By Mike Garrison
Over the past decades of rising stars and racing phenomenonís, one man stands above all with the most US National championships to his name than anyone in US r/c racing history. Known as the "Magic Man" for his domination in the onroad scene throughout the 90ís, World Championship wins in offroad and onroad, and after taking years away from racing was able to pick up a car and radio to win the ROAR Nationals.
The spotlight is on AKAís Joel "Magic" Johnson as he makes his return to the onroad scene for this weekendís ROAR Nationals. Equipped with Associated vehicles for the race, Johnson is making a surprise return for this weekendís Nationals. To find out more, we got a chance to take some time out with Joel on his way to the race.
LiveRC: Thanks so much Joel for taking time with us on your way to ROAR Nationals! Letís start at the beginning, when did you start racing?
Joel: I started in 1975 with gas powered 1/12 scale car. Basically the only car available outside of 1/8 cars.
LiveRC: How many national and world championships do you have to your name?
Joel: National titles I have 33, and world championships 2. 2wd offroad world championship, and 1/10 onroad world championship.
LiveRC: What is your most memorable championship win?
Joel: 1987 2wd IFMAR Offroad World championship event. Not expecting to do well, and everything fell into place and made for a magical race weekend.
LiveRC: After college you left racing. What made you decide to quit?
Joel: A couple factors. Number 1 was being burnt out. I had been on the road since I was 13 racing, and combined with the fact I had just gotten married and finished college. The money was to be made in offroad, and I was more in the onroad scene. I decided to take my new degree and enter the world of technology.
LiveRC: You havenít raced in quite some time as you have been busy working hard at AKA, what made you decide to come back to the track for this weekendís race?
Joel: A phone call from a friend invited me out to race, the cars are running rubber tires, and I thought it might be fun to take a weekend and get back at it. I knew it was a great facility, great track, and I decided to take some time away for a little fun back at the track.
LiveRC: Have you been preparing and practicing for the race?
Joel: Somewhat for this event. Not as much as I would like to, but I spent several days at West Coast RC trying to get used to all the new brushless, LiPo's, and new technology. When I quit there was no such thing as brushless, LiPo's, and electric "warm-up". We were forced to just turn the car on and go to save the batteries!
LiveRC: Is this weekendís appearance a sign that we will see more of you once again on the racetrack?
Joel: My goal is to start running locally more, and spend more time at the track. AKA is growing company, and I am wanting to spend more time with the racers and at the tracks in the near future helping racers, gathering feedback, and try taking some time to race as well!
LiveRC: What all will you be racing this weekend, and with what equipment?
Joel: 1/10 Mod Sedan running the new TC6 courtesy of Associated, and 1/12 scale with the new Calandra Racing car. A big thanks to those guys for making it possible this weekend.
LiveRC: AE cars, does this mean you are a team driver?
Joel: Brent was nice enough to help me out on a car and parts, but I think it will take a few more races to make it as a team driver. :)
LiveRC: You have both, offroad and onroad, World Championship wins, but would you say that you are more of an onroad racer?
Joel: 100% onroad racer, I have actually only ran a few offroad nationals and world championships. Onroad all the way for sure!
LiveRC: Are there any surprise returns to the offroad scene in the future for you?
Joel: Probably not, besides running locally with electric offroad, onroad is my main focus. It takes more than enough to get back up to speed in onroad, so I don't plan on any serious offroad racing.
LiveRC: AKA has become a dominant force in the offroad market, is there future plans for AKA in the onroad market?
Joel: I'd love to see it, but I don't know that it will be anytime soon. The onroad market is suffering, however, that is part of the reason I am at the race this weekend is to study it. I would love to be able to "revive" it, as it is my passion, but in the meantime we will just have to wait and see what the market does.
LiveRC: The competition is tough, but another surprise "Magic Man" victory isnít out of the question. Do you have anything you would like to add about your return this weekend?
Joel: A special thanks to all of the guys who have made it possible for me to get here! I am really enjoying getting back racing, and hopefully I can get back up to speed with the guys!
LiveRC: Thank you so much for taking some time Joel, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend!
Be sure to tune in here on LiveRC.com for the ROAR Electric On-road Nationals hosted by Jackson R/C Racing Association in Jackson, NJ. Will Joel "Magic Man" Johnson make another victorious return? Stay tuned to find out!