn’t it a conflict of interest going on?
Yes, JQ Products is a separate company, which will produce different products from Himoto. Different materials will be used in many cases, as well as different manufacturing facilities where needed. Himoto does not focus on the racing market at all, that is why some people think Himoto isn’t a good manufacturer, because they compare Himoto’s cars, to the pro cars of other manufacturers, when in fact they should be compared to similar RTR cars. On the other hand Himoto do actually produce parts for various racing cars, so they clearly do have the ability. And since Himoto owns part of JQ Products, it is of course in their best interest to make sure JQ Products is a success.
Will JQ Products only focus on racing cars?
In most of the cases we plan on releasing a “pro” version first, designed with racers in mind, followed by an RTR-version, just like most other manufacturers. We have some interesting ideas for cars that don’t exactly have a race class yet. But maybe in the future!
How is the future for JQ Products? Where do you see the company in 2 years, and 4 years time?
This early it is really hard to tell. But the goal is to release a number of different racing cars, gas and electric, on and offroad during the next few year. We hope to work with drivers that are experts in their respective racing classes so we can make the best possible cars for all classes we chose to enter. We strive to make innovative high quality products which perform well for drivers of all skill levels. But it is no secret that our main goal is to win championships and expand the company.
It is fair to say that the current climate in the 1:8 offroad market is booming, with around 30-35 different manufacturers cars to chose from. First off, what makes your product stand out from being just another “me too”?
I think there are too many companies releasing cars with nothing original about them, or on the other hand trying to be original in a wrong way. It’s better to be right than original I think. But on the other hand no point in doing something if it’s not better in some way than the other cars.
I believe JQ Products will succeed in becoming one of the big brands out there, due to the fact that the car will have a bunch of unique features, but ones that are practical, and designed with the racers in mind, in an effort to make the car either faster on the track, easier to work on or more reliable. Also, another point is that I am both the designer of the car, and a top lever racer myself, which is good, because it means the car will include features that other racers will surely appreciate. I will be at the races competing, just like before, so people will have a chance to ask for help, ask questions about the design, or give feedback right there at the track. It’s not very common for the designer of a car to be racing on the highest level also. Usually they used to race, and then switched their focus to designing, or they have never been at the top. In my case my best results as a racer are most likely still in the future!
Can this boom-period continue and be sustainable? Do you expect more manufacturers to enter, old ones fade away?
I think the boom will fade in the future and many of the smaller companies will be gone, or switched their focus to the next hot thing. Similar to what has happened in the touring car market. I don’t think any of the big names will have any problems. I don’t see 1:8 scale racing as a whole fading at all, I just think that the smaller manufacturers will realize they aren’t getting a big enough piece of the pie to make it worth continuing. We are not planning to be one of them.
Are there any plans for JQ products to produce engines or tyres? In the past 1-2 years there has been a trend with companies expanding from producing tyres, to engines, (GRP) Fuel companies producing cars, engines and tyres (O’Donnell) Other examples include Losi – tyres > Cars, SH Engines > Cars Do you believe more companies will follow this pattern?
We are not planning on making any JQ Products tyres or engines. Anything can happen, but right now it’s a definite no. Making tyres and engines is easy. But making the best tyres and engines takes a lot of special knowledge and skill, money, time and effort. I would rather invest in making the best possible cars, instead of trying to do everything, and possibly have all products suffer due to that. And I don’t want to put my name on someone else’s product, just for the sake of it either. At least not until ProLine or OS ask me…LOL. (Not going to happen!) As for other companies I really don’t know, but it seems to be quite popular at the moment.
At 24 you’re pretty young to be heading this type of project, not to mention building up a company reputation. How daunting a prospect is it you are facing?
Very! It was a very strange feeling at first. I really didn’t think I would be starting JQ Products, that just kind of happened. I saw there was a chance, and I went for it. I had thought everything through carefully, and when I met the guys from Himoto we just worked things out right then and there. It was quite impossible for me to get my head around everything at first because to be honest I didn’t expect things to work out like this at all.
With you living in Finland, Production in China, and engineers in Hong Kong, it’s a pretty global process of producing a car. Will testing be in Finland, flying parts and cars back and forth?
Even though it does seem quite difficult having the main offices in Hong Kong, and most of the production in China, it’s actually just a case of crossing the border. The facilities are only about 1 hour apart. Just on different sides of the border. As for Finland, I will be producing prototype parts in Finland also, because it makes testing much faster. If I need something made, it can easily be done here too. Most of the testing will be done in Finland, and at certain points in the development I have to spend some time in Hong Kong and China.
How soon do you think it will be before you get a gold card on an airline from the airmiles racked up?
I have one already! Those flights to Indonesia in 2006 weren’t all bad!
What car are you going to run now? I see you are entered for the neo08 race. Will you be running your prototype?
I wish I could, but it’s not ready for racing yet. I will attend some races during the beginning of the year, and will run whatever I want. I have, and still am testing all different cars to figure out what’s hot, and what’s not, on them. This way I can get a lot of good info for my own car. And I need to race so I don’t get rusty. I hope to have my own prototype to run at the races during the summer.
What about engines and tires? What are you going to run?
Well I now have what I believe to be the best engines, and the best tyres in the business with OS Engines, and ProLine tyres, so I hope I can keep running them forever!
So, all racing teams need great drivers, give us your ideal dream team of five 1/8 buggy drivers:
This is a really hard one, but here’s my pick:
Robert Battle, Ryan Maifield, Jared Tebo, Miguel Matias, Yannick Aigoin