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MIC CHECK: ATSUSHI HARA
Atsushi Hara is, without a doubt, one of the most accomplished racers in history and
continues to be a threat in just about every class imaginable including nitro, electric, and
on- and off-road, and he has world championships to back it up. We got a chance to interview
this iconic racer, who is originally from Japan but now resides in Bangkok, Thailand.
You grew up in the Far East. What are the biggest differences between there and the United States?
I think Asian culture is more about on-road, while the U.S. is more about off-road. This is the biggest difference, and the off-road
guys—especially the American off-road guys—are super fast, with a lot of talent. And since I really like off-road cars, I like to see what
they are doing, and I like to compare myself to them and learn a lot from them. But I think the biggest difference is that American
drivers know how to enjoy the hobby. It looks like everyone is having more fun than Asian people. Asian people like RC cars, but they
are so quiet and reserved. I only get a chance to come to America about once a year or once every t wo years, but I always meet ne w
people. It’s easy to make friends. Making friends makes things fun. This is one of my favorite things about visiting the U.S.
You’ve raced just about
every class. What is
1/8-scale nitro buggy. I like
the long races, especially
the finals, and the bump-up
system. The longer races are
more exciting and have more
drama. Electric cars only
have five-minute races, but
if you have a bad qualifier
and still make the A-main,
you’ll still have a hard chance
at winning—it’s almost
impossible. Sometimes you
can win if you have a lot of
luck, but the qualifiers often
decide the final results; I’d
say more than 90 percent.
After the first lap, you can
already see who’s won and
who’s lost. That’s why I like
THEN & NO W
How do the cars of today compare with
what you raced at the beginning of
Now the cars are so good and so fast, but
it’s really hard to connect with the driving
skill and the car. A long time ago, the
cars were really bad, the tires were really
bad, and we had no power. But the lap
times were long, so you had to take care
and manage your products and run time.
Now you don’t have to manage anything
because you have tons of grip, run time,
and power, so this is the biggest thing
from a long time ago. I think a long time
ago, it was fun to drive because the cars
were really bad. [laughs] You had to figure
it out yourself, and that is part of the fun.
What races are you going to focus on in the next couple of years?
I haven’t finalized things yet, so I’m taking things a step at a time.
I’m not sure if I’ll just focus on racing or also combine it with some
business or maybe start a new brand. But whatever the plan is, I want
to stay within this industry. I’d like to do something ne w—always new
things—maybe something no one has done before. Saying that is easy,
but it is hard to do.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
You’ve been racing for a long time, what
have been the biggest changes from when
you started until now?
Everything is too complicated now. More
complicated means less fun, especially for
beginners. People that are starting now,
compared to 25 years ago, their experience
is completely different, but now you can get
everything you want from a hobby shop. If you
want power, you can buy power, so in that way
it is easier now to buy the good products. But
that doesn’t mean it’s more fun. I think this is
one of the main reasons why we don’t see a
lot of new faces at races.