By Mike Garrison
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!
For this week's Talk It Up Tuesday we sit down with rising star CJ Jelin to discuss his surprise split from XRAY / RC America, his career, plans for the future, and goals moving forward.
LiveRC: Welcome CJ to this week’s edition of Talk It Up Tuesday! You are one of the youngest rising stars in the sport and have made quite a name for yourself in a very short amount of time. When, where, and how did you get started in R/C racing in the first place?
CJ: Hi Mike. First of all, thank you for having me on this Talk It Up Tuesday. I started R/C racing at the end of November back in 2013 at Amain in Chico, California. My stepdad used to work for a motorcycle shop. At one time Traxxas had a special edition Kawasaki Slash 2wd. I started from there and now I’m traveling the world racing R/C cars!
LiveRC: When did you realize that you had the talent to be a professional?
CJ: I realized that I had the talent to be a professional after the 2017 DNC.
LiveRC: Is your goal to make a career out of racing R/C cars?
CJ: Yes. I was amazed when I was little that this is what some people do for a living. Since then I’ve wanted to be one of those people.
LiveRC: You did very well at this year’s ROAR 1/8 Nationals, and backed it up with an A-Main finish at the IFMAR World Championship! Did you expect to do so well at either of these events?
CJ: Thank you. I expected to make the mains at the ROAR 1/8 Nationals after finishing in the top 5 in each class at the Manufacturers Cup. For the worlds, I didn't expect myself to do that well. I was looking for a top 30 but I surprised myself and everyone else by making the main and not finishing last after an hour.
LiveRC: In a shocking announcement last week XRAY/RC America announced that you were parting ways. Obviously, results are not an issue, so what is the reason behind the shocking separation?
CJ: The reason was that there was a toxic environment off the track. My stepdad (Kevin) and I couldn't keep going to races with this happening. Leaving XRAY / RC America was the best choice.
LiveRC: Did the split come as a shock to you, or was your contract up at this point with XRAY / RC America?
CJ: The split had come as a shock at first but I realized that it was for the good.
LiveRC: There are a lot of rumored changes for the “Silly Season”. Do you have a game plan as to where you are headed for a new team in 2019?
CJ: As of right now, I don’t know what team I’m going to. My game plan right now is to find a team that can help build my career and that I will stay with for a long time.
LiveRC: Do you plan to focus more on 1/10-scale for 2019 since it is a Worlds year?
CJ: Yes, I do plan on focusing more, but I don’t know if that will actually happen.
LiveRC: You have been successful in both, but which do you enjoy the most – 1/10 or 1/8 racing? Why?
CJ: I enjoy both for sure, but 1/8 is my favorite type of R/C racing. I enjoy the long races, all the strategy that goes into it, and hard work involved.
LiveRC: What event do you look forward to the most each year, and why?
CJ: The event I look forward to the most each year would have to be the Reedy Race. Some people will think I’m crazy, but it’s the race that starts off the year for everyone. You see everyone with their new equipment. For me, I get to see some of my friends that I only see twice a year because they only race 1/10.
LiveRC: What are your major goals for 2019?
CJ: My major goals for 2019 is to have some better results at some races and represent my new sponsor best that I can.
LiveRC: Thank you for joining us today CJ, we wish you the very best of luck moving forward, and are anxious to see where you land for 2019! Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
CJ: I would like to thank you for having me on this weeks edition of the Talk it up Tuesday and I can’t wait for the 2019 racing season!!