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By Tyler Hooks
Future Stars of RC is a regular column on LiveRC where aspiring RC journalist Tyler Hooks has a conversation with fellow up-and-coming racers across the country, covering youth-friendly topics such as school subjects, watching TV, throwing huge whips and, of course, girls.
Finland might not be the first country that comes to mind when talking about champion RC racers, but that isn't stopping young wheelman Joona Haatanen from making a name for himself on the international stage. With an EOS TQ, EOS podiums, EUROS finals, and a Reedy Race Open class win under his belt, Joona is well on his way to an established RC career at a very young age.
Name: Joona Haatanen
Age: 14 Years Old
Sponsors: Team Associated, JConcepts, Reedy, Stickit1
TH: When did you first begin racing?
JH: I first started to drive when my dad bought me an old Team Associated car. For a couple of years I just learned to drive and then started racing. I have been racing now for six years.
TH: What is your biggest racing accomplishment?
JH: I think for now the biggest accomplishment is winning the Reedy Race Open Class, or in 2014 finishing 4th at the 4WD EUROS in Sweden.
TH: What is your worst racing failure?
JH: During the 2015 EUROS in England, I made the B main in 4wd and even worse in 2wd.
TH: Where do you attend school, and what is your goal for a future occupation?
JH: I attend Huhtasuo Comprehensive School right now. My dream would be to compete in RC as an occupation of course. I still have one year to think about what I'm going to do after normal school.
TH: What is your favorite class?
JH: I don't have any favorite class as far as school goes, but in racing 1/10 for sure is my favorite.
TH: Do you have a girlfriend?
JH: I don't have a girlfriend now. I think at my age it's not that big of a deal to have one. Hopefully when I get a bit older I can have a girlfriend!
TH: What do you think of the old saying “girls just get in the way of racing?”
JH: I think it depends on the girl. If she cares about you, it should not be a problem I guess!
TH: What is your real dream car?
JH: My dream car is a GTR
TH: Huge whips, driving absolutely flat out or more calculated driving, smoother on the throttle?
JH: HUGE whips but trying to be smooth on the throttle as well.
TH: Action sports or conventional sports, what do you follow in your free time?
JH: I like both, but I don't follow any consistently. If I do I follow a sport it's ice hockey.
TH: How do you feel racing in Europe compares to racing in the United States?
JH: I think in United States it is so much easier to practice and race with faster guys and it is easier to gain skill a lot quicker. I can't even practice for the EUROS if I don't attend the warm-up race. We don't have money to travel to different countries just for practice, and in Finland tracks aren't even close to EUROS quality.
TH: Who did you look up to when you were an even younger racer? Who has been the biggest help to you as a driver?
JH: I always look up to both the Ryans (Cavalieri and Maifield) at big races. My dad and all my Finnish RC friends have been a huge help for me. Without my dad I can't do well at any big races because he has always been my mechanic. He always knows what to do!
TH: What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to a new, up-and-coming racer?
JH: Be patient and never give up. There will always be a new race where you can shine!
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