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TALKING TO THE 2022 VRC WORLD CHAMPIONS: DANA BALES (USA)

10.02.2023   Category: Site news

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A series of interviews with the best ‘virtual’ r/c racers in the world…

Hi Dana,
Congratulations with your 2022 VRC Worlds title 1:12 sportscars, I lost count how many you've won already but surely you're them man to beat in 12th. It again and again amazes me when I watch the replays and the video’s how fast and consistent you are able to race in VRC.

VRC: When and how did you get started in r/c and what class did you race in the beginning? And what was your very first r/c racing car?
Dana: I started racing around 1987 right around the time the Losi JRX-T came out which was my first racing car. I raced it off-road, dirt oval, carpet oval and even paved oval.

VRC: Did you start racing all by yourself or was it a typical ‘father and son’ effort? And if so, was your dad involved in r/c racing before as a racer or mechanic for someone else?
Dana: I started racing by myself. I worked for my Dad but I still “borrowed” some money now and then for some new killer packs. My dad comes to more of my races now, he has even driven my equipment to Florida for Snowbirds a couple times.

VRC: How long did it take you to become an accomplished r/c racer? What classes do you race now, and what is your favorite class now?
Dana: I won my first ROAR regional race on paved oval in 1991. This is when I met my current battery sponsor Tony Carrubba of Power Push batteries. I currently run GT12, 13.5 1/12, and my favorite 17.5 1/12.

VRC: You race on club, national or international level? How many races a year on average?
Dana: I like to club race every week still so I probably race 40-50 times a year. I run the US Indoor Champs in Cleveland every year as it is close to me and is the most storied and competitive race in North America. Been to Snowbirds 3 times since 2017. ROAR Nationals several time over the years. Planning on going to the 1/12 Worlds in Florida this year.

VRC: What is your home track or club now?
Dana: Austintown Hobby and Raceway in Ohio, USA.

VRC: Usually, the very best VRC racers are also very good racers in real life. Have you won any important championships, when, where and what classes?
Dana: I won the US Indoor Champs in 2002 in Stock 1/12, 2019 NYGP in 17.5 1/12, 2019 NORCAR Halloween Classic in 17.5 1/12. 2021-2022 season I won NORCAR HC, US Indoor Champs, Snowbirds and HC again in GT12.

VRC: Top racers often receive sponsorships from the main chassis manufacturers. Are you a sponsored racer? In which class and for what equipment? Always interesting to know…
You: I am sponsored by Destiny for all my 1/12 cars. I am currently running the new Destiny DTY-12 which been very easy to get up to speed.

VRC: How often do you race nowadays? And how much time do you spend on the track testing and practicing? Or is it very much combined with the races you go to?
Dana: I still like to club race all the time. These days it seems like I race more GT12 than 13.5 though. I try to keep testing separate from race days. On club race days you need to help others as much as possible before you crush them.

VRC: Now turning to your ‘virtual’ r/c racing accomplishments, you are a multiple VRC World Champion after all and that doesn’t come easy. What made you decide to start using VRC Pro? And since when?
Dana: I started using VRC I believe in 2012. I was planning on getting back into racing and wanted to see if it would help get me get back up to speed. It has done that and allowed me to go to another level. At 50+ years old you need to put in more reps to stay sharp.

VRC: Can you give us an idea of your ‘virtual r/c racing’ equipment? Computer, graphics card, monitor size, USB adapter, and your radio equipment?
Dana: I currently run a AMD 5600X CPU, Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, 27” 240hz Acer Predator monitor, 9Turbo adapter and Sanwa M12 radio. Most of this is overkill as I get over 1400fps. This system was built for iRacing though which I haven’t played for over a year. Keep coming back to VRC.

VRC: Did you upgrade your equipment to achieve better results in VRC, like faster PC or graphics card and monitor size?
Dana: I have in the past but I have been building gaming PCs for many years. Once I got above 500fps I didn’t notice any improvement in performance. The faster monitor is very important. I say the faster the better. Soon there will be 480hz monitors available. This reduces overall system latency which makes the cars feel more responsive and realistic. If VRC feels like you have a $15 servo in your car then your overall system latency is too high.

VRC: how much time do you spend on VRC? And how is this divided between practicing and participating in races?
Dana: Lately I spend very little time on VRC. When I started though I would play 1-2 hours a night when my wife would go to work on night shift. I came up with some pretty good setups that still seem to work well. Good enough to win another Worlds. Not much practice time these days, just a 10-20 minute warmup and race.

VRC: do you often challenge yourself by racing against opponents by using the Replay options? Or do you use the Event Replay option to study your own and other’s racing performance?
Dana: I don’t race against other drivers’ ghosts. I will watch the replays if somebody is beating me badly to see their lines.

VRC: VRC competitions are ‘solo’ races so to say, you are alone on the track and then race against the clock to post a result. Do you use the option to race against other racers who are in the same semi or final, to challenge yourself even more, and to test your racing skills and nerves?
Dana: I do not. I don’t feel it is the same if I can’t affect the other cars. I like to race very close and apply pressure. The other cars can’t respond when they are not live.

VRC: Have you ever used the ‘target’ option in racing mode? (You can select a score from another racer in your heat or final and the ‘target’ shows if you are ahead (green) or behind (red) the target?
Dana: I have used this in the past but not lately.

VRC: Do you use multiplayer to race against other racers real time? Have you ever raced multiplayer in ‘collision on’ mode? If so, does that present a new level of pressure?
Dana: I did this some during the Covid lockdown. It was fun for a bit but not as fun as getting back to the track.

VRC: I assume you use VRC Pro alongside your real r/c racing. What has VRC brought you for your real r/c racing in terms of setup knowledge, racing performance and handling racing pressure? In other
Dana: The biggest gains to me are lap after lap spot on consistency and dealing with pressure. If you are running races online, it is a very similar kind of pressure. It never ceases to amaze me how VRC users don’t participate in the scheduled VRC events. If you aren’t competing there is no pressure of losing. You are missing out.

VRC: Thanks for the interview, very interesting! I see you guys race all the time and achieve amazing levels of r/c racing as I said in the beginning, especially in 1:12 carpet, so blistering fast, never thought this was possible in an r/c racing sim but you proved me wrong! Is there anything else you want to get to say? You have the last word…
Dana: I have helped many people get up and running with VRC with the right equipment and every single one of the them that put in the time has gotten tremendous results. It has been an invaluable tool for me to get to the next level. If you want to get the most out of it you should get online and compete against the world. VRC lets you do it!

Comments

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(Total posts: 1)
16.02.2023 [01:26]
nice interview

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