In the R/C racing world, the spotlight always seems to follow the ‘star players’ of each race team…often leaving the man behind the team in the dark. We decided it was time to give one of those men the few minutes of fame they deserve! We’ve sat down with all around good guy and JQRacing International Team Manager, Ilias Arkoudaris, for a one-on-one chat about everything from burgers to buggys…and everything in between!
RCN: We have finally caught up with the one and only Ilias Arkoudaris. Ilias, for those living under a rock and don’t know you, who are you exactly?
Ilias: Hi, first of all thanks for this opportunity! I am the sales and team manager for JQRacing.
RCN: How did you get started with JQRacing in the first place?
Ilias: I first met JQ at a local race here in Greece back in 2007, we became friends shortly after that, hanging around together at races etc. The fact that he was so determined and had a clear vision made me want to help him as much as I could. Back then there was only some option parts for other cars and stickers, that’s all we had!
RCN: Aside from team manager, you are also a racer…as you displayed at the Euro B’s. Tell us a bit about the race.
Ilias: I think the Euro B’s is a great race as a whole. This is the second Euro B I’ve attended, and I must say that more people should try and do that. First of all the duration of the race is just right. A 3 day event is pretty much what is needed. One day of Practice, one day of qualifying, and then the Finals day. From a business point of view I wish more companies realized how important this race is for them and were there to support their customers, since the majority of the drivers are customers and not sponsored drivers. Regarding this particular race, the HNMC guys did an exceptional job in my opinion. Despite the bad weather conditions they managed to keep the track in a good condition and we had no problems whatsoever, so hats off to everyone!
RCN: THECar looked quite good this past weekend. It has definitely progressed over the years. What would you say is the biggest difference from THEFirst Car to THECar now?
Ilias: THEFirst Car was a great car for a certain group of drivers. It would suit the smooth kind of driver who is precise with the throttle and steering input. Unfortunately the vast majority of the drivers are not like that. Hobbyists and average racers tend to overdrive their cars, our latest platform, THECar White Edition makes it easier for everyone to do well on any level. So as a conclusion I would say that our current car focuses on a larger audience of drivers.
RCN: Tell us a bit about working for JQ (Joseph Quagraine). What are some highs and lows of having the colorful Mr. Quagraine as your boss?
Ilias: That’s a tricky one!! 😀 Working with Joseph can be very hard but also very rewarding. We have to keep in mind that this is not just another company but someone’s dream, so our 100% is required. I try to apply our motto “We do what we want so should you” at work but sometimes it is impossible! Being a Mediterranean (born and living in Athens, Greece) I am quite opposite compared to Joseph (he is a Scandinavian as you know), so this can complicate things, arguments and smack talk are very frequent but we love each other.
RCN: JQ has created a special day for haters, in which he calls #hatemonday. He shares some pretty hilarious hate mail from time to time. What piece of hate mail stands out most to you, and why?
Ilias: I think that the latest photo Joseph posted is one of the best ones! I remember the case, during a 2008 race in Greece Joseph had a hard time, he then pretended to be crying while someone was taking a photo of him and some people actually believed it! Back in the Starting grid forum there was quite some talking about this, it was fun! 😀
RCN: Along with hate mail, you guys also receive a lot of praise. As part of JQRacing, what has been the biggest compliment you and/or the company has received?
Ilias: I don’t really have any specific one. People seem to appreciate what we are doing since we have a different approach than all other companies. We are friends with a lot of our customers and team drivers, and we are always doing our best to keep everyone happy. I know that this isn’t always possible but most of the times we achieve that! I need to thank everyone for believing in us and what we do, without them nothing would be possible!
RCN: You recently spent some time in America, how did that go?
Ilias: That’s true. I spent two weeks in America, I visited New Orleans and Miami. I can say I really liked both places. Especially Miami was way different than any country in Europe, New Orleans was a bit closer to what we are used to here. I also met one of our team drivers while staying in New Orleans, that was really nice. I cant wait to go back there!
RCN: Favorite thing about America?
Ilias: Food! I really enjoy a good burger!
RCN: Worst thing about America?
Ilias: The fact that it isn’t close to Greece so it is tough to visit frequently!
RCN: Although JQRacing has little to do with 1/10 scale racing, what are your thoughts on the Astro turf 1/10 World Championships being held this year?
Ilias: I think that Astro/Carpet is just a different form of racing, like sugared tracks. During the years we have seen huge changes as far as tracks are concerned, from loamy and loose tracks back in the 90s to hard packed and high traction tracks of today. I think that racers are afraid of the changes the sport is going through and this is understandable, but evolution and improvement should also be on the list of the priorities, it remains to be seen if Astro is here to stay or not.
RCN: Speaking of World Championships, how is JQRacing preparing for the 2016 1/8 Worlds in Las Vegas?
Ilias: THECar is being improved constantly. R&D never stops so I am confident that we will be competitive as a team. Joseph has spent a long time the last couple of years in the US so he can come up with setups and ideas to get the most out of the car. Jeremy Kortz is also doing his best so we can have the best possible results.
RCN: Do you feel JQRacing has a shot a World Championship win? If so, in the hands of what driver?
Ilias: We already have a world champion on our team (Greg Degani) so since he has done it once I am pretty sure he can do it again! In all seriousness I think we have a good chance to have a car in the final, at an event like the worlds anything can happen, we have seen outsiders win and favorites that under-performed quite a few times the last few years.
RCN: What is the idea behind Alphaform/REDS/JQRacing team?
Ilias: Our goal is to have a team where all drivers are using the same equipment. This way it will not only be easier for our team drivers to provide feedback to us but also easier for them to compare setups, give tips to each other and get the most out of their equipment, also this way we can benefit our sponsors a lot more, as we promote their brands as a team. We are trying to create the biggest and best R/C Racing team out there. The truth is that there is huge room for improvement in today’s R/C scene, and we want to create a professional racing team. We can take as an example Motocross and Supercross, when going to those races, you can tell which teams are doing the winning, and which ones are still trying to figure things out, by only walking around the pits. The level of professionalism, and the cool factor are through the roof in the pro pits, that is what we are trying to bring into R/C. Our team sponsors are: Alphaform, REDS Racing, LRP, AKA, Savöx, MIP, Maugrafix and now Sidewinder, and they help to make this possible!
RCN: Well Ilias, we know you are still in recovery mode from a long weekend at the Euro B Championships, and we sincerely appreciate you taking some time with us today. Before we let you get back to your nap, is there anything you would like add?
Ilias: I just wanted to thank all our customers, distributors and team drivers for their support. What we are trying to do is not easy but we will definitely not give up until we get there!